Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review of Emerald City Theatre's Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans. The book and lyrics were by Will Osborne and Murray Horwitz. The music and additional lyrics were by Allen Toussaint. It was based on the book A Good Night for Ghosts by Mary Pope Osborne. It was directed by Samuel Roberson and the music director was Austin Cook and the choreography was by Florence Walker-Harris. It was about a boy named Jack (Garrett Lutz) and a girl named Annie (Katrina Kiss) who are brother and sister. They go to a treehouse where if they open up a book they can go to where and when that book takes place. This book takes place in New Orleans and they are going to help Louis Armstrong, whose nickname is Dipper (Gilbert Domally), see his pathway to music. They also get to meet his friends--Lil Mac (Angela Alise), Big Nose Sidney (David Robbins), and Happy (Trequon Tate)--and see what he was like as a child. I used to read The Magic Treehouse series all the time; I read about 50 of them! I really liked the show. The books and the show are so fun and educational and you get enveloped in the story.

I loved the Heebie Jeebies song. They sang it while they were in a blacksmith shop and there was a ghost chasing them. I loved the style of the music, which was jazz. And the entire musical was jazz, which was really cool and appropriate for a musical about Louis Armstrong. I loved the dance that went with it. It was kind of like shaking your hands like they do in Beyoncé videos. The song was about trying to get all the scary things away. They each had one thing they were scared of, so each person could protect the other people from the things that scared them. They were trying to say, "You can be scared of something but if you have your friends with you the heebie jeebies won't get you because you can help each other get over the heebie jeebies."

I really like jazz, so I found the scat parts really cool. Annie was pretty good at scat and I really liked that. Jack was not good at scat at first, but I think he got better over time. Jack was a little overly dorky in this production. In the books he isn't a dork and he isn't scared of everything. He is cautious and smart but that doesn't mean he is a dork. Dipper did such a great job at scat and he was such a great singer. He was really fun to listen to. He didn't sound like Louis Armstrong in the songs I've heard, but when he was a kid maybe he did sound like that before his voice got so low. I think it was a good idea not to make himself sound like Louis Armstrong as a grown-up when he sang since he was supposed to be a kid.

Dipper had a lot of different jobs: carrying bananas, lugging coal, and washing dishes. And Annie and Jack, to get more information, would help with each one of those jobs. I thought that all the songs that went with the work were so fun and great. The dancing went really well with the songs and it got the kids in the audience dancing along with it, which was adorable. Dipper thinks, "How can you think this work is fun?" and Jack and Annie are like "Because we are doing it with you." Then he calls them potato heads. I thought that was super funny and I love how they took the potato head line out of the book. Dipper can't help his friends for no money because he does not have very much money and he has to help feed his family. Jack and Annie can do it because they both have money and live in the future. In the time they are visiting, people of different races couldn't ride together on transportation. When Dipper tells them that, it is very sad because that was a terrible terrible time. There is still racism now, but at least there are no laws saying that you can't ride next to a person of a different race on the train. I thought it was very sophisticated to have that part in the play because you don't want to just lie to children about history.

People who would like this show are people who like jazz, fun dancing, and potato heads. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is fun for the whole family and I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Isabella Coelho

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