From Galaxies to Gumleaves

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2 reviews for From Galaxies to Gumleaves

  1. Maverick Musicals


    DIRECTORS NOTE (from original production) I feel very privileged to have workshopped From Galaxies to Gumleaves. We had heaps of fun, developed a great script, and the kids had a wonderful time. Galaxies is an amazing play that is fun, easy to work with, and great for young theatre groups to perform. There are lots of thing that can be incorporated into the play to make it even more exciting. Galaxies is a play suited for production by primary aged children (8-13yrs) and works perfectly with a cast as small as 15 members. We did the show with about 30 children and found that it was a great number, some of the actors were able to play doubled roles, but we didn’t need to rely too heavily on over-using actors. It’s best to use 4-5 really good actors to anchor the cast (in pivotal roles) and rely on other actors to fill the smaller roles (even if they double up some of the roles) The songs are great fun and easy for kids to learn and sign. Many of the ‘ensemble’ songs lend themselves easily to dance movements and turning these songs into a singing/dancing piece works well too. The solo songs also work really well if they are given a genre to follow. Ornithorhynchus is a very catchy song when done in Elvis style, using timing and rhythm similar to the eternal Blue Suede Shoes. It works even better with the cast singing backing vocals! Cruising Outer Space is a classic country song (a la Dolly Parton or Tammy Winette). Owl’s wonderful song It Doesn’t Matter has a great Tango riff that works spectacularly. Owl stole the show, and audience’s hearts, with his gorgeous rendition of this number, complete with “Cha, cha, cha!” at the end of the song. Casting should be taken quite seriously. The roles of Thing, Swaggie, Platypus, and lead animals (Roo, Emu, Kooka) are important and need to be well cast. We found that some actors struggled with understanding the humour behind their lines and kids who are able to deliver lines are well suited to lead parts – considering their comic effect. I believe this play, despite its obvious morals, is a comedy. Therefore it’s important to try and use kids who are able to deliver comedy. Costumes and props don’t need to be onerous. The set can be a simple, open stage with some curtain legs in the wings (which the actors can hide behind) and some see through scrims that characters can also hid behind. Just remember that when you perform this play, you may have 30 or more kids running on and off stage at once, so you need big spaces and generous entry/exit points. We used a Paper Mache ‘billabong’ (resembling a rock-like half-moon) in which the fish and platypus spent most of the production; hiding behind it and bobbing up at the appropriate time or during dances. The costumes we used were hand-me-downs from adult shows. Each actor wore blacks (black pants, black shirt) and many had fur coast, jackets, tights, sequinned dresses, etc, to help represent animals. All of our animals had hoods (faceless balaclavas) with ears, beaks, bills and more sewn on. A nice touch was the use of extras such as vests (matching vests according to animal groups), mortarboard and glasses (for Owl) and other little personal touches that make the costuming fun. It also helps to distinguish between animals, which is important too! The most fun we had during the whole show was using face paint. A dedicated team of helpers designed and painted faces for most of our animals (the actors who doubled as animals and humans were the only ones who didn’t get face paint). 20 painted faces takes a long time, so be prepared to call children in for performances 2 hours before the show starts so that you have time to get faces done. Proper face paint is more expensive, however it’s much better to use -– it will last longer and won’t crack or dry out as quickly. When the kids are wearing their face paint for 3 hours, those things matter! The Corroboree Scene. Here you have two options. We approached a local Indigenous group (the Gubbi Gubbi Tribe) and they gave us permission to use Aboriginal myth and legend in our production. This tribe also allows females to play a didgeridoo (which was important, as our didge player was a girl). If you have Indigenous kids in your group, getting permission shouldn’t be difficult. However, if you don’t want to go that way, simply change “Jumboree” to “Spirit Of The Forest” or some similar name. If it’s not Indigenous (referring to Aboriginal or Islander culture) then you’re fairly safe. Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of making your “Jumboree” actor look or sound Indigenous. This is the basis for discrimination (white kids pretending to be black). We solved the problem quite simply by having an actor stand behind a translucent scrim. He had a light behind him, which created a silhouette. All the audience could see was a moving, speaking shadow of a young man. Another element we considered was the venue in which we performed. Smaller venues are better because it’s intimate and easier for children to carry their characters. In big venues children have trouble projecting their character to the audience. We also decorated the entire hall with painted canvas hangings. Each hanging had trees, branches and leaves painted on them. Hundreds of little stuffed animals were also hidden around the hall. Overall, the effect was great. From an audience point of view it seemed that the hall was a part of the billabong. Lastly there’s Thing (aka Ghost of the Billabong, aka Bunyip). This is your lead role and most important character. A young lady, Kirby Lunn, played Thing in our production. This little girl has an enormous voice and personality. She did, without a doubt, make the show memorable. Her talent blew the cast and audience away. Without a convincing “Thing” you’re going to have trouble. Your best actor, male or female, needs to be given this role. For Thing’s costume we went with an interesting idea. For the majority of the performance Thing wore a yellow stretchy material. It was quite baggy, with her arms hidden inside and a hood to hide most of her hair. All we saw of Thing was her face (painted) and a stretchy baggy yellow shape. This worked well to help the audience identify Thing as an alien. She definitely looked different! At the end of the show, after Thing is transformed into Bunyip. She stripped off the yellow costume and underneath was another outfit. It should be a dark costume with scary features (claws, etc) so that the actor could become the Bunyip in the billabong that humans fear. Well, all that said, From Galaxies To Gumleaves is an easy production. If directors take the time to put some preparation into the show then it will work wonders. This is a great little musical that your kids will love performing and audiences will love watching. Just remember to milk the ‘cute’ element as much as possible. Kids dressed as animals is always a winner when it’s done well! I hope you have as much fun putting this show together as we did. Break a leg! Yours in theatre
    David Smeaton (director of premiere production by Caloundra Chorale, Queensland. AUSTRALIA)

  2. Maverick Musicals


    It was most encouraging to see these kids tackling a full length production and enjoying it so much, as did the audience. It’s a simple tale of an ET (Thing #135) crashlanding in the Aussie outback and, with the help of many bush creatures, finding a name for itself to replace its numerical identity. The kids enthusiasm also made Galaxies entertaining fun – it’s a good and undemanding musical for primary school level production.
    Ian Austin, theatre critic, Sunshine Coast Daily

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