The Musician. A horror opera for children written and composed by Conor Mitchell. Belfast Children’s Festival – March 2021. 4****. William Russell.

Everyone knows the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin who takes a cruel revenge but why did he become the such a dangerous fellow? This is revealed in The Musician. An orphan boy living in a hole in the ground and begging on the streets with only a mouse for company is befriended by an itinerant musician, and tormented by an evil little girl who demands to be the centre of attention at all times. She tries to destroy him after he learns from the Musician how to play the flute and becomes accepted by the townspeople who had previously ignored him thus depriving her of the public adoration she demands.
It is imaginatively staged and very well performed. Sarah Richmond, a compelling Boy, conveys his outcast status perfectly, Rebecca Murphy could hardly be nastier as the Vile Little Girl and Paul Carey Jones creates a Merlin like figure as the Musician. What we get is a battle of egos, one fully developed – the Girl, and one which grows into something not quite as expected as the story unfolds – the Boy. He stops being the victim and turns into the predator. The piper in the end has to be paid for playing his tune.
The mixture of thrills and chills should keep children at which it is aimed entranced. Conor Mitchell, who directs and conducts his own score and libretto in this updated version, has come up with a fascinating piece of music theatre. It was originally presented as a chamber version in 2008 and this revised version narrated by Matthew Cavan created in 2019 was filmed at this year’s Belfast Children’s Festival.
The Musician: Paul Carey Jones.
The Traveller: Matthew Cavan.
The Vile Little Girl: Rebecca Murphy.
The Boy: Sarah Richmond.
The Mouse: Maeve McGreevy.

Director & Designer: Connor Mitchell.
Conductor: Tom Brady.
Lighting: Mary Tumelty.
Projections: Gavin Peden.
Costumes: Laura Firby.
Choreography: Jennifer Rooney.

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