There are a few ingredients that go into a hit children’s production. Colourful characters, for one. A fun and timeless storyline, for another, plus visually arresting set design, easy-on-the-ear music and a dash of goofy humour.
I Theatre’s The Rainbow Fish ticks all the above boxes and more, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the company’s most well-loved productions. Based on the worldwide bestselling children’s book series by Marcus Pfister, the troupe first performed it in 2002 and has restaged it seven times in the past 14 years due to popular demand. Given this year marks I Theatre’s 15th anniversary, bringing back this all-time favourite is a no-brainer.
For this latest run, artistic director Brian Seward has worked in all the new puppetry and lighting techniques that have come about since The Rainbow Fish’s last staging five years ago. The result is a far more immersive environment and beautiful puppet characters and sets that really pop out at you.
The entire play this time is performed under Black Light, with actors in all-black clothing holding up big puppets on poles instead of wearing them as costumes on their heads. This has allowed the actors to move the puppets about in a way that is much more expressive, dynamic and, well, fish-like.
With the Black Light effectively “blacking out” everything apart from the luminous paint-coated puppets and sets, what you see is a striking, neon-coloured underwater world. Random sea creatures “float” by in the background, from jellyfish and super cute seahorses to schools of colourful small fish. The octopus, in particular, is a sight to behold. Imagine watching florescent aquatic life at the dark bottom of the sea floor and you get an idea of what it’s like.
Seward said, “I think this is about as close as possible to my ideal way of presenting this play. If only there was some way to make the actors ‘disappear’ so you don’t even see their silhouettes when they stand in front of the props…”
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The visual accomplishments help bring the story to vivid life. A by-now classic tale that’s been known to strike a chord with kids, it holds strong lessons about friendship, pride, sharing, inner beauty and the importance of individuality. Seward has retained the original storyline while incorporating a few new characters, such as the fish Tiny Stripes and the villain of the piece – a hammerhead shark with a Japanese accent.
With lovely original music composed by Belinda Foo tying everything together, the overall result is a winning production that’s highly pleasing to the eyes the ears and the mind.
Go Behind the Scenes of The Rainbow Fish with us.
For more on The Rainbow Fish, download this set of The Rainbow Fish activity sheets now!