May Gibbs’ bush adventure story has been brought to life as a ballet and junior reviewer Bethany Stopher delights in the fun and playful choreography.
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The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, West Australian Ballet and AWESOME Festival ·
Perth Cultural Centre, 28 September ·
Junior reviewer Bethany Stopher, age 14 ·
The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, based on the iconic children’s book by May Gibbs, is a free event performed by the West Australian Ballet as part of the Perth AWESOME Arts festival. It is an enjoyable and quirky performance that captures the eyes and hearts of the audience, both young and old.
The choreography by Andries Weidemann is fun and playful, while still being intricate and precise. The two gumnut babies are adorable, dancing with childish, frisky steps that perfectly represent the the bold Snugglepot (Keigo Muto) and more timid Cuddlepie (Sarah Ross) who only wants to see the humans “from a distance”. Ragged Blossom (Kassidy Thompson) is portrayed as shy and sweet with a lovely, forlorn little dance before she meets her new friends. The sinister Mrs. Snake’s (Beatrice Manser) dangerous edge is emphasised by her harsh and menacing movements, from the sharp angles of her port de bras to her powerful grande battements. The enchanting Mrs. Fantail’s (Kristin Barwick) dance is flitting and delicate. The audience especially responded to Mr Lizard (Brent Carson) with his smarmy character, slicked back hair and exaggerated dramatic facial expressions. Carson earned many laughs as he posed and grinned smugly at the crowd after coming back from the brink of death.
The costumes and props are stunning; set and costume director Amalia Lambert should be commended. Staying true to the original story, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie wear puffy leaf shorts with a tight leaf bodice to keep it decent and with gumnut hats as their crowning glory. Mr Lizard really steals the show with his sparkly, scaled suit and long tale. Mr Frog (Ziggy Debricat), had on amusing goggles and a waistcoat, which complemented his energetic attitude and explosive allegro sequences. Mrs Kookaburra (Emma-Rose Barrowclough) wears a detailed head with a large beak, so that when she throws her head back to “eat” the rubber snakes, it looks as if they are really falling into her feathered belly. Barrowclough was very vivid as first the old, forbidding Mr Kookaburra, then as the cheeky Mrs Kookaburra. The bird eggs that Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are trusted with have a surprising element, which makes the audience jump.
When Mr Frog shows the gumnut babies the underwater passage into Mrs. Snake’s dungeon, the dancers hold poles of flowing blue fabric, with dolls tied on to represent the characters. This allows the story to continue with its very simple but effective setting. Emma Jayakumar composed the music and also narrates the story, which is a very beneficial feature as it reinforces the plot clearly.
The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie is a delightful show that was a very nostalgic experience, as I grew up as a young child reading the classic, whimsical Aussie fairy tales. It is a free event for the whole family to enjoy, and an opportunity to be introduced to the wonderful world of ballet. There is even an interactive dance-along after the conclusion of the show, for your little dancers. Even with today’s rainy weather, this performance gathered a huge crowd, so I advise getting there early to secure a seat. It runs daily at 11am until 2 October at the Perth Cultural Centre, so be sure to head to this city for this treat of a performance.
West Australian Ballet’s The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie plays the Perth Cultural Centre until 2 October 2020. Entry is free but you will need to register online before entering.
The show is also live-streamed to the Northbridge Piazza.
Pictured top are Sarah Ross as Cuddlepie and Keigo Muto as Snugglepot. Photo: Bradbury Photography