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Hants County kids get sneak peak at Mermaid Theatre play before world tour

Don Brownrigg (left), stage manager, Michael Venn, performer, and Simon Rainville, performer with some of the puppets seen in The Rainbow Fish.
Don Brownrigg (left), stage manager, Michael Venn, performer, and Simon Rainville, performer with some of the puppets seen in The Rainbow Fish. - Colin Chisholm

The Rainbow Fish comes to life

Approximately 100 lucky school children from Brooklyn Elementary School and local daycares got a sneak peak of The Rainbow Fish, Mermaid Theatre’s latest children’s puppet show, before it heads out on the world stage.

The show is based on stories from Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish and follow-up stories in the series.

Brooke Veinot, 6, said she really enjoyed the show and recommended that other children go see it.

“I really liked the Rainbow Fish, it sparkled,” Veinot said. “I liked how the dolphin’s tail could move, that was cool.”

The show is split into three parts: telling the adventures of a rainbow fish that travels around the ocean, meets new friends and learns some lessons along the way.

The puppets are lit up by black lights, and the fish appear to flutter in mid-air, giving each scene an underwater feel.

Michael Venn, one of the performers/puppeteers, is excited to take the show on the road in the coming weeks, with the first international show on Dec. 15 in New Jersey.

“One of the great things about doing a show like this is that often times, the audience is familiar with the story,” he said. “Some of these kids have read these stories dozens of times, and then to come and see these characters glowing in the dark and floating in space, it’s really magical for them and for us.”

Venn. along with his fellow performers, worked hard to get the look of the fish just right. The puppet's fins flutter, giving the character weight in a weightless world.

Jim Morrow, the director and production designer, said he picked the three stories for the show because they worked together theatrically.

“The process has taken over a year,” Morrow said. “I read the books and they stayed with me for a while and I story-boarded each play, which allows us to map out the choreography.”

From that point, the show went to the workshop stage, where the performers and director tinkered around with the various aspects of the show to make things click.

Morrow said the sneak peak - the first time the show has been shown in front of a live audience - is also an opportunity to make additional tweaks to the show before it goes on tour.

“We wanted to gauge the audience's response to the action on stage,” he said. “For example, I was very surprised that they counted when the crabs were coming out. I was happy to see that.”

A 10-show debut engagement at Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey from Dec. 15-18 will be followed by a two-month tour of venues and festivals in Canada and the USA during the spring of 2018.

Extensive North American touring is scheduled for the 2018-2019 season, as well as an 18-performance engagement in Singapore—Mermaid’s eleventh visit to that country.

It is anticipated that a Mandarin-language version will visit China in subsequent seasons.

Colin.chisholm@hantsjournal.ca

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