This modern spin on a classic fairytale is an entertaining way to introduce children to opera, writes junior reviewer Saskia Haluszkiewicz.
Rapunzel, Freeze Frame Opera
Liberty Theatre, 28 May 2023
Reviewed by Saskia Haluszkiewicz, aged 13
The somewhat gothic setting of Liberty Theatre helps set the atmosphere for Rapunzel, the rotating tower effective in allowing the actors to appear in both internal and external scenes.
Penny Shaw’s witty dialogue and direction keep Freeze Frame Opera’s modern take on the classic fairytale moving at a fast pace and the audience engaged. I enjoy the clever mime and physical comedy, such as the prince, disguised as a French man, wielding a baguette against the witch (Charis Postmus) and her wand, and the prince disguised again as a female singing teacher.
The children in the audience love the comedic remarks from the hairdresser Figaro (Ben del Borrello), and the puppetry with the prop cat brings smiles to all our faces.
Perhaps because it is aimed at young children, the romance between Rapunzel (Ruth Burke) and the prince (Keaton Staz) in this version feels a little rushed. The plot doesn’t allow for the tension to build up the relationship between the characters, but their duets are still enjoyable.
The music (from Rossini’s Barber of Seville and reworked by the company) gives the performers an opportunity to display their singing talents, accompanied by a skilled pianist (Tomasso Pollio).
As Rapunzel is a touring show, Freeze Frame uses a simple setting, allowing the focus to be on the music, the singing, and the movement.
I love that Freeze Frame can take opera anywhere, including schools, meaning the performers are versatile enough to adapt to different venues. The acoustics of the Liberty Theatre allow their beautiful voices to reverberate around us (although occasionally, an echo effect causes the lyrics to lose some clarity).
Overall, Rapunzel is a funny and intelligent take on the traditional story, and it is nice to see an audience interacting and enjoying themselves. What a good way to introduce children to opera.
Pictured top: Rapunzel (Ruth Burke) is caught between the witch (Charis Postmus) and the prince (Keaton Staz). Photo: Maks Pavic
Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.