School transforms to rainforest

Longridge Towers' Chapel Theatre was transformed into a vibrant rainforest, full of the colour, sights and sounds as junior pupils performed Rainmaker, a musical by Jan Stroud, inspired by a traditional story of the Tzutujil Maya from Guatemala.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 09:08
Kongan Hab, chief rebel rainmaker, Elijah Shaw Longridge Towers Junior Department stage traditional Guatamalan story 'The Rainmaker'

Children performed over three stages to tell the tale of a beautiful world formed by Viracocha, the Creator, ravaged by drought and destructive storms in equal measure – a world no longer perfect, being riven apart by a few seeking power and control.

A group of children (played by Hannah Forster, Oliver Armstrong, Freya Simpson and Niamh Bankier) embark upon a journey of self discovery to find the Lord of Rain to restore harmony to the world.

Monkeys Iain Haldane, Hunter Murray and Monty Aplin Longridge Towers Junior Department stage traditional Guatamalan story 'The Rainmaker'

Along the way they learn secrets about ‘medicine’ and ‘power’ from the animals of the rainforest.

Chep (Oliver Armstrong), encouraged by creatures such as the Dragonfly (Michelle Wieczorek), Butterfly (Ellenor Swales), Chameleon (Heidi Bell) and Snake (Melissa Forrest-Smith) discovers his own true colours; and we see him transform from a rather weak, self-doubting figure into a ‘hero’ standing up for what is right and overcoming adversity so that good can triumph.

Strong performances throughout drew the audience into the adventure.

Elijah Shaw played the meglamaniac, evil Kongan Hab, the rebel rainmaker, extremely well ensuring no one was left in any doubt as to who was controlling events.

Butterfly Ellenor Swales Longridge Towers Junior Department stage traditional Guatamalan story 'The Rainmaker'

Ava Nottingham brought calm and dignity to the role of Apu Illapu, the Lord of Rain, whose confidence that good would triumph was evident.

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Alexander McCormick struck an imposing figure as the over-seeing Shamen and Willian Allis demonstrated that air guitar is the only way to go, as the ever-so slightly stressed Thunder God.

Whilst there is a serious underlying message to the show – that we should look after our world – lighter moments were provided by a chorus of Year 4 frogs, a bear (Thomas Burns), whose rumbling stomach consumes his every waking hour and a flock of parrots with attitude.

Rainmakers, forest animals and snakettes offered invaluable support in chorus and cast, fantastic costumes (many made by parents), masks, music, confident solos, choreography and scenery ensured this would be a production to remember.

Monkeys Iain Haldane, Hunter Murray and Monty Aplin Longridge Towers Junior Department stage traditional Guatamalan story 'The Rainmaker'

One of the audience afterwards said: “‘Wow – I just wanted to say again how much we all enjoyed Rainmaker.

“The children are a real credit to you; their performance was outstanding. I loved it.”

Another said: “Spectacular, heartwarming, great fun.”

One of the performers added: “At first I was a little hesitant, but then once I got into the role it was fun, enjoyable and amazing.”

Butterfly Ellenor Swales Longridge Towers Junior Department stage traditional Guatamalan story 'The Rainmaker'