What a way to finish off the school holidays – exploring the big blue world of Finding Nemo Jr.
Disney’s Finding Nemo Jr is a 60 minute musical adaptation of the beloved 2003 Pixar movie Finding Nemo, with new music by award-winning songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Marlin, an anxious and over-protective clownfish, lives in the Great Barrier Reef with his small fry Nemo, who longs to travel the world beyond their anemone home. But when Nemo is captured and taken to Sydney, Marlin faces his fears and sets off on an epic adventure across the ocean.
With the help of adorable characters such as the optimistic but forgetful Dory, a laid-back sea turtle Crush and his bale, and the supportive Tank Gang, not to mention making it past the Great White Bruce and his hungry shiver, Marlin and Nemo both overcome challenges on their journey to find each other, and themselves.
The set is charming and bright with slick moveable stairs to create height and drama, an excellent fly system with nets and coral dropping from the ceiling, while the lighting and projection is vivid and cartoonishly realistic.
Costumes, coordinated by Diane Kilpatrick, were clever and impressive, using plush sea life toys as head pieces to represent each mammal. The jellyfish scene was ingeniously characterized by a sea, pardon the pun, of transparent umbrellas with luminescent streamers moving around the stage.
The production team, while young, were hardly inexperienced.
Directors Harry Ince and Kiara Linke, who also made a cameo as Nemo’s mum Coral, understood the assignment, and allowed the young cast to shine with their stage direction and guidance.
Musical Director Oscar Bridges, with a few professional credits to his name already, created delightful harmonies with the already memorable songs.
Mason Pugh, making his debut as Choreographer, assisted by Zahli Linke, pulled together some wonderful sequences to best show off the skills of the performers.
And this young cast were marvelous from start to finish!
All ensemble members had a part to play, and Adelaide Youth Theatre do an incredible job of being all inclusive and embracing of all skill levels.
Supporting actors Maisie Lewis, Anika van der Walt, Mia Khairul, Chelsea Collins and Gracie Cheung who played Peach, Gill, Bubbles, Gurgle and Bloat respectively were charming and inviting, as were Crush [Georgia Polischko] and Squirt [Tessa Richards] with their fun number ‘Go with the Flow’.
Edward McEwan took on the role of Nigel the pelican made famous by Geoffrey Rush in the film and Catherine Kilpatrick played Professor Ray with heartfelt honesty.
The three sharks, Bruce, Anchor and Chum, played by Asher Gordon, Hamish Skene and Sebastian Cox were suitably menacing and gruff, but brought the comedy with their tap-dancing number ‘Fish are Friends Not Food’
Henry Tran played the cynical clownfish Marlin with conviction and earnest belief, especially in the imaginative track ‘In the Big Blue World’ while Lucy Stirling was fabulously funny and excellently eccentric as the absent-minded Dory. Her voice floating through the theatre in her number ‘Just Keep Swimming’.
But it was young Milla Ilic who stole the show as Nemo. Impeccably cast, she displayed professionalism beyond her years, a soaring and musical voice that was note perfect. She was in control of every scene and was completely believable as the excitable little fish who only wants to discover the world.
Another fantastic production, and congratulations to this team!
With only a few performances left, you better leap and dive to get yourself a ticket!