“Moana Jr” is a piece of Disney music theatre which brings us to the Pacific islands and follows the exciting enterprises of Moana and her imaginary village of Motunui. Most of the songs by award- winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina including the much loved “Shiny”, are included in the piece. “Moana Jr” is an adaptation of the 2016 Disney animated film.
It is a rite -of -passage story tracing the journey of Moana searching for fish which the village can no longer catch and are not allowed to go past the reef. Moana sets out across the vast Pacific in order to save her humble village from despair and poverty. She finds much, much more along the way.
But Moana is not alone in her quest. She is accompanied by the rather unearthly and weird god figure of Maui. The journey is one whereby each eventually comes to a form of self-knowledge.
The demographic of this enterprising and scintillating Company is age 7 to 14 years and they have all been highly drilled with the basic skills of music theatre-acting, dancing and singing.
Director Jayden Prelc, Choreographer Amelia Sanzo and musical director Taylor Tran, are all graduates of A.Y.T. themselves and know instinctively the standards required and have trained well these confident young performers in these skills.
With much vitality, the performers in the “Wind Cast” on the night, responded by providing the audience with a lively, fast -paced show that rarely faltered, despite the required American accents which go a bit “wobbly”at times, lending some stridency into songs, making hearing lyrics just that bit harder to comprehend.
The music is driven hard by the energetic cast, particularly the ebullient and vigorous Henry Tran as demi -God Maui. The diction of the ensemble in their heart -warming songs is generally clean and they were both enchanting and engaging. Bridget Chan as Moana, the maiden whose lot fell upon her to save the village from despair, was a delight. The wonderfully noisy audience on the night, of Grandmas, Mums and dads brothers and sisters made it clear that she was their favourite.
Dressed in in a stunning, glittering 24 carat gold lame costume, Sebastain Cocks gave a clever performance as Tamatoa.
The costumes were made lovingly by “many helpers” and were appropriate and immaculate for each scene.
Matt Ralph’s lighting design worked remarkably well with some tricky changes needed at times during Maui’s and Moana’s “Sea Change” journey of self – discovery.
This is a show that highlights and showcases the hard work which has gone into each member of the cast, producing a harmonious, collective production.