Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
A tale of self-discovery
by Mina Frannea
As we walked in to the lobby of the Dallas Children’s Theater for opening night of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, we saw a crowd gathered around a group of men playing a variety of African drums and a couple of ladies energetically dancing to the primal sounding drum beats. Right away, we knew this was going to be a special night at DCT!
After a while, our kids spied the face painting and coloring stations and off they went.
After getting his face painted, our son (and his Nana!) ended up in a conversation with the show’s composer and lyricist S-Ankh Rasa about the music in the show and the drum he was holding called the Tama. Jonathan was thrilled when Mr. Rasa offered him a chance to try the Tama.
Here he is attempting to play it.
The African Tale
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, directed by Robyn Flatt, is an African story from Zimbabwe, inspired by a folktale, and written by award winning children’s author and illustrator John Steptoe.
Mufaro (Ivan Jones), a dignified and caring villager, has two beautiful daughters, Nyasha whose name means mercy and Manyara, whose name means ashamed. The daughters couldn’t be more different. Nyasha, is kind, empathetic and generous. She tends to her beloved garden and offers a kind word to everyone she encounters, including a garden snake, Nyoka, whom she befriends. As she works in her garden, Nyasha sings a song called My Garden, a light and melodious song that filled me with a sense of pure joy. By far, this was one of my favorite songs in the show!
Manyara (Charli Armstrong), on the other hand, is shallow, selfish and mean spirited, but she pretends to be a sweet and compliant girl in front of her father. Manyara day dreams about becoming the Queen of the region and having servants to cater to her every need.
A messenger arrives in their village to bring word that the Great King is inviting all of the “Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land to appear before him” so that he might choose his Queen.
The villagers vie to have the messenger choose their respective daughters, but only Mufaro’s daughters are selected. Pleased by this turn of events, Mufaro agrees to accompany Nyasha and Manyara on their journey to the golden city (where the King resides) at sunrise. That night, Manyara, ever determined and believing herself better and prettier than her sister, sets out alone so that she can be presented to the King first. The next morning after searching for Manyara in vain, Mufaro and Nyasha set out on their own journey to the golden city.
As they travel through the deep forest, each girl has unusual encounters with enchanted trees and strange beings; we later learn that there is a purpose to each experience the girls go through. These experiences play an important role in which of the girls is ultimately chosen as Queen. Through the characters’ journeys, we learn how important it is to live life fully and treat people the way you want to be treated. And, that beauty is more than just about outward appearances.
The whole cast did a tremendous job in their opening night performances of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. The show is rich in culture and tradition. The primal music will have you moving in your seat and the dancing, outstandingly choreographed by Michelle Nicole Gibson, will make you feel like you want to join in. The show also has a lot of comical scenes that will have you laughing out loud!
After the Show
Our family enjoyed visiting with the cast after the show. Everyone was so gracious about signing autographs and taking pictures. Our twins got a kick out of being interviewed by the DCT Anchorkids, a couple of young ladies who did a wonderful job interviewing audience members. If you take a close look at this video, you’ll see Jonathan and Jenna waving. You can also get a taste of the rich music and fabulous dancing in the show.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a heart warming tale that will energize you with its pounding African drums and it’s earthy and liberating dance moves. Audiences of all ages will enjoy this show! Total performance time for this production is an hour. There is no intermission so plan ahead for any breaks that little ones might need.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is playing at the Dallas Children’s Theater through July 15, 2012. This is the last stop in the production’s national tour so don’t miss it! To view show times and to purchase tickets, call their box office at 214-740-0051 or visit their website at www.dct.org.
New Season and Costume Design Contest
Here’s a peak at the lineup of DCT’s 2012-2013 season which includes Pinkalicious The Musical. There’s currently a costume design contest for kids for this show and you can find the details here on my blog, TheMomsJournal.com.
Mina Frannea is a freelance writer and a social media consultant. A Mom to eight-year-old twins, Mina enjoys writing about life in general, family friendly activities around town, favorite recipes and crafts that keep her children busy and happy. For more posts by Mina, visit her blog at www.themomsjournal.com.
Disclosure: Dallas Children’s Theater invited my family to this performance of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. The above represents my personal opinion of this production.
Images #5-7 courtesy of Karen Almond Photography; video courtesy of Dallas Children’s Theater