by J*Company

Photo by Daniel BairdThe legend of Pocahontas began in Virginia during the early seventeenth century. Her efforts in uniting the Algonquin Indians and Jamestown settlers left an indelible mark upon American history. The production of Pocahontas at the J*Company Youth Theater was not the popular Disney version that so many of us are familiar with. This production put much emphasis on the historical significance of Pocahontas’ legend and told a slightly different story than we are accustomed to. Cast members had to be well educated in the cultural aspects of the Native Americans during that time period in order to give an authentic performance of this show.

The story begins as the peaceful trio of Wordspinners and the numerous creatures of the forest tell of the legend of Pocahontas in order for her legacy to live on forever. The opening scene takes place when the villagers of the Algonquin Tribe search for “she who likes to be mischievous,” a.k.a. Pocahontas. Pocahontas (Kimberly Marron) plays tricks and games on her fellow tribe members (including throwing the occasional flying salamander) and is mocked as well as ridiculed because she is able to talk to spirits and animals. Marron is a confident young performer who’s singing and dancing created an authentic emulation of the character Pocahontas. Her father, Chief Powhatan (Scott Peterson), commands her not to visit the settlers of Jamestown, although Pocahontas deliberately disobeys her father orders.

Much conflict arises between the settlers of Jamestown and the Algonquin Indians as they have No Common Ground.  Pocahontas is torn by her innate connection to her tribe and her compassion for the suffering English settlers. The Spirit of Mother Earth (Gabriela Lipson) instructs Pocahontas that Your Heart Always Knows. This appealing ballad is sung beautifully, without any melodic errors or vocal weaknesses. More impressively, Lipson added simultaneous sign language, which created a beautiful multi-sensory effect.

With the help of John Smith (Joshua Shtein), Pocahontas eventually unites the two groups together in peace and harmony in the Virginian land. Shtein captures the essence of his character well and executes his English accent impeccably.

The ensemble was well highlighted during the musical with entertaining dance numbers as well as melodious musical numbers. The choreography (Alyssa Schechter) was appropriate for the abilities of the performers, but was also clean, creative and full of spirit, albeit a little too modern for the early 1600’s.

The aesthetic features of this musical stood out tremendously with the elaborate sets of Syd Stevens and the superb lighting of Andrew Miller. Both elements nicely highlighted the performers and enhanced the musical.

With the growing awareness of environmentally safe measures and the ecological precautions being taken due to the increasing risk of global warming, J*Company Youth Theatre has themed their season “Reuse-Recycle-Revive!” Director Joey Landwehr and cast took the “20-Gallon Challenge” in order to conserve water in the San Diego area. Their efforts to conserve water resulted in the saving of thousands of gallons of water.  Members of the audience were encouraged to take the challenge as well.

Performed September 18-28, 2008

Ashley Twomey
National Youth Theatre

Photo by Daniel Baird

~ Cast ~

Wordspinner 1: Lindsey Grant
Wordspinner 2: Devyn Krevat
Wordspinner 3: Erica Malachowski
Little Running Rabbit: Morgan Hubers
Happy-She-Walks: Hailey Mashburn
Brave Eagle: Cameron Chang
Aunt Morning Star: Maddie Houts
Pocahontas: Kimberly Marron
Chief Powhatan: Scott Peterson
Thundercloud: Kaydon Schanberger
Esther Finley: Geneva Kotler
Squirrel Twin 1: Annie Charlat
Squirrel Twin 2: Erin Love
Wolf: Danya Greenberg
Raven: Brooke Posnock
Margaret Wheeler: Hannah Houts
Barbara Matthews: Celia Tedde
Carolina Matthews: Elisa Greenberg
Jeremy Finley: Nathan Miller
Mercy Rogers: Michelle Guefen
Charity Matthews: Mackenzie Bath
Thomas Rogers: Johnny Evans
Captain John Smith: Joshua Shtein
The Spirit of Mother Earth: Gabriela Lipson
Spirit of Mother Earth’s Sidekick: Eitan Acks

Director: Joey Landwehr
Musical Director:
Bruce Worthy
Set Designer:
Syd Stevens
Lighting Designer:
Andrew Miller
Costume Designer:
Lisa Forrest
Sound Designer:
Jon Morales

Stage Manager: Veronica Jensen Chavez


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