The Happy Prince was advertised as being ‘suitable for children 4+ years and anyone who wishes they could fly’, so I met the entry criteria. I arrived as a curious member of the audience, and left having been completely charmed and entertained. I was not the only one. For a short run of only six shows, the Parlour at the State Library of Queensland was filled with lots of very happy princes and princesses (and their parents).
Oscar Wilde’s short story, The Happy Prince, may have first been published over 120 years ago, but it was brought to life on May 10th, 2015. The Happy Prince is a moral story, with moments of both joy and sadness. A lively Swallow helps the Prince to transform the city below—putting friendship, and a concern for others, ahead of his desire to reach the warmer Egyptian climate. There were a number of children who moved closer to their parents as the performance unfolded, but all left with big smiles, and the occasional skip in their step.
The Perth-based Toy Soldier Children’s Theatre Company are to be congratulated for creating an event which appeared to be a perfect transition from family story-time to theatre-going. From the moment of their arrival, each member of the audience was welcomed to a special occasion. Adults and children all elected to be measured up for their own paper crown, and each carefully took on the responsibility of carrying a special feather as they were escorted to their seats. As the show began, and during many of the quieter moments of the performance, you could have heard a pin (or feather) drop. Everyone was spell-bound—enjoying the beautiful moves of the Swallow and energetic performance of the talented Gemma Sharpe. Courtney Turner was not only a skilled producer and director of the show, but is also to be congratulated for standing in at the last minute to replace Maja Liwszyc (who was unwell on Sunday 10th May).
The performance included ample opportunity for audience participation: energetic story-writing with a feather quill, acting as Egyptian mummies, and applauding the audience volunteer (well done Matt) who acted as the match-girl. The cast were available at the end of the performance for “dress-ups” and pictures with the performers, which was a lovely touch.
Director/Producer (Courtney Turner) and Gemma Sharpe, together with their behind-the-scenes team, created a charming, gentle, magical event which entertained an enraptured audience at the State Library.
The set was suitable for a travelling production—sparse but sufficient, in combination with the costumes, to spark our imaginations (set/costume by Kelsey Cross). CD’s of the story and music were available on the day to fund further travels of the Company (music specially composed by Brisbane-based Richard Grantam and Wayne Jennings). I managed to see the show in its last performance, but let’s hope that it will soon come back to Brisbane so that a wider audience gets the opportunity to enjoy The Happy Prince.
Main picture: Prince (Courtney Turner, Director) and Swallow (Gemma Sharpe), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.
Also Pictured: Prince (Courtney Turner, Director) and Swallow (Gemma Sharpe), in The Happy Prince, at the State Library of Queensland, as part of the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival (10th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.