I Theatre’s hit musical The Rainbow Fish returns to the stage in April 2016 for the first time in five years as part of the homegrown theatre company’s 15thanniversary season.
Based on Marcus Pfister’s award-winning tale about the Rainbow Fish, it contains many invaluable lessons about pride, selfishness, generosity and humility. It is no wonder that this much-loved story resonates with parents and has been embraced by children everywhere.
In fact, the story is so popular that I Theatre has staged their musical version of The Rainbow Fishseven times. It has played to young audiences all over the world, including countries such as India, U.S.A., Australia and United Kingdom.
With expectations running high for the upcoming run of this well-known tale, Little Day Out spoke with the team from I Theatre to find out how they are preparing to thrill young audiences when it opens.
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Cast of The Rainbow Fish (from left to right): Elizabeth Loh (Tiny Stripes), Dwayne Lau (Big Violet), Ann Lek (Starfish), Ethel Yap (Rainbow), Windson Liong (Small Blue) and Alecia Kim Chua (Green).
Even after helming The Rainbow Fish so many times, I Theatre’s Artistic Director Brian Seward says he can’t help but get excited with each new run.
“We’ve changed the script, brought in new subsidiary characters, and had new actors playing different roles each time. So there is always something new and we are always finding something different.”
One of the most obvious changes introduced over the years is the shift from actors wearing their character costumes on their heads to manipulating them as puppets on poles.
This, Seward says, has added another dimension to the production. “With the re-designed new puppets, they can do all sort of acrobatic things that the actors can’t do. So dynamically on stage it’s much more exciting and more interesting to watch.”
A new character has also been introduced into the story.
Tiny Stripes, played by Elizabeth Loh, is an inquisitive fish who acts as the audience’s advocate in the musical.
“Tiny Stripes was brought in so she could ask the questions that the audience would like to ask,” says Seward. “As a new character, she helps to find out the background to the story and characters and sets the scene.”
Of course, there is plenty of the familiar too.
In fact, the 2016 production of The Rainbow Fish will feature actors who have performed the musical several times in the past. This helps to bring continuity to the production and allows the actors to build on past lessons.
“Veteran” Windson Liong plays Small Blue. He first worked on The Rainbow Fish ten years ago and is amazed when he meets young people who have been impacted by the show in a big way.
“I recently met a theatre intern who told me she watched the production in 2008 and loved it! It’s amazing that she remembers and continues to love the magic of theatre, influencing her to get involved in the theatre scene,” Windson says.
Ethel Yap, who is joining the cast for the first time, plays the central character Rainbow. She is thrilled to be part of this continuing legacy.
“It’s very fun to be very part of this cast and part of this family; they’re always regaling us with stories about what the previous productions were like, which is always interesting with lots of funny stories. So, it’s very nice to come into this while making it fresh and different.”
While the production has evolved over the years, Seward says the excitement in reaction young audiences have to the work remains.
“There is such a strong universal response to the puppets, and the visuals, because this is such a visual piece. Even if they don’t get the words, they see the interactions and know the intentions. It’s the same all around the world.”
Adding to the timeless message of the story, Seward believes that the production’s original music adds significantly to the theatre-going experience for audiences.
Composed by Belinda Foo, the original music makes the production memorable for audiences. Says Seward, “The songs she (Belinda) has written are amazing. Some of the songs when they get into your head, they just don’t get out of your head again.”
For Dwayne Lau, reprising his role as Big Violet, it is a thrill to see all the visual and musical elements come together and bring the story to life for young audiences.
“The children know the story in terms of books and pictures. I think it’s beautiful because when it’s on stage, their imagination materialises in front of them. It becomes visual for them and brings the book to life in a different way.”
If you and your kids love the magical story of The Rainbow Fish, or just want a chance to experience a wonderful time, don’t miss the chance to catch it on The Drama Centre Theatre stage. If not, you might have to wait another five years before having a chance to do so again.
I Theatre’s The Rainbow Fish plays at The Drama Centre Theatre from 26 April to 15 May 2016. Tickets are on sale now.
Rainbow Fish 2016 by I Theatre
Director: Brian Seward
Music by Belinda Foo
Rainbow: Ethel Yap
Small Blue: Windson Liong
Tiny Stripes: Elizabeth Loh
Green: Alecia Kim Chua
Big Violet: Dwayne Lau
Starfish: Ann Lek
Octopus: Joshua Lim