The Little White Town of Never Weary is an interactive musical adventure for 5 to 8 year olds from Scottish Opera based on a children’s story by acclaimed Scottish writer and artist Jessie M King.
The best way to describe this story is to use Scottish Opera’s own description from their website:
“Once upon a time, a bored little girl called Jessie built The Little White Town of Never Weary using cardboard and glue, a wee bit of magic and a lot of imagination. A hustling, bustling hive of a place; full of friendly faces, always ready to play, to make and to do.
But that was 100 years ago, and The Little White Town hasn’t had a visit for a very long time. Lonely and unloved, its magic is fading and the whole place is falling to bits! The vibrations from the old bell tower are making the buildings crumble and the townsfolk are in a terrible tizzy. It’s all up to Jessie’s great-great-granddaughter now… Can you help Jessie Junior, Gilbert, Dame Lucky, Sweetie Meg and Boofoo the Talking Cat save the town before the next hour strikes?”
In this charming story it is amazing just how quickly the children here at The Brunton in Musselburgh are completely pulled into the make-believe world of this story and much of that is due to Charlotte Hoather as Jessie M King’s great-great-granddaughter. Other performers on stage include John Kielty, Stuart Semple and Frances Thorburn . A few in-jokes here too that maybe the adults in the audience caught- Ginger the Baker who plays drums and percussion also being known as “Ginger Baker”.
Lyrics and story are by Martin Travers with music and songs by Karen Maclver and the “Anything Is Possible” song gently reinforces a positive message to the children all throughout the story.
Visual design here captures a flavour of the colours and artwork of a Jessie M King book, and with the help of the children the town is of course saved.
What is actually amazing to watch here is not only how the children respond to the different musical instruments and sounds used in this performance, but how without question they so readily accept a story being told in song and music. This is so important because, stripped of all its finery, opera is nothing more than a story told in music and song.
Putting on big productions is obviously important to Scottish Opera, but it is nice to see the company getting out into the community and engaging with young children directly and bringing that experience to them at such an early age. Over the course of this production, around 1,000 children will see this performance, and hopefully the experience of this show will last with them all for a very long time.
Watching the children today and how easily they accepted the magic of this story and entered into this world of story and music should I hope too remind any of the adults going to this show how important it is never to lose that wonder of watching a story being told.
Review by Tom King