by Judith Jarosz · August 26, 2015
Solina, from Little Did Productions, is billed as a full length puppet opera and is a lovely way to spend an hour marveling at a creative presentation that is suitable for both kids and adults. The story features an ebullient 11-year-old title character named after the sun with parents who adore her and tell her every day that she is a treasure. Solina loves her life and wakes up each day with the help of her buddy the rooster ready to luxuriate in her existence. She seems a kind enough little girl, but not one who really knows just how lucky she is. She doesn’t think beyond her own realm.
Then, suddenly one day the sun does not come up. It has been stolen by the jealous moon, who doesn’t feel she is getting any credit of her own. At first Solina is frightened, but then she decides to go and rescue the sun. Along her journey, she meets many diverse characters, including a wise owl, some bats, a pack of wolves, and finally the moon herself. Each different encounter helps to make her think outside the box at how everyone and everything affects each other.
The puppets are all beautifully designed and constructed, and the artists do a wonderful job of bringing them to life. I particularly enjoyed the jolly little moles, in what looked like a “whack-a mole” arcade game come to life, and the wolf heads with teeth and eyes that light up in the dark. This pack might be a wee bit scary for tiny toddlers, but I think most kids just seemed fascinated by them, and the story does have a happy ending…of course!
Director Jessica Marie Lorence keeps a lively upbeat pace and the original music by Luke Santy (who is also the musical director, accompanist and narrator of the piece) is an extremely entertaining mixture of styles, bringing to mind various groups including Coldplay, Queen and Santana, among others. The harmonies are tight and the whole cast handle the vocal challenges well. Kudos to Brooke Cohen for costume design, Mary Ellen Stebbins for lighting design, Sara Jane Munford for moon, set design and construction, Katarra Peterson for puppet design, and Tristan Schaffer-Goldman for wolf design and crafting, as well as the rest of the entire cast: Anya Gibian as Solina, Nathaniel Moore as Rooster, Malia Wright as Owl Puppeter and Lucas Sanooff as Bat/Musician.