This is a return to the Belgrade for this magical musical play aimed at children aged 6 to 12 years. The inspiration comes from Mozart’s Magic Flute using music from the opera that has been adapted and reworked for this production. The music and singing bring another dimension to the theatre for children, introducing them to beautiful operatic tones.
After a dreamlike musical opening sequence in the forest we meet Pamina, played in a delightful childlike manner by Madeleine Leslay, in her room as she finishes a story about her love for the forest. Her work hassled father (Dan Willis) who is raising Pamina as a single parent comes to make sure her room is tidy. A father and daughter bonding moment follows, this however doesn’t stop Pamina from sneaking out to the forest with her new found friend, a playful bird Popinjay. In the forest she meets an owl, a dragon and the mystical and devious Night Queen (Jennifer Greenwood). After being rescued from the dragon by the Night Queen, Pamina is set a quest to obtain the powerful magic orb for her. As part of the quest she meets Zorastro, the guardian of the orb who sets Pamina challenges to test her character. The tale covers many aspects, friendship, responsibility, loyalty, judgement and rivalry but all in a way that children can understand and sympathise with.
With a simple stylised set that transforms before your eyes this play takes you on a journey into a colourful world. The puppets (Popinjay and the dragon) are controlled by Willis and Greenwood with such panache that you almost forget they are puppets. This is a wonderful production that had the children of all ages captivated all the way through.
The Night Queen plays at the Coventry Belgrade Theatre's B2 Stage until January 26.
- Annette Nuttall