The world of children’s entertainment has changed rapidly in recent years. Live acts performed by talented professionals have gone by the wayside in favor of brightly colored, anthropomorphic cartoon animals.
The world of children’s entertainment has changed rapidly in recent years. Live acts performed by talented professionals have gone by the wayside in favor of brightly colored, anthropomorphic cartoon animals. Such programs are now also available at any time. Children can watch their favorite shows and movies from little TV screens embedded in seat backs of their parents’ SUVs. Progress can be a good thing, but sometimes it can also be good to just get back to basics. This spring, Portland Taiko is starting their season with a show designed specifically for families who want to do just that. It’s called “Ponta & the Big Drum,” and it’s sure to delight and entertain children and adults alike.
“Ponta & the Big Drum” tells the tale of a group of tanuki performers preparing for their town’s big festival, called Matsuri. Tanuki are the adorable raccoon-dog characters from Japanese folklore. They’re known to be tricksters who love to get into all kinds of mischief. But one tanuki in particular, Ponta, causes all sorts of trouble for his fellow performers by not following directions. Artistic Director Michelle Fujii said, “Whatever you say, Ponta does the opposite.” His fellow performers still have to put together their show for the Matsuri, but with all of Ponta’s games, will they be able to finish the show in time? You’ll have to go see the show to find out.
“Ponta” is the first show in Portland Taiko’s new “U-pick” campaign series. This year, the audience gets a chance to interact and shape Portland Taiko’s season concert finale by voting for their favorite works. Performed by the entire Taiko ensemble, “Ponta” is a mix of dance and music.
Along with a little interactive education. According to Producing Director Teresa Enrico, “‘Ponta & the Big Drum’ is an engaging story for the whole family to enjoy together. We want to entertain and educate with the story of Ponta and his tanuki friends.” Fujii also said, “The lesson of this new tale is that if you cooperate and work together, great things can happen.”
It’s hard to argue against a show that teaches all that through the traditional Japanese art of ensemble drumming.
The award-winning Asian-American drum-ensemble Portland Taiko has been entertaining local audiences for 17 years. They use long-honored Japanese traditions, along with rhythm, melody, movement and humor, to create beautiful masterpieces that excite and enrich the lives of over 70,000 audience members per year. Taiko, which is actually the Japanese word for drum, has been practiced in Japan since ancient times. It was first used in theater, community festivals and religious ceremonies, as well as a means to establish the boundaries of a village—since the boundaries were determined by how far the community Taiko could be heard.
American Taiko as it is known today originally began in the late 1960s as a symbol of voice during the fight for rectifying the Japanese American Internment during World War II. Portland Taiko has kept these roots in mind, and continually works to inspire audiences, build community, affirm Asian pride and educate about the Japanese culture and community. They’ve released two CDs in the past few years and continue to perform in schools, festivals, theaters, colleges and fairs every year.
“Ponta & the Big Drum” will be performed at the Brunish Hall at the Portland Center for Performing Arts on Southwest Broadway. Tickets are $18.25 for adults and $12.25 for students, children and seniors. There will be an 11 a.m. performance on Saturday and performances at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday. There’s nothing quite like the light in a child’s eye when they experience a live performance of an entertaining show. Times may have changed, but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for artistry of traditional performances. Just try fitting all that into those little television screens. ?