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by Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor & mom to a gorgeous chatterbox. Follow her on twitter

This is another triumph from the National Children’s Theatre, which seems to be getting better every year. From an imaginative set to expressive physical theatre; from catchy songs and dances to a nicely abbreviated plot, Underneath a Magical Moon is lovely for little kids, big kids, and grown-ups.

What to expect

Positioned as ‘Wendy Darling retells the story of Peter Pan’, Underneath a Magical Moon is UK playwright Mike Kenny’s musical adaptation of the James Barrie classic Peter Pan. What’s unique about this version is that it ditches the stiff Edwardian archetypes of the original, and presents three modern-day kids who camp out in their wendyhouse – complete with emergency cellphone.

What it’s about

Wendy and her two brothers have set up a tent in the garden, with a midnight picnic of ‘crisps and pop’. No one can sleep, so Wendy recounts a bedtime story about pirates, fairies and Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. All three act out the story, with help from assorted household and garden implements.

John throws on his Dad’s tartan dressing gown to become Hook, Tinkerbell (who’s a bit of a cheeky skelm) turns out to be trapped in the black dustbin, and the cleverly reimagined ‘Clock-odile’ has jaws made of garden rakes.

The highlights

Underneath a Magical Moon has a compact cast, toe-tapping music and lyrics, and clever dances, making it ideal for a younger audience. There’s swashbuckling, yes (using pool noodles and an umbrella), but no violence. And the non-PC ‘Redskins’ are omitted, thankfully, in favour of mermaids.

Look out for stand-out performances by Daniel Keith Geddes as John/Hook and Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku as Wendy (whose slightly inconsistent accents are saved by her gorgeous singing voice and animated face).

The entire song list is delightful, so much so that I can’t choose a favourite. But you can expect soul, funk, African beats, dreamy lullabies and even rap.

Sarah Roberts, a multi-award winning theatre designer, uses local flavour to bring to life an already ingenious set design and vibrant costumes. There’s:

  • an over-sized patio umbrella representing the magical moon,
  • Hook’s pirate ship: a wheelbarrow with a tea towel sail, and
  • mermaids’ tails crafted out of sleeping bags with braces attached.

Age recommendation

I’d say 4-plus is a good age range for this show, which isn’t too long or complex for little theatre-goers. My 6-year-old loved every song, dance and scene, and the youthful audience (aged 5-10) was loudly enthusiastic.

The show details

You’ll find Underneath a Magical Moon at the National Children’s Theatre, 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown, in March/April school holidays. It’s 1.15 hours long. Shows at 10:30 and 14:30;  Click here for contact and other details re booking and more.

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