Meramec Communty CoOPERAtive's Friday presentation of "On the River's Edge" conveyed a message of symbiosis. But the more than 50 kids who performed in the 11th annual youth opera also delivered something else—pure fun.
“It really is a cooperative effort put together with the kids, starting just a week ago,” said Amy Gage, the author and executive producer of the opera, in a speech before the performance. “Parents, neighbors, volunteers, middle school, high school and college kids all contributed with costumes, props and all the technical aspects.”
Each year, the production raises funds through donations and participation fees for a different charity. This year, the CoOPERAtive raised $1,600 for the Joplin Schools Foundation, which will help children in Joplin, MO, following the devastating tornado there earlier this year.
The opera's storyline revolved around Zulu, a teenage hippopotamus who decides it's just not cool to be a hippo. She sets off through the jungle on the river's edge followed by her friends, three little fishes. Along the way, Zulu encounters animals who give her accessories meant to improve her coolness: a spot tattoo, a snakeskin belt, a goatee and an earring.
But when each animal asks Zulu for a favor, she refuses—definitely not cool.
Eventually, the three little fishes leave Zulu, fed up with her un-symbiotic behavior. But when her fish friends are threatened by sushi-eating crocodiles, Zulu comes to the rescue. She loses her cool accessories during the rescue, but she discovers the true meaning of friendship and symbiosis and, most importantly, realizes it is cool to be a hippo and remain true to herself.
senior Ben Colagiovanni composed the show's music and performed it live. Co-directors, choreographers, a fife player, costumers, stage managers and many others also contributed to the show.
Approximately 200 guests filled the stone steps of the amphitheater and set up lawn chairs around the structure for the early evening entertainment.
In many ways, the evening provided a perfect example of the show's theme: the children of Joplin provided inspiration for the performance, and the show raised funds to help them.
Symbiosis at its finest.