On April 19th, 2013, I attended Parable Productions’ Once Upon A Forest. I was immediately charmed by the friendly atmosphere and excitement of the children in the audience. As the show began, a beautiful stage setting transported us to a magical forest and a bubbly narrator welcomed us to watch and listen as several stories unfolded onstage. I was especially impressed as a cast ranging in age from tiny tots to full grown adults crowded the stage. The love and teamwork behind the entire production was evident from the very beginning, keeping the energy level incredibly high throughout both acts.
The bulk of the first act focused on the history of storytelling and how it evolved into theater as we know it today. This was done in a very fun way, using lots of vibrant characters and different methods of staging. The historical aspect of the show was a nice touch, as it created a show which educated children about historical issues, while also teaching religious values. At the end of the first act, the concept of telling stories through music was introduced. A series of upbeat musical numbers followed, keeping the young children enthusiastic and entertained.
The second act was a bit heavier and got into the meat of the message, offering up several moral and religious teachings. The use of symbolism throughout was very constructive, as it simplified classic parables and made them relatable to children. This was most beautifully demonstrated in the telling of the king, his gardener, and his jester; who represented the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. While the later portrayal of Jesus’s crucifixion was somewhat somber for a children’s show, it was a touching moment which silenced the audience. Even the youngest of children seemed affected by the scene – a young boy cried out “Jesus is awesome!” behind me as the reenactment of Jesus’s resurrection took place.
The combination of fractured fairy tales, music, humor, history, zany characters, and parables created an incredibly sweet children’s show. After seeing the quality of the production, I was surprised more members of the congregation had not come out to see it. I would definitely recommend that any Christian family looking for an inexpensive night out take their children to this production.