This production had a dual cast in the principal roles. TASA reviewed both casts. David Smith reviewed the Te Ka Cast and Allison Thomas reviewed the Te Fiti cast.
Te Ka Cast Review – David Smith
NOW Productions has a justifiably growing reputation for staging big musicals to appreciative audiences in the well-appointed Shedley Theatre. Moana Jr continues the trend. Maisy Jo is the talented sixteen year old director, and while working within a well-organised and supportive youth theatre company, she has achieved a very pleasing result with this Pacific Island tale of adventure and fantasy. She was well supported here by Musical Director Cloudy Davey and Choreographer Ella Ashenden. The voices were well tuned and well coordinated with the music, and the dances were well devised and suited the large cast and the themes of the play.
The set was simple yet sufficient and the director and choreographer made effective use of what they had at their disposal. The scenes set at sea were very well illustrated with the three flowing blue cloths operated by cast members and dancers. The puppetry worked well, too, in influencing the characters and illustrating the story line.
I saw the Te Ka cast and was very pleased I did. Shanee Proctor played the title role Moana with empathy and strength of character. She worked well with the other cast, especially Riley Mobbs as Maui. Her vocal strength was well suited to the role and her many songs drew enormous applause from the large audience of youngsters, all of whom, it should be noted, were politely attentive through all of the action. This audience was clearly thrilled by what they saw and heard.
Maui was played with enthusiasm and verve by Riley Mobbs. He established the character early on and sustained it with skill and life. Further, his young baritone was well up to the task in his many songs. In acting, he established a pleasing balance in all his scenes with Moana.
Providing a fine supportive family for Moana were Oliver Calver and Aubrey Gibson as her parents, and Melanie Filmer as her kind and generous grandmother, Gramma Tala. Georgia Lauro and Elijah Proctor were poised, effective and entertaining as the comic duo, Pua and Hei Hei. Their costumes were bright and well devised, as for that matter, were all of the casts’ costumes, coordinated by Kylie Mobbs and Lynda Cook.
Belle Coulson was delightful as the young Moana, and held character well, both in acting and singing. Micah Oster, playing the giant crab, Tamatoa, made the very most of his big scene and its song, Shiny. He used his presence and extraordinary costume to excellent effect.
Alex Carpenter, Meri Wagland and Heidi Grace Allen, as the three Chief Ancestors, were particularly impressive. They made regular appearances, often providing important narration, and they played their roles with clarity, clear voices and style.
We should all be enthused by NOW Productions’ consistent promotion of young cast and production teams, as witnessed so clearly in this latest production. I know I am.
Te Fiti Cast Review – Allison Thomas
I saw the Te Fiti cast, led by Alyssa Faranda as Moana, who was extremely expressive in her facial reactions and acting, as well as having a lovely strong voice.
The seamless transition from the beautiful Georgia Lauro as young Moana to the older Moana was magically executed in the evening performance.
For me, 15 year old Lucy Oster’s performance as Gramma Tala was outstanding. From her hobbling walk to her pure singing voice, she portrayed an old woman extremely well.
Bethany Swift, enchantingly played Hei Hei and her cheekiness and good humour shone through her chicken costume.
Moana’s supportive pet pig, Pua, was charmingly performed by Belle Coulson.
Kyle Mobbs’ Maui was very energetic and he had a great voice.
The coordinating narration, both spoken and sung, by three Chief Ancestors, Levi Seyfang, Khushi Choudhari and Georgie Stelzer was clear and well performed.
The special effects crew outdid themselves with Tamatoa’s ultraviolet, glowing costume and the ensemble’s orange and green costumes. I loved Chelsey Binns’ dancing and singing – shiny on all levels!
Our six year old reviewer loved the two Moanas best, and the Crab costume, and she thought the shark costume was the funniest.
Well done to all the cast and performers!