A Review by Maya Barbon, age 13
When I first walked into the PCPA (Portland Center for the Performing Arts) with my mom and my friend Teagan, I was already super excited to see The Storm in the Barn. Just inside the lobby there were all kinds of beautiful pictures on the walls. The ceiling had beautiful stained glass and there was a really cool chair we could sit on. It was fun to look around at all the people, especially the little girls who were all dressed up.
After the doors were open, we made our way into the Winningstad Theatre where we were handed a program with lots of pictures and information in it. There was even a list of discussion questions about the show. The theater itself was amazing in that it seemed to transport us to the period of time of the play. It was a small room with a dusty haze all around. I thought that was a nice touch because the play was about the Dust Bowl. And the balconies looked wooden and red, which matched the play as well.
Right before the show started, it was announced that the playwright, composers and book author were in the audience. I thought that made it really special for both the actors and the audience. Finally, the lights went down and the play began.
The Storm in the Barn focuses on a boy named Jack who is living in the middle of both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Local bullies Frank and Ray tease him, and his father never wants his help. On top of that, his older sister Dorothy has dust pneumonia. But his life’s not all bad. He is friends with Ernie, a store owner who tells him stories about a brave boy named Jack who defeats monsters and saves the world. The stories will make you laugh, as will Ernie’s funny attitude. And cutest of all, Jack’s little sister Mabel loves to walk around spinning her little umbrella and singing, sure to make the entire audience go “Awwww.” As the play goes on, Jack ventures into an abandoned barn where he meets the evil storm king. The king is getting powerful, and it is up to Jack to stop him and save his town.
All of the actors have amazing stage presence and expressions. You saw Jack’s bravery, the evil of the bullies, Ma and Pa’s strength, Ernie’s happiness, Dorothy’s hope and Mabel’s sweetness. But not only were most of them actors, they were also the musicians of the play. And music had a big part in this show. Every instrument was incorporated into the performance. Violins not only made the sound of a moving board, but became part of the action as well. The show may not have been a musical, but the music told most of the story.
The set, lighting and costumes were amazing as well, truly bringing you back to the 1930s. Combined with the music and the wonderful acting, I would happily give this show 5 stars. It was fun and dramatic, great for kids around 11 and up.
And if anything comes out of this play, it’s to appreciate our rain here in Portland!
Maya and her family were given tickets to attend OCT’s opening weekend performance of The Storm in the Barn on behalf of PDX Kids Calendar for review.