The magnificent Belfast Children’s Festival returns this March (10-15) and one of the must-see shows (among many) just has to be Cahoots NI’s Nivelli’s War...
Just as the curtain goes up, Ni4kids editor Nadia Duncan has a quick catch-up chat with director Paul Bosco McEneaney about making it from Belfast to Broadway…
It’s final rehearsal day for one of the most-anticipated theatre shows of the 2017 Belfast Children’s Festival, however director Paul still makes time to share his excitement with me at the prospect of bringing Charles Way’s spellbinding family drama to the Lyric Theatre stage. Cahoots NI have built up a huge (well-deserved) local fanbase with younger audiences thanks to their truly unique blend of theatre, magic, illusion and original music and Nevilli’s War promises to deliver even more praise and admiration from families, both in NI and in New York when the show makes its debut in the New Victory Theatre on Broadway this spring.
Paul explains: ‘For me theatre is all about telling a story which needs to be told. When I stumbled across the tale of Herbert Levin, a German-Jewish magician who was sent to a concentration camp during WW2, I knew immediately that this was such a story and, in 2012, commissioned the writer, Charles Way to produce a stage version. The result was Nevilli’s War and although it’s set in history, I think that it’s a very poignant tale for right now, considering what’s happening in the world with so many young refugees, it really resonates with today’s audiences.
‘Creating empathy with a character is what theatre does best, and it’s one of the most satisfying results for us to see how a young audience put themselves in the shoes of our characters; how that makes them feel and the questions it raises.’ But what, I ask, makes this theatre show the rabbit out of the hat when it comes to keeping kids entertained? Paul replies, ‘My background is in magic and theatre which is an odd mixture, but it’s what makes our unique DNA – blend those two things together and you get a Cahoots production.’
Nivelli’s War is on stage at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast until March 19. Contact the Lyric Theatre Box Office on Tel: 028 9038 1081 for prices or to book.
In the final days of World War II, Ernst – a young evacuee from Frankfurt – finds himself all alone and far away from home, when he meets and befriends the mysterious Mr. H, a stranger with a trick or two up his sleeve. Together, they set off to return Ernst to his family, down a road fraught with danger, hunger and uncertainty. As they continue their perilous journey through this war-ravaged land, Ernst finds that magic, friendship and hope still exist in the world. A story of an incredible journey and an unlikely friendship that will transform the life of its young hero forever.
Many of our best-loved stories are based upon unlikely friendships in the face of adversity and Nevilli’s War is such a tale.
Bob Kelly (Mr H) and Jack Archer (Ernst) are outstanding in their roles as the war-torn duo, both searching for safety, afraid and alone, until fate throws them together. As they embark on a dangerous journey to deliver six-year-old Ernst back into the arms of his mother in Frankfurt, the magical bond they discover along the way demonstrates that even in the most difficult of circumstances, humanity and small blinks of happiness are possible.
Starring Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli and with many laugh-out-loud moments (your child will never forget the important life lesson of the four shrugs), superb visuals and spellbinding performances - along with Cahoots NI’s unique touches of enchantment - Nevilli’s war is a must-see show of the Belfast Children’s Festival.
The 19th Belfast Children’s Festival will light up the city with a colourful array of the very best in local and international art and performance to inspire joy, creativity and curiosity in our capital city. For more shows and event information or to book visit W: youngatart.co.uk/festival or Tel: 028 9024 3042