It is Midsummer Night and the Hostess with the Mostest, Bumble Bee is welcoming fellow insects to a Minibeasts Midsummer Fiesta in the forest to the strains of Buzzin’ Tonight.
Such is the opening scenario of Minibeast Madness a children’s musical by Debbie Campbell which buzzes about at the Montgomery Theatre on Tuesday when St Wilfrid’s Primary School put it on as part of this year’s Sheffield Children’s Festival which begins on Monday.
“The fact that it’s actually Midsummer’s Night, I hadn’t realised at all,” says Judith Savournin, the show’s producer and a much experienced, successful director of shows involving children.
She started the drama group at St Wilfrid’s about ten years ago but left when she got a full time job. Now they have asked her to come back and do this show.
Debbie Campbell is an acclaimed national writer of youth theatre musicals with 21 to her name, so why this particular one with, among other insect life on stage, Fly, Firefly, Daisy the Tipsy Spider, Mr and Mrs Praying Mantis, snails, crickets and even a Madame Butterfly?
“I’ve done a lot of Debbie Campbell’s shows in the past,” explains Judith, recalling specifically some of the four Christmas ones.
“They have a charm about them that suits the age group I’m working with” – in this case, 10 to 11 year-olds, 38 of them. “It just appeals to them and they love it.
“The story of this one is very simple; it’s about good and evil – the three baddies, Inspector Secticide and the bug squad, Snitch and Swat, who are the only humans and try to exterminate them.
“I did explain to the cast at great length that you mustn’t feel silly when you’re doing these things because, although you are Year 6, it’s funnier the older you are, as long as you believe in the character you are. They’ve grasped it and they’re marvellous.”
Minibeast Madness is one of Campbell’s ten environmental musicals because, she says: “I believe it’s high time we all made a bit of a song and dance about something that affects our children and their future.”
As well as from Buzzin’ Tonight, there are eight other songs and dances in the show, including Dung Beetle Boogie, Snail House Blues, a Caterpillar Lullaby from Madame Butterfly (dreaming of One Fine Day, perhaps!) and a Praying Mantis Prayer – naturally!
lThe show starts at 7.30pm with tickets, £6, £4.50 concessions, available in advance from St Wilfrid’s School, (0114) 236 5529.