Story by Natalia Temesgen
Images courtesy of Springer Opera House
On Friday, October 4, the Springer Opera House opened “The Rainbow Fish” by Austin Zumbro, its second show of the season in the Children’s Theatre Series. Presented in the McClure Theatre, “The Rainbow Fish” is a delightfully melodic, artfully choreographed musical for young audiences directed by Krista Maggart. Adapted from the internationally best-selling children’s book, “The Rainbow Fish” follows an admired but conceited fish with beautiful rainbow-colored scales as he comes to learn that being the most beautiful is hardly a worthy aspiration, and sharing one’s shine with others makes the whole sea brighter.
I attended the opening performance with my children, aged 4 and 6. Last season, we attended each of the Springer’s Theatre for the Very Young offerings geared toward audience members aged 0-5 years old and their caretakers. Those productions are perfect for squirmy tots who want to touch and talk and play, as they provide consistent opportunities throughout the short performances for tiny audience members to do just that! But “The Rainbow Fish” offered my children a stepping stone into a more traditional theater experience. With a runtime of about 45 minutes with no intermission and performances that encouraged audience participation, the whole family remained engaged from start to finish.
But even before the first cue, we were instantly transported by the incredible scenic design of Constance Tolbert, CSU alumna and current Artistic Associate at the Springer. Dazzling waves, colorful coral, and bubbles – literal bubbles! – let us know right away that we were under the sea. Each technical designer creatively and effectively signified the wonder and splendor of the sea while making sure to retain the sense of play that would excite young audiences. Costumes were bright and tactile, lights created all manner of moods, and props were a particular treat during a portion of the show in which audience members get to play with them!
You’ll also enjoy watching upbeat, contagious dance numbers choreographed by Maddie Tweed. The cast’s voices are strong and bright under the direction of Debbie Anderson; nearly all sing without any amplification from a microphone. You will tap your toes, you will gasp in surprise, and you will surely laugh (my son guffawed so much at the silly Barnacle, played by Orien Roy, he started slapping my leg in excitement). There is much to love here.
Still, the moral of “The Rainbow Fish” may be its most inspiring attribute. When we meet Rainbow Fish, played earnestly by Nathaniel Ward, and his scales that act almost as his posse (Macy Cardwell, Tennyson Smith, Riley Wolfe Rach, and Meri Claire Marano), he is a self-obsessed character. He assumes that everyone else in the sea thinks he’s the most beautiful because of his uniquely sparkly scales, but later realizes that it’s hard to make friends when you think you’re better than everyone – especially when you’re unwilling to share your gifts with others. The young sea creatures, played by an ensemble of delightful Springer Academy students, model a different behavior for the audience. They are loving friends, never one-upping one another nor hogging the attention. As Rainbow Fish learns from their example, he eventually lets go of some of his scales and gains true friends in return.
There are still two weekends left to enjoy The Rainbow Fish, including a sensory-friendly performance on Saturday, October 12 at 2 p.m. Once you’ve enjoyed it, mark your calendar for the rest of the Children’s Theatre Series. Keep an eye out for January’s innovative “Twinkle, Twinkle, Littlest Star,” which will take place in the planetarium of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center with original projections just for the show.
For more information, click here.
To purchase tickets to “The Rainbow Fish,” click here.
If You Go:
What: The Rainbow Fish
When: October 4-20
Where: Springer Opera House, McClure Theatre, 103 10th St. (First Avenue Entrance)
This story was written by our new contributor, Natalia Temesgen. Read more about Natalia here.