Disney’s Winnie the Pooh KIDS
Young People’s Theatre, Hamilton
Ends December 10
Disney’s Winnie the Pooh KIDS is a musical for very young performers, with Young People’s Theatre using a cast of seven-to-10-year-olds for the first time. And the youngsters certainly show their talents in the engaging show, which is adapted from a Disney film with characters and incidents from A.A. Milne’s classic children’s stories.
The story packs a lot into a delightful 35 minutes, as Pooh Bear and his friends search for the boy Christopher Robin. A note he has left has them believing he has been captured by a creature called the Backson, and they plan to trap the Backson so Christopher Robin can be freed.
Most of the story is told through songs by a team including Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and the Sherman brothers, Robert and Richard, with the young actors, in two alternate casts which each have 23 performers, bringing the characters amusingly to life. The always hungry Winnie the Pooh, for example, is accompanied by a plump figure who is his rumbling Tummy always in search of a snack. The Tummy Song has the pair moving around in the hope of finding food.
The characters are a colourful collection, clad in bright costumes which reflect their natures. Kanga and her child, Roo, for example, would certainly be at home jumping through the Australian bush, and the thoughtful but slightly pompous Owl wears an academic’s gown and cap. The bees, who ultimately help Pooh get his honey, are flashy and always in flight. And the set certainly has the look of the Hundred Acre Wood.
As well as featuring primary-school-aged actors, Winnie the Pooh KIDS also serves as a training vehicle for a young staging team. That team, including director Laura McLean, musical director Taylor Reece, and choreographer Galatea Kneath, likewise help to make this a show which has adults as well as children laughing and applauding through its packed running time.