CRAZY CREATURES from Ensemble at Cast, Doncaster
Take a beautifully illustrated storybook, add a lively narrator, a gifted composer and a group of world-class virtuoso musicians and – wow, what have you got? An hour of dazzling musicianship, sparkling fun and humour, and hundreds of delighted, excited children enjoying every minute.
Music in the Round’s Ensemble 360, together with award-winning composer in residence Paul Rissman, have certainly got the magic of musical children’s entertainment down to a fine (nay, exceptionally fine) art. With a dozen successes already under their belts, this latest high class hit has the same vital ingredient: uncompromising all round excellence.
The stories chosen are ones that grip and thrill our early years and KS1 school children and whose sumptuous illustrations create exciting, colourful backdrops above the musicians as the story unfolds.
Following the previous one story format of the likes of Giddy Goat and Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants, this time Crazy Creatures presents two stories, both written by Jonathan long and illustrated by Corky Paul to tell the separate tales of The Duck With No Luck and A Cat Called Scratch.
As Dizzy Duck gets into sticky situations and Scratch the Cat, plagued by a flea that’s all nasty and teasy, takes drastic action, children and adults participate in the storytelling from start to finish, many having prepared first in school.
Singing catchy refrains and providing enthusiastic sound effects at the tops of their voices, they put in the actions too, as they swim, fly, scratch, roar, turn into crocodiles, windscreen wipers and hoovers, and join together in the fun.
Meanwhile, all the time, the music flows – and what music! While Rissman’s sophisticated, scintillating score gives every player’s expertise a chance to astound, the musicians of Ensemble 360, loved and revered throughout the land and beyond for their virtuoso delights and exciting repertoires in adult chamber music circles, play for the tots with no less passion and sparkle.
Surely no child can fail to be bowled over by the range of sounds and by the accomplished sweeps, flourishes, trills, plucks, bounces and vibrant shimmers of oboe, clarinet, violin and cello.
The fantastically grand piano work in Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals alone, which starts and ends the show, surely must inspire every soul with the joy of music.
Threading gold through this creative interweave of superb music and visual splendour comes Polly Ives with oodles of lively expression, warm enthusiasm and wriggle-quelling charm in her role as narrator and director of proceedings.
As super storytelling and live, vibrant music of unsurpassable quality bring charming stories to life, the combined magic captivates, fascinates, thrills, uplifts and inspires. And it’s so much fun! Lucky kids!
by Eileen Caiger Gray
Members of Ensemble 360 play together or in various other chamber groups up and down the land. Crazy Creatures will be performed in Yorkshire in June and July and in London in November.