Noye's Fludde (old English spelling), written by British composer Benjamin Britten, is based on the medieval miracle plays performed in Chester, England in the 16th century. It was originally staged by a boys' school in England in the late 1950s.
This production is set for May 30 at Calvary Temple, 400 Hargrave St., with daytime shows for schools and a 7 p.m. performance open to the public.
"This will be a unique event," says Helen LaRue, a member of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra's board of directors. "It's a collaboration of adults and students who all come together. I am thrilled to see our musicians working with students."
The show is under an hour and perfect for the whole family, says LaRue.
"There is lots of excitement. The ark is built, there are many animals, the storm happens, there's singing and music. It's fun to watch."
Ruth Wiwchar, artistic director of the Pembina Trails Voices, is also excited about her members from grades 5 to 12 from three ensembles who will be taking part in the show.
Pembina Trails Voices is the Pembina Trails School Division's honour choir. It was formerly the Assiniboine South Youth Choir, before the Assiniboine South and Fort Garry school divisions amalgamated to become Pembina Trails. The Voices consists of the Chorale (grades 5 to 8), Men of Note (grades 8 to 12), and Cantemus (grades 9 to 12 girls). Wiwchar conducts Catemus.
Although the choir has worked with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir in the past, this is their first show with the chamber orchestra.
"The kids were in awe after the first rehearsal," says Wiwchar. "It was very exciting."
She adds that this family show will be sure to delight classical musicians, classical music fans, and the children in all of us.
"There is such energy in the music, the voices, the light and visuals. It's a world class event and a great opportunity for the kids."
Others involved in the show include Silver Heights Collegiate band students, members of the Manitoba Youth Orchestra, recorder and hand bell players (musical specialists from school divisions), and Brian Wehrle as Noah, Donnalynn Grills as Mrs. Noah and Leslie Hughes as the voice of God.
Edward Ledson is directing the show and designing the set and the many animal masks required for the show. Ledson is building an ark, much like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that can be easily assembled during the show.
The masks presented a special challenge, because they had to be recognizably distinct animals without restricting the performers' ability to sing. So Ledson created them on baseball caps with adjustable straps and a collar around the neck. He used canvas, foam and fake fur in many colours to create animals including zebras, raccoons, elephants, donkeys, bears, wolves, cats, mice, deer and a variety of birds.
"It was fun but it was tricky," says Ledson. "We were only doing the upper part of the animal. We could not do that for animals who are defined by their whole bodies, like camels for example. They have a tiny head, a long neck and a big hump. But we have an amazing representation."
Ledson says the show offers "an interesting piece of music, storms, lightening, old hymns, some old English, and it's kind of neat and a nice experience for kids to see and hear."
Ledson, who has worked on stage and behind the scenes in local theatre for a number of years, both acting and designing sets and costumes, says he loves to see a show like this come together.
"This one has been a large undertaking," says Ledson. "When you have a concept, and you see it all come together, all the pieces, and you get the best out of participating performers by highlighting their individual talents, it works."
For tickets to Noye's Fludde, call the MCO office at 783-7377.