Rachel writes from Western Australia with a review for UNIMA Australia
By the Kaleidoscope Ensemble
PERFORMERS: Gillian Catlow – violins; Joanne Foley – puppeteer; Charles Hoernemann – guitars; Ron Reeves – winds/percussion
The Kaleidoscope Ensemble invites you on a musical journey into the jungle where Bobo, the young orang-utan, finds a violin and eventually creates an orchestra. Gillian Catlow and Charles Hoernemann have taken this lovely tale about the joy of music and transformed it into a sing along mini musical for younger children, with puppetry at its heart.
Little Bobo, the young orang-utan is a performing puppet who actually plays the violin during the show! Expertly manipulated by puppeteer Joanne Foley, sometimes assisted by the musicians, the puppet constantly keeps the audiences interest and steals many scenes, with precise detail in the movement and expression of a young orang-utan clearly displayed. From the expressions on many children’s faces, meeting Little Bobo the puppet afterwards, made their experience even more memorable.
The Kaleidoscope Ensemble has undergone many changes since they formed in 2003, but what has remained constant is the passion and enthusiasm for discovering and sharing stories with music. ‘Playing music and making a story, telling a story with your music, that’s what it’s all about’ said Gillian Catlow, who had the original idea of turning the picture book into a musical stage show, and secured the rights to translate it from the original German to publish the book in Australia in 2010.
Catlow, Hoernemann and Reeves are an award winning and talented musical team, with songs as upbeat and melodic for adults, as well as for young children. The lyrics are catchy, and children not only have chance to participate in the performance, being invited onstage to play in the band but also after the show ends. The Kaleidoscope Ensemble are in no hurry to finish the show, and children are delightfully encouraged to ‘have a go’ and try out different instruments.
Playing a variety of exotic wind instruments (tarogato, furulya, sarunai), percussion, guitar, ukulele and of course violin, the musicians and puppeteer bring the story of Little Bobo to life in a unique and captivating production. With inventive sound effects to create the atmosphere of the jungle, and lovely humour for children and their parents, Little BoBo is an ideal introduction to music and theatre for young children.
For aspiring young musicians, sheet music from the show and a music cd of the Little BoBo song, are available to buy afterwards, to extend the learning experience back at home. Packed with fun, interaction, surprise and memorable original tunes, this show will delight audiences of all ages.