Theatrical treat for children travels globally

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New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Making theatre visually exciting and interactive could draw in children as spectators to an offline world, said Justin Taudien, production head of the Indian theatrical debut of a globally-read children’s book character.

The musical drama is adapted from the first book — “Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy” — of Scholastic’s bestselling book series on Geronimo Stilton.

The show which has enthralled the audiences in India, Hong Kong and Singapore, will now go to Australia.

Titled “Geronimo Stilton LIVE”, it was presented in a Broadway style, pulling back curtains into the imaginative world of Mouse Island.

With Stilton as the story’s pivot, the 90-minute production took place earlier this month at the Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) Stadium here, and saw a staggering number of children attend and participate.

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What made the musical drama a hit were its 3D effects, multimedia projections and its interactions with the spectators.

The characters came to life as they actively engaged the young audience through questions, songs and dance.

“The show has got visual graphic elements as well as physical elements. In a world with overwhelming devices, we have to connect to that mindset,” Taudien told IANS.

Bringing in the added elements just enriches the viewing experience, he said.

“You don’t have to worry about kids sitting in front of a screen, you can bring them to the theatre with the extra visual elements,” he told parents.

The show opens with a lively introduction of Stilton as the editor of “The Rodent’s Gazette”, and shows how a little adventure in his attic led him to freeing the fairy queen as the “chosen knight”.

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As he makes friends on the way, and tackles the villains dramatically in a land of fairies and dragons, the simple character of Stilton also exudes a bundle of positive values that children can pick vicariously.

What is most interesting is how subtly they are slipped into the narrative, setting an example as a performed fable.

“Acceptance of everyone is a key value we tried to push. Geronimo forgives, and he was always humble about him being a knight. I think that’s one of the powerful messages,” Taudien said.

“But, he was still the hero in the end. (He) kept pushing forward through the hard times, telling the children the hard and unpleasant times don’t matter, but what you do with those hard times does.

“Children want to chip in and help Geronimo, because he is so likeable,” he said.

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Upon asking if they liked the musical better than the book, many children replied they liked the latter for its detail, but the musical for the interest it grew in them.

Most parents reacted positively, something that Taudien’s words sum up well: “Kids everywhere have been dancing and jumping. What more would you want your children doing? Do you ever see them doing that with a device? It makes people feel alive.”

In India, Geronimo Stilton’s books are rated as the second most popular by the Nielsen Report.

–IANS

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