I had a chance to catch YPT’s production of Blue Planet and I’ve got to say that it was a lot of fun. I was there to support a few friends involved with the show and even though it was a show geared towards children and young people, it was an enjoyable experience.
For the uninitiated, Young People’s Theatre is all about professional production programming for kids and youth. It can be very much like Sesame Street or Treehouse TV at times, but since it’s theatre, it’s live. From a theatre professional’s standpoint, the professional production side of it is something that needs to be stressed. As much is this is a kids’ show, it is far from a kids show. There are some serious production elements at work here from detailed, multi-layered lighting design and well-thought out sound designs creating the near-subliminal atmospheres, to set and costume designs created to accommodate jumping around flying. (Literally.)
And the writing, direction and performances have to be recognized here too, because it’s one thing to make those elements work well for the average audience, but it’s a whole other ballgame to make those elements attainable for younger minds and attention spans without it being too preachy or patronizing. Good youth theatre doesn’t talk down to kids just like good contemporary theatre doesn’t treat it’s audience as if they’re stupid. It has to be clever, engaging, and witty enough to appeal to children as well as the adults taking them. (They’re the ones paying for the tickets after all.)
As an audience member, I feel that this show achieves all of these criteria successfully. And as much as I didn’t mean to make this a review, I suppose it is now. My original intention was to show how enjoyable and relevant a children’s theatre show can be for all ages, and how it can even sometimes fire up the imagination better than a show meant for an older audience. (Because let’s face it: a lot of theatre is boring. But that’s a whole other post.)