By Jill Hodge
It was a cold, wet Earth Day this year, but hundreds of families felt the glow of Africa’s warmth during the Dallas Children’s Theater production of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters performed at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College. Part of the Target FamilyFun Series, the production, based on John Steptoe’s Caldecott Award-winning book of the same name, invited audience members young and old to experience authentic African dance and drumming on a journey illuminating the personal rewards of kindness and friendship.
Mufaro’s two daughters, opposites in temperament, present themselves to the king after he announces his intention to marry. On the way from their small village to the city, the two daughters embark on vastly different journeys through a mystical jungle. Will they share with the beggar boy, heed the warnings of an aged sage, and find favor among the dancing trees? Filled with plenty of suspense amidst the singing and dancing, the life lessons were interwoven in a magical display that made them accessible to audience members young and old. As my 8-year-old daughter whispered in my ear, “I’m sure Nyasha (the kinder sister) will share her food with the poor boy,” I knew that she too was drawn into the drama. The lesson: that the king would choose a worthy wife filled with compassion to be queen.
Children in the audience giggled as squabbles ensued about who had the prettiest daughter, hands clapped in rhythm to the drumming beats, and there were hushed tones when the characters leapt in joyous dance. The natural wood set design, the evocative singing, and the inventive use of masks, dance movements, and humor made this a truly transformative experience.
Next up at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing arts – the American Family Theater’s production of Cinderella on Sunday, May 20th at 2pm. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College: http://www.brooklyncenteronline.org. Don’t miss out on what’s bound to be another quality family theater production for children 4 and up. Visit http://www.brooklyncenter.com/ for more information and to purchase tickets.
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