"Bluenose" in Mammoth; review gives thumbs up

It is universally acknowledged that getting an elementary school kid to sit still for 35 minutes is nearly impossible—unless you have a special kind of magical comedy.

I think most people remember their first exposure to theatre. You spent most of your days in the sunlight, until one day you and your buddy get off the bus and walk into a dark room with a brightly lit stage on the far end. I was always too short to see over the person in front of me, and would struggle to balance, sitting cross-legged in the theater seat, until the lights were all dimmed.

Five years ago Shira Dubrovner, Artistic Director for Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre, started Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA)—a program that brings performing arts to elementary school students in the Eastern Sierra. For the past week, classrooms full of kids have been introduced to another kind of theater (that doesn’t have a screen in front of it).

Private performances of the play “Bluenose” by Emil Sher have been entertaining kids at The Edison Theatre for the past week, with a special public performance on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m.

Bluenose is the story of three pirates—Ratt, Spatt, and Knat—who have red noses and their eyes on “pillaging and plundering” the next island they find. While on their journey, they inadvertently capture in their net a young woman named Ku. Not only does she have different ideas, a distant culture, and distinct language, her nose is blue!

When the pirates don’t like how strange Ku appears to be, they tie her up and decide to use her for “plundering” practice. Ku believes Knat might not be as swashbuckling as the other members of the crew.

The performance is full of physical comedy and witty one-liners that appeal to all ages—a definite fun for younger theatergoers.

The play’s theme is meant to encourage the audience to resolve differences by accepting each other’s diversity, not just our similarities, and to get to know someone before making judgments.

The experience of going to live theatre in our youth is magical: children learn what makes them laugh and what they relate to, and they explore aspects of their imagination with their peers and the performers.

Mammoth Lakes Foundation hosted the opportunity for Eastern Sierra children to enjoy stories brought to life, and the children happily accepted the invitation.

Director of Bluenose, Doug Oliphant, also stars as pirate Captain Ratt. Oliphant is the Artistic Director at Drive Theatre in Los Angeles and is fantastic at movement direction and fight choreography.

This past week he held a movement workshop for adults and a separate one for kids at The Edison Theatre.

Joining Oliphant on stage are Taylor Calmus (Spatt), Anthony Storwick (Knat), and Erin Barnes (Ku)—all professional actors in Los Angeles.

They were delighted to spend the week inducting young audiences into the performing arts family.

When Dubrovner told the young audience at the end of the show that they’ll all be invited back someday, the kids cheered and fist-pumped the air.

For reservations for Saturday’s performance, call 760-934-6592.

Admission is $10 for adults $7 for children. The play starts at 2 p.m. at The Edison Theatre and runs roughly 35 minutes with no intermission.