'Mulan Jr.' opens Feb. 14
Disney’s “Mulan Jr.,” based on the 1998 Disney film “Mulan” and the story “Fa Mulan” by Robert D. San Souci, will be performed by The Phipps Children’s Theater from Feb. 14 through March 2 at The Phipps Center for the Arts.
The musical is set in ancient China. Defying the village matchmaker, Mulan takes up arms and disguises herself as a man in order to spare her father from having to serve in the army. The Huns have invaded her homeland, and it is up to the misfit Mulan (Kia Feia, Hudson) and her mischievous sidekick, Mushu, to save the Emperor. Disney’s “Mulan Jr.” is a celebration of culture, honor, and the fighting spirit. The score includes favorites such as “Reflection,” “Honor to Us All” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”
The cast features 36 actors from area high schools.
The story includes many humorous characters, such as Mushu, the trouble-making dragon (Emily Gjerde, River Falls); lovable soldiers Yao (Phillipe Thao, Hudson), Ling (Elijah Wood, Houlton), and Qian-Po (Brendan Finn, Woodbury); and the fussy bureaucrat Chi Fu (Jack Clauss, River Falls).
Much of the comedy in the musical centers on the changing perspectives of boys’ and girls’ roles. Mulan pretends to be a young soldier named Ping and learns how to act like a man from Mushu. Gjerde said she loves the irony of being a girl playing a boy dragon who is trying to teach Mulan how to be a girl. Gjerde said it really helped her get into character to have a cool costume and elaborate makeup to look like a dragon.
Feia said at first it was confusing being a girl who is pretending to be a boy who is then teaching the boys how to be girls in disguise. “It was actually difficult at first to go back and forth between being a boy and a girl – it can be pretty hard to keep it straight,” she said, but Feia has risen to the challenge and finds the scene where she teaches the soldiers to be girls “super funny.” She said, “It’s not just what we can do on the stage but also what we can give to the audience that makes the show exciting.”
Director John H. Potter said the imaginative plot, witty dialogue, memorable music, and powerful message should have great appeal for a wide variety of audience members.
Potter, music director Andrew A. Haase, and choreographer Christina Leines previously staged Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” and “Willy Wonka Jr.” for The Phipps Children’s Theater.
Performances will be given from Feb. 14 through March 2 on Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., as well as Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for students age 13 and older as well as seniors, and $15 for children age 12 and younger. The play is recommended for children age 4 and older. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at (715) 386-8409 or online at www.ThePhipps.org.