Reviewed by Janice Bailey
Judy Sampson’s choice of this Pioneer Production of Pocahontas is well suited to a large cast of enthusiastic young performers in training. The directors’ notes explain the democratic process which was used, involving the cast in all aspects of production to bring this charming musical to the stage. Guests were greeted by English settler young ladies doubling as usherettes and programme sellers. I particularly liked the ‘guard of honour’ the whole cast formed in the foyer as the audience departed . The audience participation at the beginning of Act 2 to involve younger members of the audience was also a nice touch, adding to the experience.
Opening night attracted a small audience of eager family and friends who were supportive and generous, given that nerves and inexperience were apparent throughout. The set was simple but effective and the use of projections added depth and interest. It is always difficult working with click tracks without the benefit of a musical director but overall the young cast coped well. Bailey Park as the Word Spinner was enchanting and vocally strong, as was Eloise Lesue in a dual role of Spirit Mother Earth and Esther. Ella Heywood-Smith as Aunt Morning Star provided a strong stage presence, while the trio of Indigo Radbone as Raven, Sarafina Crowhurst as Wolf and Maggie Felton as Squirrel were delightfully mischievious. Marina Deller-Evans portrayed her character of Mercy Rogers, a sharp-tongued citizen, with understanding and conviction.
Well worth a trip to the Hills to support these young people.