stella & sam
Even before the World Premiere of Mermaid Theatre’s newest work Stella, Queen of the Snow began this afternoon at the Alderney Landing Theatre as part of the Magnetic North/ Stages Theatre Festivals I was reminded that theatre for young people, especially the very young people, makes me emotional. There is something so special and poignant to me about seeing a theatre filled with enraptured, delighted children. Mermaid Theatre, who have been creating touring puppet shows in Windsor, Nova Scotia since 1972, are the very masters of magical theatre for children.
Adapted from a children’s book of the same name by Marie-Louise Gay Stella, Queen of the Snow tells a simple story of two children enjoying a myriad of winter activities. Stella is joyful, confident and exuberant while her friend Sam is curious, uncertain, contemplative and cautious. There is also a dog with a waggly tail.
The story moves slowly, as do the set pieces, which come alive in the same ways as the puppets, but the children remain captivated because each piece is so beautifully and intricately designed and its movement entices them in itself. Puppeteers John Allen MacLean and Sarah Jean Begin are experts in animating these characters with so much charm, allure and stage presence with very little dialogue to help them. Marie Louise Gay narrates her story, which gives the audience an even clearer feel for how she imagined it being told while she was writing it.
Jim Morrow’s direction serves the puppets and the story and his young audience members beautifully.
Mermaid Theatre’s ideal demographic seems to be children between the ages of three and six, and their shows always make me wish I could scoop up every child I know between those ages and bring them to the theatre with me, but there is something really wonder-full and magical in these plays for people of all ages to enjoy.
Stella, Queen of the Snow plays at the Alderney Landing Theatre (2 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth) as part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival and Eastern Front Theatre’s Stages Festival at the following times:
Sunday June 22, 12pm