East Carolina University’s Storybook Theatre is performing Lois Lowry’s “Gooney Bird Greene” tonight in Wright Auditorium at 7. This performance is a fun and colorful way to tell the many and “absolutely true stories” of a second-grade child through her own eyes and abstract imagination.
New student to Watertown Elementary Gooney Bird Greene, played by junior Emma Myers, takes Mrs. Pidgeon’s, played by senior Taylor Reed, second grade class by storm as she talks of how she came to Watertown from China on a flying carpet. Of course, nobody believes her, but Gooney Bird is all too ready to prove them wrong, Mrs. Pidgeon included, through her stories, and she absolutely does.
The class of 10 students are all unique in their own way from the sleepy and blunt Malcolm played by freshman Aaron Ford, the shy and timid Felicia Ann played by freshman Tatiana Burrus, and the always excited and dramatic Beanie played by junior Haley Sanders. Each character is played with a unique sense of enthusiasm and a childlike air that lets the actors portray the children as if they truly were in Mrs. Pidgeon’s second grade class.
Throughout the performance, props and stage settings are used in creative and unique ways to show a variety of events from car travels with a surprising “bump” at the end, birds that are namesakes flying around the stage, children blocks that act as desks to the students and just the overall fun environment of the class.
In those transitional scenes, most have fun music that is whimsical and catchy for the younger audiences, and sometimes even involve the audience. There are some intricate dance routines that range from a snazzy waltz to ballet performances in which the entire cast participates. The students and their teacher actually do the trademarked “Floss” from the videogame Fortnight. A farmer in one of Gooney Bird’s stories even plays the saxophone.
The way that the costumes evolve over the course of the performance goes to show just how much of an impact Gooney Bird Greene has on the second grade students of Watertown Elementary School. From Gooney Bird’s own extravagant outfits and quick costume changes, to the subtle changes the other students undergo, it is made clear just how much of an impact one person can have.
All of this comes down to the final moments in which Gooney Bird herself has no more stories left to tell. To the class’s utter dismay, Gooney Bird’s endless stream of stories come to an end, and they are seemingly left with only boring school work to do in class. Gooney Bird, however, isn’t quite done with her classmates.
“Suddenly” there is another story to tell. Gooney Bird sees the dismay in her classmates’ expressions, and encourages each student to tell their own “absolutely true stories” about themselves. The class even begins to set up a schedule for story telling, Mrs. Pidgeon included.
Overall, “Gooney Bird Greene” is an amazingly fantastic children’s story that conveys the importance of telling one’s own story. While being geared towards younger audiences, this performance is an excellent and clever way to get younger children engaged and excited about the art of storytelling in creative and expressive way.
RATING: 4 of 5