Disney renditions delight

Taieri Musical
Frozen Jr and The Lion King Jr

Coronation Hall Mosgiel
Thursday, September 28

Taieri Musical is currently staging a very popular season of two massive Disney hits, condensed to become The Lion King Jr and Frozen Jr.

Ruben, 8, and I attended the sell-out opening night in Mosgiel’s Coronation Hall, when loud spontaneous cheering and applause continuously marked audience approval.

It was an excellent performance, as the storylines unfolded in front of an enormous LED screen, and a cast of 30 talented young people sang and danced with confidence and professionalism thanks to direction by Denise Henderson, Emma Donaldson, Ben Johnson, Irene Mosley and backed by incredible work from the design team, headed by Ben Thomas.

Both shows were about an hour. Frozen Jr outlined the tale of love and acceptance between sister princesses Anna (Immy Morey) and Elsa (Isla Kamo) in the magical land of Arendelle. Prince Hans was played by Joseph Kelly and Kristoff by Sam Kelly. Sophie Butson’s performance as Olaf was delightful, as were the two younger cast princesses in the opening scenes. Fast-forwarding storylines used dance and memorable songs to highlight magic and adventure. Lighting was warm and colourful as in the picturesque opening village scene, but cold with storms of falling snow in Let it Go. Modern technical equipment projects amazing detail with instant changes, like turning the page in a giant live picture book.

A warmer palate, contrasting choreography and a dazzling display of costumes and animal masks paid homage to the African roots of The Lion King Jr. There were waterfalls and tropical scenes too. A highlight was the spectacular stampede scene. There were more vocal solos — Circle of Life, Can You Feel the Love Tonight and Hakuna Matata, with strong singing from Simba (Joseph Kelly), Nala (Molly Wilson-Gallagher), Mufasa (Sam Kelly) and Rafiki (Jayla Paulo).

Phenomenal costumes (Christine Wedlake), clear diction with appropriate accents and well-managed microphones were maintained throughout, and I heard only high praise as the audience left the hall.

The season continues until October 7.

Review by Elizabeth Bouman