The Quotable Sayak
The Quotable Sayak is a critic, contributor and coordinator of social media at SesayArts and student at Sesaya.
Munschtime! just received its world premiere at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre (YPT). It’s a new work by Artistic Director Allen MacInnis and Associate Artistic Director and Dramaturg Stephen Colella, based on 5 picture books by Canadian children’s author Robert Munsch: Pigs; A Promise is a Promise; Murmel, Murmel, Murmel; Too Much Stuff!; and Love You Forever. The concept for the show is clever, the stories are skilfully woven together, and I predict that if you see it, it will be on your list of the top YPT shows of this season.
I’m going to be completely honest . . . when I went to see this show, I didn’t know if I was actually going to enjoy it because I didn’t believe it was possible to make Robert Munsch interesting for a 13-year-old like me. I was pretty sure I would be able to appreciate what the show was aiming for, but didn’t know if I was going to enjoy it as a whole.
So what did I get with Munschtime!? Well . . . Munschtime! is a heck of a lot of fun. It is a blast to watch, as it reminds me of when my parents used to read me bedtime stories, and they created a picture or mini-movie in my mind. YPT, you brought that mini-movie to life and overall, blew my expectations out of the water!
Munschtime! is sure to be a family-favourite, with laughs for all ages, along with a few good lessons sprinkled in, for good measure. The biggest two lessons for me were:
1) that a promise is a promise and that you should always stay true to your word, and
2) that you are not alone – this is the YPT 2016-2017 season theme that is echoed in Love You Forever – which reminds us someone will always care for us and love us, no matter what.
Robin Fisher designed the incredible set for Munschtime!. This show ties with Seussical for my favourite set of the year because of how well-utilized and smartly made it is. The clever tent that is off to the side of the stage can also be folded down into the set. A drawer off to the other side of the stage is used in several stories (most notably in Too Much Stuff! for toys and Pigs as a chair for a desk), and also stores a ton of props inside it.
The final thing I want to comment on is the acting in this show, which is phenomenal, especially as there are only 3 actors – Cheri Maracle, Dov Mickleson and Lisa Nasson (whom we also loved in Roseneath Theatre’s Spirit Horse, which opened YPT’s season). The actors play several roles, some major (like the family in the framing story), and some minor, some very young, some middle-aged, and some old. These actors are versatile and talented, and clearly are having fun, which the audience appreciates. This is definitely one of the main reasons that this show works so well.
Munschtime! is only about 50 minutes long, but feels full, as it is fast-moving, and jam-packed with fun! This show felt like at least 90 minutes to me (in the best way possible) – and these stories felt like they were meant to be theatre shows. They didn’t feel adapted from picture books. While parents may not choose Munschtime! as a choice for themselves, they will still enjoy it, especially for the nostalgia it brings when they think about being read bedtime stories. For sure, they will appreciate this fun, over-the-top at times, high-energy, creative, incredibly well-strung-together show.
And as for the children? At the performance I saw, I could tell just by looking around the audience that they were engaged and thoroughly entertained.
So . . . what are you doing sitting there and still reading this? You’ve only got a few days left, so book tickets for you and your family! Munschtime! is a must-see.
News You Can Use
What: Munschtime! based on the stories of Robert Munsch; adapted by Stephen Colella and Allen MacInnis; featuring Cheri Maracle, Dov Mickleson and Lisa Nasson; directed by Herbie Barnes
Who: Suitable for everyone!
When: On stage until May 14, 2017
Where: Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 3Z4
Information and Tickets: YoungPeoplesTheatre.ca and 416.862.2222
Explore and Learn: Munschtime! Study Guide
© 2017 The Quotable Sayak, Sesaya