Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Theater review: Children’s musical Mirandy and Brother Wind teaches respect and loyalty
Perhaps you and your child will take something away from the performance.
FORT WORTH Mirandy and Brother Wind is a musical based on the children’s book by Patricia C. McKissack. The musical follows the story of Mirandy and her desire to win the dance competition at the Ridgeton, South Carolina Annual Cakewalk. In the story there is a legend that whoever catches the wind will be able to command it to do their bidding. This musical teaches about respect, loyalty, making choices, and how the right ones can bring happiness.
The choreography designed by JuNene K. was very fun to see. I saw a lot of elements of early swing dancing which I definitely appreciated. Every cast member participated in different dances and every cast member impressed me with their skills. The choreography showed off the lead characters’ skills with different rhythms and impressive footwork. I was also impressed to see the younger performers dancing the same steps as the rest of the cast. Though the choreography was very simple, it was effective and it helped to tell the story as a whole, making it believable and realistic, within the context of the musical.
Michael Pettigrew designed the set which was very colorful, helping to make the show a lovely children’s theater piece. I marveled at the details of the set, the rows of different crops and watching the sun change to the moon. The details and bright colors of the set helped to bring me into the world of Mirandy.
Costume design by Barbara O’Donoghue was efficient and fitting to the ages of the characters and their personalities. Since there were adults playing the parts of young children, the costumes really helped clarify their roles. Some actors filled multiple roles and the costuming helped to distinguish their different characters.
Nikki Deshae Smith’s lighting created a whole ambiance which fit perfectly within the context of the show. This was especially visible in the progression of time by the transition between day and night, the sun and moon apparent within the set. The lighting was surprisingly used to show wind blowing across the stage which was effective and enjoyable to see.
The sound design by Jeff Miezner was well done, creating a believable farm atmosphere, complete with chickens, wind blowing and other sounds associated with farm life. Miezner also did well with the music. It was easy to hear, but never so loud that it overpowered the cast.
Kyra McNeil portrayed the part of Mirandy and was a delight to see. McNeil danced very well and exuded youthful energy and enthusiasm in her quest to win the cakewalk. Her choices were strong and fitting to the character she created. McNeil was engaging and enjoyable to watch as she sang and danced throughout the show. Her transition from the girl that only wants what she wants, to the girl that is willing to give that up to help a friend was very thought provoking.
Perri’ Camper portrayed the part of Orlinda, Mirandy’s competition at the Ridgeton, South Carolina Annual Cakewalk. She has a strong stage presence and voice with good dancing skills. Her desire to win at the competition was very realistic, as was her lack of patience with anyone who she didn’t consider to be her equals in dance. Her portrayal was wonderfully well done, and added a great contrast within the musical.
JuNene K. portrayed the parts of Ma Dear and Miss Poinsettia. In both portrayals she had a strong presence and voice. She created clear distinctions between her two characters so there was never any confusion as to who was who. Her interactions with the other characters were believable and showed a strong acting ability.
Edward Beal was outstanding in his portrayals of both Brother Wind and Mr. Jessup. His dancing was comical at times while other times he showed skill as a dancer. His portrayal of Brother Wind was fun to see, representing what a child would perceive wind to be like.
Bryan Banks portrayed the part of Ezel, the boy with two left feet that no one wanted to dance with at the competition. He was physically agile, slipping and falling regularly at the beginning of the show, then shone as a dancer during the final dance competition. The youthful hope and innocence that Banks showed through his character really helped to further the story about Mirandy.
Darren McElroy was outstanding in his portrayal of Monroe, especially when he began to dance, his ease with the dancing immediately apparent (those were impressive high kicks!) and fitting perfectly within the context of the show. I really appreciated how McElroy was always in character.
Crystal Williams played Grandmama Beasley. Her voice was strong and fitting to her character as she advised her daughter on parenting and guided her wayward granddaughter to make the right choice. I enjoyed how she got up to show Mirandy the steps she used to do when she was many years younger. This added a lot to the show and the scene was fun to see.
Overall, Jubilee Theatre’s Mirandy and Brother Wind was an enjoyable children’s theater piece with a good message and some fun performances.
I was impressed with all the components of this show, from the set design to the music. Each cast member was present in their role, never losing character anytime onstage. All actors helped further the story and the message. This play will teach you valuable insights about life and loyalty, and how dancing helps make everything better.
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column