Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: A Celebration of Opal Whiteley

Weaving music, poetry, in a celebration of the earth, The Morningtime of Now is a family friendly theatrical event inspired by the whimsical world of Opal Whiteley. Whiteley, an American nature writer, serves as the centerpiece for a multi-discipline piece featuring the vocal talents of Anne Hills, music by Michael Smith, and the puppetry of Doug Roysdon. With a supporting ensemble consisting of Mallory Fran deForest, Catherine Restivo, Anna Russell, and Kayla Prestel as the voice of Opal, director Doug Roysdon adds heart and soul into Whiteley’s already fruitful poetry. What makes The Morningtime of Now special is the beautiful artistry each person brings to the table. The puppets by Roysdon are quite exquisite. From the large Opal to the little ones, even to her horse Shakespeare, each marionette had character and charm. Anne Hills has a rich folk voice that pairs well with Smith’s music. If ever there was someone who could sing you to sleep, it’s Anne Hills. The quartet of puppeteers lead by Prestel did a fine job telling the stories from Opal’s journals. And with each scene came a new set of puppets and backdrops.
The only issue that seemed to arise from The Morningtime of Now was the repetition. Prestel and Co seemed to follow the same structure. Opal talks, Anne sings and offers a personal anecdote, puppet scene, repeat. With the piece originally inspired by a solo show, perhaps a slight restructure may be in order. Rather than Anne’s relationship to the material, maybe a more biographical story on Opal and her life, aside from the journals, could be interesting. If this is a celebration of Opal Whiteley, make it all about Opal Whiteley.
The Morningtime of Now is a beautiful work of art. It’s something that appeals to audiences of all ages. The tone of the piece is very soothing, it just lacks a little fire whatever that fire may be.