Review: SKATTEN PÅ SJØRØVERØYA at Chateu Neuf, Oslo

DSCH Comes to Den Norske Opera in June

DSCH Comes to Den Norske Opera in JuneSwaggering pirates, X marks the spot, a chattering parrot, "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum"? All present in this fun, but uneven production. It is funny, if not yet quite quick, clear or sufficiently frightening. This adaptation by Kulturværste premiered last year at in Stavanger and later in Sarpsborg, and now the pirates have ventured to Oslo. The cast of merry pirates shines and they are this show's strongest suit.

The script condenses the plot of the novel although it sticks relatively close to the story, although the nature of the pirates are changed to fit with the lighter tone of this version. Squire Trelawney is portrayed as woman, and this is a welcome change, since the original only have two minor female characters.

Even though "Treasure Island" is one of the most exciting adventure stories ever written, there have been many (in my opinion) unsuccessful attempts to musicalize it. The most well known in Scandinavia has been the version written by Danish musician Sebastian, which premiered in Oslo almost 30 years ago at the very same theatre, and have been played countless times since. While I feel this new adaptation is in many ways superior to Sabastian's version it suffers some of the same issues. The original novel, also is a fun adventure, but it is more menacing in its nature, and while I understand the need to make it lighter for the children, this sacrifices at the same time what made story so popular in the first place. Of course this is a matter of taste and choosing the target audience (of which I'm fully aware I'm not a part of). But still I remember what made me fall in love with the story as a very young child. Even young children can cope with some scares and thrills as long as it is done in a safe way. But I do see it is a difficult balancing act, so the end result is very... VERY kid-friendly.

The songs are mostly happy up tempo pirate songs with a few ballads in between, and while the songs are easy to listen to, there is little variation in style and expression, and only a few ("Skatten på sørøverøya" and "Røve og ta") got under my skin. Svein Gundersen has written both some of the most memorable Norwegian ballads, and (in my opinion) one of the best Norwegian children musicals ever, namely "Jungelboka", so I was expecting more from him than what was presented here. Hans-Petter Thøgersen's lyrics are easy to follow with the occasional clever with puns and quips. He has written a fine adaptation and it works well even though it would have worked even with fewer, and more plot-driven songs.

Every time the humor turned a little "lowbrow" you could hear the children really enjoyed this. The children seemed to really like the Østfold-accents as well, which it seemed like the actors were downplaying. I would welcomed more accents actually. Accents and more of the talking parrot.

This show's true power lays in its the cast. There is no shortage of talent in Østfold. The acting and singing is great. Some in the cast obviously have more dance training, but everybody moves well enough for the ensemble numbers to be very harmonious and effective, choreographer Anniken B. Lundberg has done a fine job with this cast. Ole Jacob Lindberg's charming Long John Silver is very joyous and light hearted. He has a big stage presence, but he could have shown a more dangerous side as well to make it more exciting. Morgan Lillehjem as Jim Hawkins also works very well. He is relatable and has a naive charm to him. His voice is also very pleasing to listen to. Malin Schavenius as MRS. Trelawney is a pleasing addition to the story. I have a great musical-nerd memory when it comes to past productions so I remember seing her in the original cast of "Annie" and didn't she also play Beth in "Oliver" at this theatre 30 years ago? How time flies! Her voice is great and she has great comic timing and is both brave and a blabbermouth (as was the original character).

The supporting players almost steal the show at times, and I mean that in a GOOD way. Aina B. Gundersen as Israel Hands (and various parts) and Johannes Lindrupsen as Black Eyed William (and parrot) stand out as the most comical and both are hilarious. They do the most with what they are given and got the biggest laughs from the audience.

Hermann Gudim Lundberg's direction is tight and to the point. The scenic design seems inexpensive and basic, but nontheless effective. As for the lighting I would have liked a richer design to transform the basic sets in that way would encompass (pun intended) the many different environments like the sea voyage, the island and so forth.

This playful production will make young viewers want to seek their own adventure, hopefully. But I little tip: Go to the toilet before the show and don't chug your drinks, because this show is 90 minutes long, and this will the children's test tiny bladders.



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From This Author - Christian Ranke

Christian Ranke is a writer, singer, actor and graphic designer. He has translated several musicals, such as EVITA (Rice/Lloyd Webber), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (Dempsey/Rowe), PETER PAN – A MUSI... (read more about this author)

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