Melbourne Recital Centre
By Wendy Samantha
April has been booming with fun for families these school holidays, and the Melbourne Recital Centre has been host to the Mini Music Lovers and Music Play series where people of all ages can enjoy discovering music together.
As soon as you enter the venue you’re hit with the cackling of a scarlet ‘Cruella’ type character singing with an assortment of fascinating voices that has the children all captivated. It is the talented Madame Lark and Bevil Long who are interpreting black painted canvas patterns – turning images into sounds in a wonderfully mesmerizing experience. All children and parents are highly engaged, seated on colourful cushions and an assortment of tables and chairs.
Alongside this, the line for the popular face painting is always a wait but as you are being entertained there is no burden here. There is also a photobooth with glitter and sparkles across the passage and a silent disco hopping across the foyer. Bubbles are floating around and there’s smiles all around. The orchestra soon takes to the platform as children take turns excitedly to conduct their own little versions of popular pieces. What an exciting buzz!
We enter the Primrose Potter Salon greeted by a lovely usher with an equally funny hat, and this all adds to the children who are in high animation awaiting the Musical Sprouts. When the show begins, brightly coloured flour dressed ladies enter the stage with high energy and magnetic invitation. Immediately they engage the little audience ‘sprouts’ who are sitting up attentively with great expectation. We are welcomed to a special garden by the characters Yella (Bridget a’Beckett) and Reddy (Sharni Page), introduced to the feeling flower and a magical story begins where emotions are explained at an age appropriate level with easy to understand references, actions, physical comedy and simple visual props like a giant pause button.
The use of sound and lighting is simple and effective in the space used and both performers’ voices are controlled throughout. Easy to follow, snappy rhythms are created and acapella songs are held well with harmonies and melody lines catchy. With easy movements you can dance along to, the choreography includes hand claps and hip shakes, getting the kiddos off their cushions and up for a bit of fun.
Pause, Notice and Name your feelings is the focus of the show. To identify how you feel and not always be on the move. This means that we can all know what is inside our bodies, not just that half a vegemite sandwich is sitting in our bellies!
The Musical Sprouts Press Pause production as designed is best suited for a school level of Foundation to Year 3, whereby the 6 to 8 ages were most engaged. The duo explored emotions that included the prickly feeling of jealousy, sadness that liked to be hugged, doubt, kindness, hope, excitement, being calm and mushed bacon – oops, sorry, frustration. We learnt that even the yucky feelings are important because they teach us something useful, and as the emotions were acted out they were collected and thrown into a magic box where it was safe to then be created into a swirly picture pattern. Once these were all then placed on the feeling flower, it sung to say we’re all able to address our feelings and that it’s ok to ask for help to do so.
The whole show is wonderfully family focused and is a great doorway to allow children and parents to open up and discuss feelings, allowing all a chance to get them out of our bodies and minds and talk about them so they are no longer bottled up inside you.
If you know how you feel, it’s like a superpower!
A fabulous learning and teaching resource, the Musical Sprouts here have provided an educational tool that would be well worth a visit to kindergartens, pre-schools and primary schools. It was wonderful to see the happy smiles on the parents’ faces throughout the show, and that all the children were so delighted and engaged in a topic that can sometimes be a little difficult to find the right words to express. The dynamite duo in a’Beckett and Page hope to offer life changing skills through music and theatre and they most definitely did this at the performance.
About the Author
Wendy Samantha is a writer and director and runs her own performing arts school. She has worked on many shows and musicals and is head of primary music at a prestigious Melbourne private school.
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