Have you ever asked for something big? How big? A sandwich? A puppy? A car? A house? A MOUNTAIN?! Talespinner Children’s Theatre (TCT) is touting a tale of epic proportions, as it presents “The Oba Asks For A Mountain,” playing now through April 29, 2018.
Written by Gail Nyoka, this Tale of Nigeria can be seen on the Reinberger Auditorium stage, bringing all the bigness of a mountain into the intimate theater full of magic and sparkles. Audience members of all ages are welcomed into the colorful space to become genuine members of people of Ilesha. A large mountain looms in the back, a blue river runs along the lip of the stage, green foliage floats from the ceiling, and the tiny village embraces its new members with a song!
With direction by Chennelle Bryant Harris and movement by Andrea Belser, the story takes place in far-off Nigeria, but deals with subjects that are as close to home as one’s own friends and family members.
The royal Oba (OBA! OBA! OBA!) is great and powerful, yet he still wants more. The king will do anything to take the resources from the lands around him, so he gives the gracious Ileshans some seemingly impossible tasks in order for them to “avoid war.” He demands fresh-picked vegetables over great distances, non-rotten meat that must be kept perfect for a week, and finally – he demands their mountain! Think “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…” but with greedier intent… and on a grander scale.
The story has lessons of problem-solving, ingenuity, good hosting, and of fighting for what one believes in.
Bryce Evan Lewis is an adorable and smart Agiri-Asasa. Lewis gives the character a heart-warming smile and a wonderful perceptiveness that leads the charge with a positive grace.
Bryon Tobin is a fun and feisty Dayo – a bit of a goof to Agiri-Asasa’s focus, the two pair together in a playful and productive manner.
Jailyn Harris is a multi-faceted player as Oshun / Abeni. Oshun is the African goddess of Love and Sweet Waters. Harris brings a sparkling joy, and a warmth to the character, who is described by our Ileshans as “loving sparkles,” and known as a beautiful lover of song, music and dance.
Finally, the quintet of this acting ensemble is rounded out with the dynamic duo of Devin Davis and Leilani Barrett. This pair is delightful together! As messengers, they pick up one another’s cues to make the Oba’s (OBA! OBA! OBA!) dark demands seem scary, but in the most amusing way. They also elicit laughs with Barrett’s portrayal of the Oba (what an deep, evil laugh he has!) as he puts the snarky verbal smack down on Davis’ messenger character (who has some amazing dance moves!)
Although there are not as many puppets/masks in this production as in other TCT shows, the pieces in this show by Melanie Boeman are lovely. Alison Garrigan’s set is simple, yet striking (rendered beautifully by lead scenic artist, Carrie Williams), and her costumes are gorgeous and flowy – hats off for the use of glitter! Josh Heidinger’s lighting design is effective, and the production is kept in motion by stage manager Tim Maca.
“The Oba Asks for a Mountain” (a Tale of Nigeria) plays now through April 29, 2018. Shows are Fridays at 7:00pm, Saturdays at 2:00pm & 7:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. Ticket prices are Age 12 and Under — $10, Age 13 and Over — $15, Seniors and College Students (with ID) — $12. And as always – the cast is ready to meet the audience after every show!
Remaining Ohio Savings “Pay What You Can” Series performances are Fridays, April 13th, 20th, and 27th.
For more information or to purchase, visit talespinnerchildrenstheatre.org, call 216.264.9680, or email email@example.com. The Reinberger Auditorium is located at 5209 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44102.