This production is directed by Jeremy James Taylor, founder of the National Youth Music Theatre and is an adaptation by Michael Bogdanov of Henry Longfellows epic poem .
This is a gripping performance from the moment the cast appears, chanting native American songs and dancing down the aisles on to the stage. They all carry long poles, which they use as weapons, to construct wigwams, or to beat out the time on the floor. The stage represents a ring of stone, with a taller stone at the rear centre, where initially the story teller stands, and behind him is a huge moon. The setting somehow has a feel of openness, as of the American plains, while at the same time demonstrating the closeness of native American society.
The story is that of the legendary native American Hiawatha, from his birth and childhood and his marriage to Minihaha, through the coming of the white man to his eventual death. The story is told in words by the story teller, but also in dance and song by the rest of the cast. The songs are original native American songs from various tribes. They have been westernised to some extent so that they can be performed and understood by everyone. The lyrics are largely untranslatable and many of them are chants with no literal meanings at all.
The production is exciting and atmospheric. It brings the story of Hiawatha to life in an extremely enjoyable way. Highly recommended.