Pirates Past Noon Passes Muster

Monday, March 19, 2018

Talented fourth graders all came to impress at the stage of the Bosch Centre for Performing Arts for their two performances of Pirates Past Noon KIDS produced by Magic Tree House. With great sound quality, set design and musicality, it was a 45-minute performance that’s just of perfect length for any audience’ attention span, adult or child.

They’ve done it again! The American International School Muscat Elementary School Musical has surpassed itself for sound quality, set design and musicality! Under the ever growing skills of Elementary School Music Teacher and Director, Rachel Elbin, the stage at the Bosch Centre for Performing Arts came alive last weekend for 2 performances of Pirates Past Noon KIDS by Magic Tree House productions. The whole show was accompanied live by the excellent piano skills of Renata Gniatkowska without a blink. Even the announcer (Jeff Lovett, Light and Sound) slipped into Caribbean brogue to suggest mobile phones should be turned off or else — walk the plank.

The show opened with First Mate pirate, played and sung superbly from the Crow’s Nest by Dhriti Ananth, telling the audience they were Pirates Putting on a Play – and they should pay careful attention. Immediately, two real children appeared as chief protagonists, Mikayla Mann as the confident, cute Annie, and Mark Asfour as her rucksack-carrying brother, Jack. The mics worked, the voices were clear and the ensemble singing beautifully in tune — and in harmony. Well done, Company in Spinning to an Island, and good job set-design and construction team, Andrew Elbin, Anne Stevens and Kris Hovland. Even the sea waves were well animated!

The eagerly anticipated Tropical Island Song was sung confidently by a very talented 4th grader, albeit masquerading as Teeki, the Yellow Seagull, Ms Sahra Orr. She was supported by Pedro the Pelican, cheekily played by Antonio Soto, Corey the Crab by Lisa Van der Werff and Stella the Starfish by delectable Sana Mehra.

On from the back of the auditorium rowed the awaited Pirate mates, headed by Rhys Leibel as a brilliantly articulate Captain Bones, singing, Row Dogs Row. Ah, me Hearties, Sea Dogs they were. They had their own Ensemble number with 4 hilariously named and stripey-dressed pirate mates, Stinky, Pinky, Blinky and Slinky, sung and acted respectively by Mia Cabaluna, Mauri Krupka, Laith Khimji and Azlan al Said in perfect harmony with a lot of humour. Costumes were creatively designed by Hannah Aarvold & Stacia Griffin. They animated their 3 simple cut-out rowing boats in that age-old trick of walking while holding them side-on, to great effect. No, they ran, danced and skipped through the waves. Choreography was synchronised with nimble invention by Carissa Becker and Lorelai Wood. They met up with Annie and Jack in their tree house (which was actually a library, and here was the covert message): we don’t have treasure, nor gold, but we DO have a wealth of books.

The reason why Captain Bones has such attitude was introduced in a slapstick spoof, Every Pirate Needs a Parrot, with each pirate sporting a giant bird as a kind of substitute Teddy. Polly, a full sized parrot, was played and danced splendidly by Marin Rauk. No wonder Captain Bones was so cranky. A predictable treasure hunt plot ensues, with Jack and Annie not so stupid as to give the answer to the riddle away without a back hand for themselves. They showed their true colours by teaching Jonah, a sort of pirate-orphan played touchingly by Asher Callaway, how to read — education being the route out of piracy and the criminal world.

A cryptic clue, cleverly solved from a dungeon prison, led to some digging for treasure under the island rock. A quick subterfuge and an escape to the spinning tree house in Spinning Home, sung by the strong presence of Dhriti Ananth as First Mate, enabled the intrepid adventurers, Annie and Jack, to finally get home (over-tones of Wizard of Oz here). Marin Rauk as Morgan le Fey sang a moving ballad, Treasure, and the Finale ensemble drew the whole plot to a convincing conclusion in just 45 minutes — the perfect length for any audience’ attention span, adult or child.

Byline: Georgina Benison, Oman Observer, March 19, 2018