Zoe Tashjian, in the role of Te Fiti, surrounded by the Moana Jr. cast. PHOTOS BY MARTINA PARADISO
Topangaâ€™s next generation of stars shone brightly in a spectacular performance of Moana Jr. at Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS).
Local theater arts organization FOCUSfish produced the dazzling musical, their 15th show at TECS, with many of the audience calling it the best elementary school production they had ever seen.
Kristy Beauvais, the showâ€™s producer, director, and executive director of FOCUSfish, said, â€śJust three days prior to opening night, I thought I was done with directing these school musical. Quite frankly, it looked like a mess and I was panicked.
â€śBut then the costumes came in, the boat started sailing, the theatrical lights came on, and the audience showed up. Children need an audience. All three shows blew me away. Our young actors listened and took every direction to heart. Even though I donâ€™t always know that they are listening, they always do. Bravo, Moana Jr. 2023!â€ť
The show was packed with warmth, humor, and beautiful traditional Polynesian costumes and choreography. Among the stars were Maya Rzhanova in the title role of Moana, Wolf Momoa as the mighty demigod Maui, and Leelah Ball as the ruthless crab Tamatoa.
Maya Rzhanova as Moana and Wolf Momoa as Maui share the stage
Joining the cast were 21 of this yearâ€™s â€śRising Starsâ€ť kids from FOCUSfishâ€™s after school theater program for TK to first graders. This popular program, taught by Meredyth Hunt, introduces children to theater arts through creative play and outdoor activities near Topanga Elementaryâ€™s beautiful gardens and outdoor stage.
â€śPerforming arts are a very important part of our program at TECS,â€ť said Principal Kevin Kassebaum. â€śAnd the spring musical is a major highlight of the year. We are so grateful to the entire team, led by Kristy and supported by many, for making this amazing show. Moana was a unique opportunity for students from TK/K all the way to fifth grade.â€ť