Sean Bryan – Julie’s Greenroom premiered recently on Netflix around the world, and ever since first hearing about the planned show I’ve been excited to see it. It promised to combine a few of my favourite things, theatre, puppets and Julie Andrews (though…sadly no schnitzel with noodles…at least not in the first episode), which in my eyes was a winning combination.
And although it’s a children’s television show, and I am not a child, it’s perfectly reasonable and justifiable for my fiancée Hollie and I to watch it because… We make theatre for children?!
The show opens with Julie Andrews arriving at her (overly CGI) theatre, built by her father (a whiz at CGI apparently.) The venue is a local community arts centre, the likes of which you may find in your own hometown. Each year Julie runs the Green Room program to get local children involved with the theatre, they’ll get to learn the ropes, and put on a show, with (seemingly the only venue tech) Gus and JULIE ANDREWS,
By this point Hollie is already on the verge of tears, partially because the smattering of Broadway musical posters on the walls of the ‘Green Room’, and partially because Julie Andrews is on our TV.
Soon we are introduced to the cast of puppet characters who will our resident ‘Greenies’ this year. The cast is diverse, with great representations for both ethnicity and disabilities, and not everyone wants to be on stage! For Hollie and I this was significant (cue another set of tears as Riley gets her own stage manager tool belt) as there are so many roles in the world of theatre, and it’s nice to see a show willing to devote time not only to the profession of acting, but also to the fantastic world of technical theatre. Familiar Muppet performers take on the roles, with John Tartaglia’s Hank being a favourite. There may even be a budding Lin Manuel Miranda in Frankie Cordero’s rhyming character Spike, whilst Stephanie D’Abruzzo accurately portrays the grating, musical theatre obsessed, Peri, who is all too familiar to anyone who has worked with drama students.
In episode one we get to go on a tour of the theatre, first we learn about the Green Room (“All theatre’s have one” says Julie to which Hollie and I began to disagree with, before promptly realising disagreeing with Julie Andrews is a punishable offence.) Then we make it onto the stage itself and learn a little about lighting, before a burst water pipe begins to cause all sorts of trouble for the upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz.
The kids don’t have to worry about burst pipes too much though because special guest Idina Menzel is here with a spoonful of sugar! (Cue more excitement and borderline tears from Hollie) We learn a little about Greenie Alumni Idina through a montage of her career, which spans Wicked Witches and Snow Queens, before she invites all the children on a tour of the Gershwin theatre in New York, home of the musical Wicked.
This section was possibly my favourite of the whole show as it took viewers out of the faux-CGI theatre and into a real working theatre. We get to go on a behind the scenes tour of the hit musical, which includes some of the iconic props and costumes from the production, and goes to show viewers that there’s a lot more than meets the eye to putting on a musical.
Upon returning to the theatre Idina can’t help but sing a song (Hollie still managing to find a few tears left), which is a good distraction because it appears to be pretty bad news in regards to the flood in the basement, the musical is going to have to be cancelled. That is until the children come up with a plan to save the day!
I can’t wait to watch how this series develops, it’s fantastic to see a program that introduces the various roles and jobs within the world of the theatre, and goes to show children watching that there’s really something for everyone, no matter what skills you have. Add to that fantastic guest stars, a little song and dance, plus a host of adorable puppets and you’ve got a pretty solid combination for a show. Plus, did I mention Julie Andrews!?
Oh wouldn’t it be loverly if this just turned into a great big hit!
Upon completion of the series Sean will return to present a summary of his thoughts on the show (and perhaps a statistical infographic on how often Hollie cried throughout the season.)