Moana splashes ashore in Steinbach


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The blue waters and white sand beaches of Polynesia are coming to Steinbach this weekend.

Fusion Musical Theatre will present three sold-out performances of Moana on Saturday and Sunday at the SRSS Theatre as part of the Steinbach Arts Council’s 2022-23 season.

“We’ve never seen such an interest in the (Fusion) program and for these performances,” director Gabriela Gallo said. “The COVID funk is over and everybody is very excited that we’re back to having these big performances.”

Based on the 2016 Disney computer-animated movie of the same name, Moana follows last year’s production of The Little Mermaid.

Lexie Ontong (Moana) and Liam Driedger (Maui) lead a cast of 63 children between the ages of eight and 14 who have been rehearsing since September.

“I don’t think Steinbach’s ever seen a production this big,” Gallo said. “We’re glad that we can have such full and lively audiences to share what we’ve made.”

Set in ancient Polynesia, Moana tells the story of an adventurous teenager who embarks on a quest to save her people. Gallo chose Moana after seeing Steinbach’s own Island Breeze perform at Summer in the City.

“I love that music, I love the beat, I love vocally where singers have to place their intonations,” Gallo said. “I just thought it was the right show for the group of kids that I had coming in. I knew I wanted to do something big and Moana is such a big show.”

She collaborated with Island Breeze on the show’s choreography, costumes, and props.

The musical includes all the familiar songs from the film, including the uplifting “How Far I’ll Go” and the humorous “Shiny,” plus several numbers that aren’t in the movie.

“There’s a few numbers in this musical particularly that I cry every time I watch them,” Gallo said. “I tear up because there’s just nothing like children singing together with confidence. It’s a very magical thing for me.”

Gallo said the production’s themes—the importance of knowing your roots and staying true to yourself—will resonate with audiences and performers alike.

“There’s just a big connection with ancestors and learning about your history and who you are and where you came from that I just really, really thought was a beautiful message to give to these kids,” she said.

The brisk ticket sales suggest musical theatre has caught on in Steinbach. The Fusion program now has a wait list. Gallo said musical theatre is a great confidence-builder that combines music, drama, and movement into one artform.

“Especially the middle years, Grade 6, 7, and 8, it’s just such an important age,” Gallo said.

“When kids are able to explore different activities at that age, and they find something they are passionate about, it will carry them through their high school and through their university years, and give them confidence, not just in that area but in all areas of their life.”

Seeing those skills develop in real time is what keeps Gallo, an award-winning music educator and choral specialist, excited about musical theatre too.

“I love to watch these children just bloom right before my eyes. It’s truly magical. I just watch their confidence grow.”

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