How to tell kids a story with music


One of the most famous and cautionary stories in European folklore makes a beguiling and atmospheric translation to the stage in this inventive operatic version.

Composed by John Browne with libretto by Johnny Hanrahan, the score, with its strong echoes of Benjamin Britten, achieves drama as well as musicality thanks to the beauty and clarity of mezzo-soprano Colette McGahon's wonderful Mrs Grumble, while the expressive bass, Orlando Schenk, is hilarious as the greedy Mayor.

Tenor Michael Bennet convinces as the Lame Boy; he also sings the baker's role. The three soloists do far more than sing. They act their roles with humour and energy and are well served by the lively cast of eight children.

This show is extremely well directed. Much thought has been given to detail. Joanna Taylor's versatile semi-gothic set of openings and levels is a magical cavern. The folk aspect is also underlined by violinist Lucy Perkins.

Devised for a young audience, the genius of this Pied Piper is that it entertains and also introduces children to the concept of opera as a story with music; while the use of the instruments to convey mood is a delight, as is the use of mime.

Percussionist Diarmaid Frain is outstanding, a veritable orchestra of special effects, while oboist Brendan McCann as the Pied Piper intrigues, not only by his playing, but through the strange, otherworldly stage presence he creates.

His mime-like gestures defy words and he allows his oboe to speak for him, particularly to children, a device which is cleverly sustained by the endearing Lame Boy and by the town's children he later lures away.

Young audiences will remember this intelligent, captivating show which does not perform down to them. A new generation of oboe players and violinists could be inspired.

All performances are now sold out. For information on cancellations, phone: 01- 670 7788.