‘Moana JR.’ brings Disney magic to Harquail Theatre

Students have been rehearsing in earnest for their big show.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this time of the year is like local Broadway season, with musicals and plays popping up in the theatres almost weekly.

‘Rundown’ took to the stage in March; Quinntessential Movement performed ‘The Wizard of Oz’ soon after; the Cayman Music School followed with its performances of ‘Matilda JR.’; and the Cayman Drama Society starts its run of ‘Noises Off!’ on 20 May.

This weekend, however, fans of the Disney smash hit ‘Moana’ can relive the inspiring story from the animated film, adapted for the theatre, when students from Musicians Ltd. perform ‘Moana JR.’ at the Harquail Theatre.

There are three opportunities to see it over 15-16 May, with 3pm and 7pm shows on Saturday, and a 3pm matinee on Sunday.

Margaret Dumaguing (Hei Hei) and Carmen Ebanks (Pua) go through lines together.

It is hard to believe that the movie debuted five years ago. Starring Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui, it was widely praised by critics and audiences alike. A strong storyline, coupled with memorable songs, made ‘Moana’ an instant classic. And who can forget Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa, the giant crab that belts out ‘Shiny’?

The tale of an adventurous teenager who sets out on a journey, meeting demigod Maui and a cast of characters along the way as she fulfils the ancient quest of her ancestors, can now be enjoyed live as ‘Moana JR.’. Unlike some other ‘JR.’ shows, this is not a shortened version of a full musical. It is, in fact, the first stage adaptation of the film, and clocks in around 60 minutes.

The students of Musicians Ltd. have been rehearsing tirelessly in order to bring their best to the stage. Director and producer Cheryl Chernowski spoke about the work everyone has put into the production, emphasising the attention to detail that was necessary to pull it off properly.

“‘Moana JR.’ is my first experience of being the main director,” Chernowski said. “I’m usually seen in the orchestra pit or on the technical side of a show. It has been an excellent adventure and challenge for myself but mostly for our students. We are very proud of how they have coped with the many dances, songs, and – most importantly – the variety of oceanic languages that put this entire show together. They have worked professionally throughout the entire process which made them a delight to teach each week… even when we had sung ‘How Far I’ll Go’ for what felt like the fifty millionth time!”

There is a cast of 34 children from ages 5-15, inclusive of children sponsored by Cayman Arts Trust. The lead of Moana is played by Sophie Dickson, with Siena Clemens-Orr as Maui, Caitlin Doran as Tamatoa, and Paris Rhone, Yukthan Kumar and Millie Travers as Chief Ancestors.

About Cayman Arts Trust
The Cayman Arts Trust was formed in 2017, with the aim to provide equitable access to music and performing arts for all students in the Cayman Islands. It has provided scholarships with Musicians Ltd. to enable students to further their arts education, offering them the highest quality music instruction and performance opportunities, while raising funds to develop a free-of-charge peripatetic music programme at public schools.

In the summer of 2019, the trust held its first free performing arts camp. In the first week, children were able to learn stage craft, storytelling, and song and dance through the story of ‘Peter Pan’. In the second week, they were taught about a range of different instruments and played as an ensemble.

The camp gave the children insight into performing, playing instruments and creating imaginative pieces of visual art. It was also a great way for the children to socialise and make new friends from a number of different schools.

This year, once again, the trust is holding free summer camps for Caymanian children ages 6-12, at the Musicians Ltd. studio on Dorcy Drive, thanks to the generous support of the R3 Cayman Foundation. From 6-9 July from 8:30am-2:30pm, it will be Around the World in Music and Culture Camp and from 12-16 July (same times), kids can participate in Band Camp. This is an amazing opportunity for young ones, but places are limited. Call 525-6787 or email [email protected] to apply.

| Tickets for ‘Moana JR.’ are on sale at www.musicians.ky. Shows are at 3pm and 7pm on Saturday, 15 May, and 3pm only on Sunday, 16 May. Venue is the Harquail Theatre. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $15 for children.

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