Littlies (several wearing angel wings) danced and clapped. They cheered and waved their arms about. Truth be told, so did their parents and grandparents. That is because The Australian Shakespeare Company really knows how to tap into audience sensibilities. Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies, in the magnificent Ripponlea Gardens, is a treat for those after colour, movement, crowd-pleasing songs and laughter. A few hundred attended the day I did. I would venture to suggest none went home disappointed. How could they?
A large canopy with clear sides is set up for those looking to shelter from the sun (brilliant idea). The vast majority sat under that on picnic rugs. Yes, they could all fit. The show was created by The Australian Shakespeare Company’s founder and artistic director Glen Elston. It has been choreographed by Sue-Ellen Shook, who is one of the performers, along with her children.
Tinkerbell (from Neverland) makes an appearance first. She is looking for her wings, which were blown away at sea. She wants our help to find them. We are all anointed as fairies and elves. She is soon joined by four dream fairies – Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed. They are lost and ask Tinkerbell for help trying to get back home to the Land of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Only Tinkerbell is none the wiser.
So, Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies becomes a fun-filled lost and found exercise. That results in a series of lively tunes, dances, athletic and acrobatic feats and plenty of crowd involvement. I thought the music was delightful and perfectly pitched at the appreciative audience. With lyrics like “Walking on Sunbeams and Skipping on Starlight” how could you possibly go wrong. At one point, we are asked to get up and turn around. Kids are transfixed (so was I, mind you) by professional bubble-making machines. Who doesn’t like playing with bubbles? And that fits in nicely with the theme of finding Bubble Land.
All performers are first rate. Unquestionably the most popular was Mustardseed, who just couldn’t get things right. In fact, we were all encouraged to call him out when he didn’t. And he was the one who lost the map that would have gotten the dream fairies home without bother. Before the 70-minute show draws to a close, the youngsters are split into two groups and are led down the garden paths to try to find Tinkerbell’s wings. Colourful umbrellas twirl, all the players find what they are looking for and the smiles on youngsters’ faces speaks volumes.
A good time is being had at Ripponlea under the watchful eyes of Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies. As soon as the show ends, the cast reassembles for a few happy snaps for those desirous of a lasting souvenir. Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies is on until 23rd January, 2022. You can buy tickets from $25 at www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The Wind in the Willows (The Australian Shakespeare Company) – theatre review
- William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) – theatre review
- Shakespeare in Love (MTC) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.