AN AUSTRALIAN take on the ‘80s ABC classic ‘Magic Monkey’ sees the junior cast of Wonthaggi Theatrical Group travel from Robe to the Victorian Gold Fields with wisdom, tribulation and play.
Performed at the Shed Theatre at the State Coal Mine, the production shows a new level of professionality and leadership, with direction from cast member Will Thatcher and Sue Lindsay.
“Everyone has been given serious responsibility and we’ve come together well,” said Will.
Will, who plays the Jade Emperor amongst three other characters, is a shining example of WTG successive talent.
With large roles well spread amongst the cast members, most who have been performing for the past few years, Sue is impressed by the professional vision of the group.
“So many of this group have come so far since starting with us a couple of years ago, now they’re playing multiple characters really well,” Sue said.
“Returning back to rehearsals after the Christmas break, I was really impressed by the focus of the cast,” she said.
Sue says the challenges of the story progress well to developing a familiar narrative.
“The main character Monkey must go through 81 tribulations to find success, he made it through 80 but then had to complete one more,” Sue said.
“The importance of youth learning through theatre has been a rewarding process for everyone involved,” she said.
The show will play January 8, 9 and 10 this week, with performances at 11am and 2pm each day.
Tickets at the door and wtg.org.au. Prices are $20 individual, $15 student and family $50.
Mighty Magic Monkey
The following is a review by Jennifer Paragreen.
This story has parallels with the arduous journey of Chinese men compelled to walk from Robe in South Australia to the Ballarat and Bendigo goldfields in the 1850s.
These two strands are beautifully woven together by Jacqui Castillo, as the narrator who explains many of the Chinese aspects while Ron Cochrane, as an old Chinese man, converses with European settlers and their children describing the privations experienced by the Chinese miners and reading an extract from the Chinese legend.
Jake Dennerley displays energy and athleticism as the Magic Monkey travelling with the pilgrims, protecting the holy monk played with great dignity by Billy Soumilas. Stephanie Chetcuti has fun as the cursed Sandy Monk and Bronwyn Peters brings a delightful winning interpretation to her performance as Pigsy.
Playing multiple character roles with aplomb Will Thatcher impresses using variations in vocal intonation and timbre, accent, body posture and facial expressions to create distinct persons as the Jade Emperor, Dragon King, Bull Demon and Chen.
Katelyn Hollins provides confident portrayals as the Court Captain, a robber and Princess Iron Fan while Brooke Thatcher’s characters include Queen Mother, an Old Man and the Southern Hills Ruler.
The fabulous array of authentic costumes helps the actors to establish the different characters they play.
Show highlights include the martial arts aspects of the tiger fight, the flaming mountain scene and the circus skills on display at the festival.
The work of Sue Lindsay and Will Thatcher as directors of this project is to be highly commended along with Emily Carlson as choreographer and the stage manager responsible for getting all those actors in and out of costumes and back on stage again.