‘Finding Wonder’ in an immersive fairy tale play

"Finding Wonder" writer and director Natasha Rabin shows off the floral set that forms the backdrop for her interactive play performed at the Tournament Valley field on CalArt's campus Saturday morning. October 05, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

By Kimberly Silverio-Bautista

A large flower garden, live musical performance and a fairy tale play was set at the California Institute of the Arts Tournament Valley on a Saturday afternoon. 

The play was an immersive show with three-dimensional props, such as large flowers that popped open, a big spider web attached to a tree and giant painted flower backdrops. 

Fairy tale stories from Hans Christian Anderson, like “Thumbelina,” “The Rose Elf,” “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Tin Soldier and the Ballerina,” were combined to create Finding Wonder, the immersive show, which took place in a Rose Garden. 

“The main characters are trying to find what they think is a man named Wonder,” said Lisha Yakub Sevanian, producer of the play and owner of Calgrove Media. But they realized that Wonder is not a person. It’s a feeling that surrounds them.  

The audience got the opportunity to wander around as each scene took place, allowing them to be up close as cast members did cartwheels, backflips, danced and sang live.

“Combining a lot of art forms all together is pretty fun to be part of,” said Kristen Klehr, a Los Angeles freelance musician who took part in the performance. “Having the audience follow them through the play and other characters, I thought that was really creative.”

Sevanian had a dream about the immersive show and has been wanting to do it for a long time. So far, she said she’s happy with the positive feedback the audience has given her. 

“People are blown away with how we made the set and the characters that we created around them,” Sevanian said.

Celestina Elumelu, a California State University, Northridge, student and audience member, was amazed with the show, which made her realize something — “it shows you a realization that you can be whatever you want to be.”

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