As I write this, Hush – the new Teatru Manoel Youth Theatre musical – today (Tuesday) finishes its run to packed audiences.

Part of the Toi Toi children’s programme, the original musical was written and directed by Denise Mulholland, with music and lyrics by Luke Saydon, and featured students of the youth theatre programme and established names.

My blogposts are rarely full of sunshine and praise, so I’m super happy to make an exception today. Because Hush certainly deserves praise on a number of levels. I write this not as a technical review; our reviewer will be having his say on the printed edition of the newspaper.

I write this merely in appreciation of a completely homegrown production that captured the imagination of children, parents and of adults with no children in tow. The musical impressed me on a number of levels. For starters, for the way it offered young students a professional platform to showcase their talent.

There was nothing ‘studenty’ about the production. Props, backstage, lights, music, script, costumes, make-up ... everything was on point. The importance of students participating in productions that maintain a professional standard all round is not to be discounted.

If we ever needed any proof that the performing arts can be both entertaining and enriching, this was it.

It impressed me for the way it exposed young theatre-goers to a multitude of artistic genres that ran the gamut from the obvious singing and acting to mime, dance and visual arts.

Not to mention the way it casually referenced classics like Saint-Saens’s Carnival of Animals (that tiger was priceless) and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in such an effortless and engaging manner.

It also impressed me for having the most well-behaved audience I have seen in ages. A couple of days earlier, at a different theatre production, the couple behind me just wouldn’t shut up.

No matter the amount of dirty looks I threw at them – and believe me when I say that I do an unparalleled line in dirty looks – the nattering continued throughout the entire play. Here, with a full house made up mostly of children, there was nary an inappropriate sound to be heard. No mobile phones went off.

High five to all those present, who were enjoying their suspension of disbelief so much that they forgot all about everything else. And an even bigger (higher?) five to those who made this happen.

Because of course, all the above would be useless without the sheer entertainment factor. If we ever needed any proof that the performing arts can be both entertaining and enriching, this was it.

From beginning to end, Hush was a rollercoaster of fun. Whether we were tapping our feet to the gorgeous music; getting pretend-scared by the Evil Maestro; giggling at Clementine’s quirks; or oohing and aahing at Gus’s singing... the common denominator was fun.

ToiToi may have been conceived as an educational programme, but there was nothing too blatantly ‘educational’ about the experience. And thank the heavens for that.

More, please!


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