GO INSIDE THE BELLY OF A WHALE!
Join Jonah inside the belly of the whale as Rainbow Puppet Productions presents a new musical production of "Jonah."
The story is based on the traditional Old Testament tale of Jonah. Instead reaching out to others, Jonah tries to defy God by taking a ship to the far corner of the earth. Jonah's plan is thwarted when he ends up overboard and soon finds himself inside the belly of the whale.
In addition to diverse styles of puppets, the musical score draws from various song forms. "Jonah was probably the most charismatic character of his day... really able to move a crowd," says the show author David Messick. "His opening number has the feel of a Ricky Martin musical number with dancing and a wide array of colorful puppets."
Other musical styles include a number performed by fish inside the whale's stomach. "Since Jonah is trying to runaway from his responsibilities, I thought of the old Del Shannon song 'Runaway' and created a song with that 1960's pop feel."
"This is one of the most elaborate productions we have ever created," says writer and director David Messick. "The puppets are on a ship in the midst of a terrible storm, Jonah is grabbed into the sea and swallowed by a whale puppet that's almost six feet tall. Later, through black light puppetry, we join Jonah inside the belly of the whale."
"We have tried to incorporate multiple puppet styles into this presentation. There are standard wide-mouth people puppets, a parade puppet that rises ten feet into the air, and numerous sea creatures presented with rod puppets and hand puppets."
"Jonah" premiered to a standing ovation at the Virginia Festival of Puppet Ministry and Creative Arts in August. "This was despite, or perhaps because of a technical glitch that brought the gates of Ninevah crashing to the ground in the middle of the show," said set designer Jason Wiedel.
Newport News artist Laura Huff created principal puppets, including the giant whale. She previously crafted giant dinosaurs for Rainbow's "Really Big Dinosaur Show." Other puppets and props are by Joyce Timberlake, Fiona Andrews, Christine Frank, Kathie Davis, and Jill Harrington. The original songs were arranged and recorded by Steve Scheffler. Scheffler also created many of the vocal characterizations heard in the program.
Wiedel provides the voice for Jonah. Other vocal performances are by Tim Tharrington; Frank Mailander; Chris and Don Bartlett; Lisa, Rich, and Tyler Ryan; Fiona, Gillian and Sarah Andrews. Newcomer to Rainbow, Beverley Slayton, provides his rich bass voice as God.
Rainbow Puppeteers include Kathie Davis, David and Marcy Messick, David Messick, Sr., Judy Silvis, Jason Wiedel, and Mel T. Brooks.
The people at Rainbow Productions began producing shows for local libraries in 1977. Since that time, the company has grown to one of the leading providers of arts-in-education in the state of Virginia. The company now tours nationally, having recently presented at the Puppeteers of America's national convention in Tampa and at the Fellowship of Christian Puppeteers national convention outside of Chicago.