Pinwheel Productions is described as a ‘work-in-progress venture into theatrical producing’, with Alex Giles and Kaleigh Wilkie-Smith at its helm. It was two years ago when the idea was conceived for their production The Tale of Ichabod Scrubb, a musical piece that’s just completed a run at Kings Cross’ Blood Moon Theatre.
At its core, The Tale of Ichabod Scrubb is a story for children about a boy (Doron Chester) who loses his sister, Persephone (Annabelle Rosewarne), and embarks on a quest to find her. In doing so, Ichabod has to face his greatest fear – water. Along the way, he encounters a colourful collection of characters, including a senile knight (Richard Woodhouse). Ultimately, not only is Ichabod’s journey a search for Persephone, but also a search for the courage he lacks.
While it’s a story for children, in this limited season at World Bar’s Blood Moon Theatre in Sydney’s Kings Cross, The Tale of Ichabod Scrubb is a chance for adult theatregoers to relax, shake off their cares and enjoy an evening of light-hearted entertainment. It’s a piece that ultimately should successfully engage younger audiences. It features a cast of highly talented performers, committed whole-heartedly to the piece.
Producers Giles and Wilkie-Smith have their moments to shine as cast members on stage, and they’re joined by five additional actors, each of whom proves to be ideally suited to the genre. In the title role, Chester is appropriately awkward and successfully endears himself to the audience from the outset; Rosewarne is sweet but effectively conveys she possesses the courage of which her brother is devoid; Stephanie Priest, appearing in the role of a duchess adorned in Norse garb, is as brash and boisterous as she should be; Woodhouse is wonderful as the doddering knight; and Emily Pollard rounds out this cast of high calibre performers.
Each of the performers is wonderful both in dialogue and song. There’s some wonderful harmonisation throughout and Giles himself provides musical accompaniment on guitar. The score includes tracks that will leave the venue with you – ‘Duchess of the Duchess’ in particular has an earworm chorus (Giles and Wilkie-Smith are also behind the score, with musical arrangements by director Christie Koppe).
One aspect of the show so far not discussed is the fact that The Tale of Ichabod Scrubb is actually a show within a show; the performers initially arrive on stage in the guise of cleaners who resolve to stage a play, and some audience participation is elicited. Perhaps there’s room for more interaction between the two shows, or further development of ‘the show within a show’ aspect so that its overall impact on the piece is greater.
Overall, The Tale of Ichabod Scrubb should have a bright future as a children’s musical and it will certainly be interesting to follow the next stage of its development. But it’s the talent of those who have created and perform the work that leaves the lasting impression. We have an abundance of talent on and off our stages in Sydney – and we are fortunate to have constant reminders of that fact.