WINDSOR – Mermaid Theatre's beloved children's production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites is hitting the road for a 10-week engagement in China.
The final rehearsal for the 40-performance tour took place in Windsor July 5.
“Everybody here at Mermaid is committed to making the best plays in the world and as a result, we're one of the most celebrated children's theatre companies in the world – right here in Windsor,” said Mermaid's artistic director Jim Morrow.
The theatre is known as Canada's most widely-travelled performing arts companies for young audiences.
“I didn't envision that this would happen but I trusted that it would if we worked hard,” said Morrow.
This is the theatre's third trip to the People's Republic of China – and shows will be performed in French, English and Mandarin.
“We can actually substitute language in and out and it doesn't affect the performers that much,” said Morrow.
“They don't perform to the language of the show, they perform to the music track. So all of their cues are based on references to music,” he explained.
The music was created by celebrated composer Steven Naylor.
Performers Jackson Fowlow, a Hong Kong-born Newfoundlander who lives in St. John's, and John Allen MacLean, from New Perth, P.E.I., will bring the characters to life on stage during this 10-week tour.
Musician Don Brownrigg, a Halifax resident originally from Codroy Valley, N.L., will be the stage manager. Morrow, who resides in Avonport but is originally from Grand Falls-Windsor, will accompany the crew for three weeks.
“We prefer to hire most of our performers from Atlantic Canada so we're really lucky this time we have people from both islands,” said Morrow, noting that MacLean is the longest serving performer. MacLean has been with the Windsor-based theatre company for about 13 years and has travelled the world with Mermaid several times.
“It's performed all over the world to 2.5 million people so it's very popular,” said Morrow of the show.
“Children all over the world love this kind of entertainment, this kind of theatre. It's no different in China than really anywhere. Children are children.”
The show will be performed at the Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts Centre from July 15-17, before travelling to other areas, including Xi'an, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Nanning.
As Mermaid tours the world, they promote the region where it all began.
“It's important to note that all of the shows that tour around the world begin with an opening that introduces Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and we talk about that we're from Windsor, and we talk about giant pumpkins and the Birthplace of Hockey, and high tides. All of that is promoted all over the world,” said Morrow.
Did you know?
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites has been on the road continuously since 1999.
- There have been more than 3,600 performances of the show in seven different languages.
- The show has been performed in 16 countries.
- The Mandarin-language version of the show is narrated by Dashan, a Canadian-born stage and television performer.