Mice are engaging little creatures. At least, that’s the opinion of some of us. Take the stories of Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig about a mouse who years to be a dancer. Put them in animated form on children’s television. Or make them into a through-composed and danced musical – sorry, that should be mousical. Barry Bignold is the composer, Matthew Cole the choreographer and Miranda Larson the director .
Angelina Ballerina is well staged and performed with an appeal to little boys as well as girls – there were at least two small budding dancers demonstrating that they had taken in all their dance instructors’ tuition as they echoed the steps on-stage in the aisles at the performance which I saw. Isla Shaw’s costumes and settings are clever and use the dancers as stage-hands as the scene shifts through the Camembert Academy and then the Dancing With Mice studio.
Some subtle messages are conveyed in the course of the story unfolding. Angelina (Georgia Carling) has been elected dance captain for the forthcoming talent contest but she has to learn to delegate and to appreciate other people’s ideas, as well as recognise that teamwork and competition can step comfortably side by side. Carling makes an engaging heroine and dances well with neat pointe work and expressive arms.
Busiest of all is Hannah Louise-Wilson in three roles – Alice, who is Angelina’s slightly bossy deputy, head mistress Miss Mimi and the exotic television presenter, all swishing glitter with a matching bow on her tail. The boys – whose ideas about plots, design and steps are at odds with those of the girls – are Daniel Jacob as the hip-hop and rap loving AJ and Nicholas Pack as the quicksilver Marco. Katy Stredder is Gracie and Samantha Hull plays Viki.
The sound system needs a great deal more attention as far as balance and clarity is concerned. From what I could catch of them, some of the lyrics are quite witty, but too many words were lost, and that can be fatal for the attention-span of very young children. The score is pre-recorded and enjoyable in its own right. I particularly like the orchestra warming-up effect just before the prelude and the TV presenter’s first entrance. That's pure theatre magic; you don't get that on TV.