Fringe Encore Series Review: ‘Opera Mouse’ at SoHo Playhouse in NYC

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An engaging storyteller, a gifted soprano, and a natural with children, Melanie Gall brings her warmth, talent, and stage presence to the Fringe Encore Series in Opera Mouse, a delightful solo show that she wrote and performs. Directed with vitality and enthusiasm by Erik deWaal, Gall employs adorable hand puppets, classic arias, and audience participation to tell the original tale of Tilly, a determined mouse who lives under an opera house and dreams of becoming a singer, after she overhears a performance for the first time. A hit in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, it’s a heart-warming smile-inducing treat for kids and adults alike.

Tilly and Melanie Gall. Photo courtesy of Opera Mouse.
Tilly and Melanie Gall. Photo courtesy of Opera Mouse.

Speaking directly to the audience as a real-life opera singer, Gall interweaves her story with skillful puppetry, changing her voice for each of the characters (Tilly, her brother Tommy, and a diva ostrich), capturing their moves, shaking their bodies, and opening their mouths wide as they vocalize (the singer/puppeteer performs beautiful renditions of “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” from Bizet’s Carmen), to the recorded music of Bennett Paster. Kids in the audience are also invited up on stage to sing along to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (the melody of which has been attributed to Mozart), with the ostrich giving them lessons on breath and range, and advice to “Put out your arms—or wings; it’s more dramatic!

Along with its undeniable entertainment value, Opera Mouse makes the genre accessible to all ages, and imparts some significant life lessons to young audiences on following your dream (even if everyone else discourages you–or screams “Eeeek, a mouse” upon seeing you!), on the truism that practice makes perfect (Tilly’s initial attempts at singing are, well, a bit mousy, but she improves through her dedication to rehearsing), and on the importance of giving and accepting help to achieve your goals (as the three puppets find out when they need each other the most).

At about a half-hour running time, Opera Mouse is a great length for a child’s attention span. It’s quick, cute, and to the point, as it entertains and educates. Even if you’re not a kid, this show is a real charmer.

Running Time: Approximately 35 minutes, with no intermission.

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Opera Mouse plays through Sunday, October 10, 2016, performing at SoHo Playhouse – 15 Vandam Street, in NYC. For tickets, purchase them online.