Who gets to write YOUR life story? The talented teens of Cry Havoc have a lot to say about that (and more!) in this fantastical, dance-filled show for families and kids.
Cry Havoc Theater’s clever and creative teenage actors have a different show—and a winning one—in The Forever Quest, playing at the South Dallas Cultural Center through January 15. The company made its name with “verbatim” shows about social issues, devising scripts pulled from in-depth interviews with people of all ages on the front lines of the world’s troubles.
Quest is a different story, literally—a fantasy adventure rooted in everyday life of its Hero (Tremaine Jones), a boy who needs to know where he belongs, where he’s going, and who might be the friends he needs. Unlike Cry Havoc’s adult productions, this is a story aimed at families. Most pointedly at elementary and middle school kids who enjoy fantasy, especially if it tells them something about the real world they deal with each day.
There’s no doubt about it: the best way to see this show is with a child or two, even if you need to borrow them from friends. If you can’t find a kid, go anyway—just try to see and hear it through the eyes of the younger “you.”
For one thing, kids get the best seats in the house with padded floor cushions plopped along the front edge of the stage space. To nobody’s surprise— the kids down in the front are drawn into the show.—answering questions from the actors, cheering on our Hero, and best of all, dancing—dancing like nobody’s looking, any style you like, and paired up with some of the cast’s great movers and shakers (with a big thumbs-up for Quintin Jones’ lively choreography).
I can’t think of a better way to grow future theater peeps (actors or audience)!
The charismatic student cast of six—Ryann Beckham, Lizzy Bolen, Beatrice Bond, Phoenix Clasby, Tremaine Jones, and Madison Kelly—are all from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual arts, Coppell High, and Townview Magnet Center. They’re only about a half-hour away from the dreams and feelings of slightly younger kids, and it shows both in the honesty of their portrayals and in the script they “devised” together with director Ashley H. White.
It’s the morning of Hero’s 10th birthday, and he’s headed for the school bus with a fancy light-up watch and copy of the comic book he and his Mom have made—it’s called The Forever Quest. On the bus, some classic “mean girl” classmates make fun of his watch (he’s copying their style!), and a “who cares” bus driver doesn’t help. At least his teacher seemed excited about Hero’s class presentation, a talk about his homemade comic book. (The cast up-to-the-minute costuming is from Jessie Wallace, with Hero’s light-catching white accents keeping him at the visual center of all.)
But wait! In the middle of Hero’s talk, things go suddenly sideways and Oz-like. The world freezes, the classroom disassembles, and with plenty of light, sound, and movement, we’re in another place, a fantasy world where Hero seeks three tokens—for Bravery, Trust, and Loyalty—that will help him learn who he truly is, and what he can be.
Donna Marquet’s nimble set makes more of less in creating this new world: long mysterious draperies climb to the sky, movable cubes (love the notebook paper theme!) become pedestals, fountains, bridges, and more. Joshua Henley’s lights provide action and suspense. Marco Salinas’ lively music choices, from hip-hop to gamelan, provide an emotion-catching soundtrack for the characters, plus plenty of openings for dance battles and audience participation.
We’ll leave the plot to take care of itself. By the end, our Hero (who was always pretty okay about being “different”) has learned more about himself—by being brave, loyal, and trustworthy. He’s met some crazy characters and found unexpected friends among the classmates who once called him a “Zero.”
Is there a central idea to this fun and frolic? Look to the title— Hero has learned that his quest and ours will go on forever. And he understands now that he doesn’t have to wait for life to happen to him; he is—and will be—the “creator” of his own life story.
And if there’s a little dancing along the way—why not?
WHERE: South Dallas Cultural Center | 3400 Fitzhugh Ave., Dallas
WHEN: Through Saturday, January 15
WEBSITE: LEARN MORE