On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of seeing The Tempest, presented in a wonderful musical adaptation by Raleigh Little Theatre’s Teens on Stage and Teens Backstage. Kidznotes was fortunate to partner with RLT in this unique production; a group of Kidznotes students played the overture and sang as members of the ensemble during a couple of musical numbers.
Before Saturday night, my only experience with The Tempest was through John Irving’s novel In One Person, in which the teenage protagonist performs the show with his classmates at their New England prep school. I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you that I adore John Irving. I have read every novel he’s published, and would put the excellent In One Person pretty high on my list of favorites – right after A Prayer for Owen Meany and A Widow for One Year.
The young women and men in Saturday’s production were a marvel to behold. What stood out to me above all else was the full commitment each performer brought to the show. Despite the intimate, theater-in-the-round setting, no one held back or broke character for even a moment. The show raced by – about 100 minutes long with no intermission. I kept thinking to myself how proud these teenagers’ parents must have been. I was proud and I didn’t even know them.
Of course, I was also incredibly proud of our Kidznotes musicians. They played and sang energetically and confidently, despite being five shows into a long six show run. I was particularly proud, though, of a young lady named Jessica. She sang in the ensemble, looking and sounding cool, calm, and comfortable with Shakespeare’s notoriously difficult and beautiful language. What is truly amazing is that Jessica and her family moved here from Venezuela just last year. At the start of last school year, she did not speak English. This weekend, she sang Shakespeare on stage with performers twice her age. That, as Prospero declaims, is “such stuff as dreams are made on.”
Pictures weren’t allowed during the show, so I grabbed a couple of shots backstage, and one quickie before the show began. Enjoy!