Musical plays to sing about
What do primary schools need from a new musical play? I am sure that most teachers would look for a lively script, songs with catchy tunes and a tape of a complete performance, as well as a second track containing the accompaniment alone. They might also wish for a piece which would accommodate a cast ranging from 20 to 200, provide costumes and sets and send parents and pupils away happy at the end of the summer term, humming a few memorable tunes. If this is you, then look no further than The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Margaret Carpenter. For children in Years 4 to 6 it has all these ingredients and a few more besides.
From beginning to end, this work is approachable. The melodies are simply constructed within a sensible range for the young voice. The part writing adds sophistication but uses individual melodies which weave together and are easily learned. Two of the songs in particular, "The Pied Piper's Song" and "A Hundred Silver Pieces", capture the atmosphere of musicals such as Les Miserables and are sure to be hits with children.
Daniel in the Lion's Den, written for a wider age range (Years 5 to 9), contains some less inspiring numbers but it is redeemed by last three songs, in particular the blues-based "Did the Lions Take a Bite?" which is given a splendid, driving accompaniment on the tape. And once again the play is well written.
Above all, both these titles are conceived by someone who understands the capabilities and interests of her performers and because of this they will work. The presentation of the booklets is basic but practical; the tapes are well recorded and convey the spontaneous enjoyment of the children singing. The prices are reasonable to suit limited budgets.