Circa’s Mozart thrills with fun and frolics

30 September 2020

Roll over Beethoven – it’s Mozart’s turn for some fast and funky moves set to an all-time hit score, as Erin Hutchinson and junior reviewer Pippa Turnbull discover.

Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus, Circa Contemporary Circus & AWESOME Festival ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, 29 September ·
Erin Hutchinson ·

With perfect timing for the school holidays, Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus is a must-see for young and old alike. Brought to life by the Circa ensemble and director Yaron Lifschitz, the show captures the playful spirit of Mozart, the child prodigy, and is a wonderful introduction to his music.

With a simple interior set evocative of children’s drawings and some clever use of LED lighting strips, the production opens with a mix of ballet and tumbling by the birthday girl (Kathryn O’Keefe). Then she puts one of Wolfgang’s records on the record player and the sassy man himself (Paul O’Keefe) comes out of the magical doorway in the fridge with his accompanying accordionist (Gareth Chin).

Each piece brings a new idea of play and imaginative moves that have the audience gasping and laughing. The two performers demonstrate their agility and flexibility quickly and with some incredible paper floating, and O’Keefe shows her serious strength both on point shoes and in a series of handstands, headstands and balances on a chair that’s sure to inspire a few kids (and adults) to have a go.

As Wolfgang, Paul O’Keefe displays enviable chair balancing skills. Photo by Clare Hawley

Without giving too much away, what follows is a lesson in how to get dressed while riding a bike, a bit of “light” soccer (thanks to the innovation of lighting designer Geoff Squires), some clapping games you’ll want to explore, and the most energetic conducting I’ve ever seen. There are moments of much appreciated slapstick and some incredible acrobatic talent on display, though the O’Keefes make it look so easy they probably could have gone even further.

For classical lovers, the musical choices are wonderful, including recognisable concertos and operatic works in the mix. I particularly enjoyed the finale of a perfectly played “Queen of the Night” from The Magic Flute. In fact, the cheeky touches the winged, gold, onesie-wearing accordionist Chin adds to the music bring new life to the works – I doubt Mozart ever expected his arias to be performed quite like this. However, he would have approved of the costume design by Libby McDonnell, especially the jocks-and-socks look and incredible pink coat.

I found it a touch too long for my little three-year-old fidget monster companion, especially with the swing-down seats of the Heath Ledger Theatre. But the children in the audience were deeply engaged and excited by the antics on stage. And just as they probably are, I’m now inspired to limber up and get my chair balancing skills as good as Wolfgang’s!

Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus, Circa Contemporary Circus & AWESOME Festival ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, September 29 ·
Junior review by Pippa Turnbull, aged 12 ·

Today I went to the opening performance of Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus, part of Perth’s AWESOME Festival. The performing arts company, Circa, is from Queensland and the show was aimed at people aged three and over. Today the audience included children, parents and grandparents.

At the beginning of the show, a girl dances on to the stage and unwraps a birthday gift – one of Mozart’s records. When she places the record on the record player, Mozart himself appears out of a fridge and on the stage, dressed in a costume fitting of an 18th century composer. He is accompanied by an accordion player who wears a gold velvet onesie with wings for most of the show!

Mozart and the girl become friends and the show continues. The performance includes several pieces of Mozart’s classical music, dancing and movement, shadow puppetry, acrobatics, stunts and slapstick-style humour. This was a fun but gentle show and the age rating was appropriate. The younger children really engaged with the humour and at one point all the under-fives were roaring with laughter. Probably like all the other older members of the audience, I appreciated the dance, acrobatic movement and nail-biting stunts of the performance.

Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus continues at the Heath Ledger Theatre until 2 October and Bunbury BREC on 12 October.

Pictured top: Mozart (Paul O’Keefe) walks out of a fridge and on to the stage in ‘Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus’. Photo: Damien Bredberg

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Author —
Erin Hutchinson

Erin Hutchinson is an actor, singer, theatre maker and teacher who is passionate about local arts. Whilst she wishes she could still be a ninja on the monkey bars, she’s content to enjoy a turn on the swings… easier to still hold a glass of wine.

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