It’s a classic Chinese tale told through a modern lens.
Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics and Cirque Theatre Company present Finding Mulan at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Nov. 23-24.
Finding Mulan stays true to its roots with the story of a young heroine who takes her ailing father’s spot in the Chinese military. However, Cirque Theatre Company’s rendition sees the tale from the perspective of Sarah Miller – an indifferent teen obsessed with social media and the inside world.
“One thing I’ve noticed in kids is a lot of them struggle at identifying heroes,” said Camille Martens, a former Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion who sits at the helm of Cirque Theatre Company.
Over the Cirque’s 20 year legacy, Martens has seen a drastic change in children’s’ behaviour, she said.
“(In my generation), we were really clear who they (our heroes) were and why we wanted to be like them,” Martens said. “What I’ve noticed is there’s so much information, it doesn’t attach to them in the same way.”
Charged with the desire to help the younger generation find its idols, Martens said she felt Finding Mulan was the ideal production to hold this year.
“We have a bunch of strong girls here and that this image is so important,” she said.
Written by John McLean, who also takes on the role of Mulan’s father Zhou, Finding Mulan is an adaptation that seeks to appeal to younger generations while staying true to its classic roots.
As Sarah Miller — brought to the Vernon stage by Ashlyn Andreotti — is forced to read about Mulan (Halle Moger), her apathy turns to empathy and she eventually finds herself engrossed in the story. She is eventually sucked in so deep that she feels she has become the titular character.
While Martens said younger generations can be disconnected, she feels that their unfettered access to information and willingness to absorb new information will ultimately lead to them being the ones to save the world from the issues it faces.
“It’s not just a kids’ show. I really believe there is something to relate within the way it can impact all of this,” Martens said. “I think we all are born at the right time for our purpose.”
In addition to the deep meaning wrought throughout the performance, Martens said Finding Mulan blends the worlds of theatre and rhythmic gymnastics beautifully.
Finding Mulan features 75 people on stage ranging in age from five to 75 with three members of the High Performance Canadian team marking the roster.
“The calibre of our performers is outstanding,” Martens said. “It’s totally different from what people expect.”
This production also marks Cirque Theatre Company’s 20 year anniversary.
“It’s just been an amazing thing how it has evolved. It started as just a minor detour from these gymnastics recitals,” Martens said. “It has just morphed into something really cool.”
Finding Mulan runs Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 2:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35.25 adult, $25.25 seniors and youth 18-and-under and $18.25 for children 12-and-under. Family deals are also available through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.