Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Phoenixville Area High School in Phoenixville, PA
November 20, 2019
Review submitted by Clara Steege of Conestoga High School
Phoenixville Area High School’s family friendly production of Ronia the Robber’s Daughter truly engaged its audience. It actively invited participation by asking audience members to simulate the sounds of rain, but its vivid storytelling ensured that the audience was always fully enveloped in the plot.
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is based on a book by Astrid Lindgren, which was originally published in 1981. After appearing as both a film and musical, it was brought to the stage as a play in 1993. The story follows a young girl, Ronia, in her experience growing up with her father’s clan of thieves. When Ronia meets Birk, the son of a rival robber, she begins to question everything she knows about the life she leads.
In order to better adapt the play for high school theater, the cast and director worked with the playwright to develop additional roles and extra content. Many cast members read the original book for inspiration in character-building. Such dedication culminated in a very successful show.
Ocean Swomley, who played Ronia, skillfully portrayed the emotions of a young kid. With an innocent manner of speaking and constant inquisition, she was able to show her character’s curiosity and naivete. She and Benjamin Pratte (Birk) worked well together and relayed varying emotions, from joy to fear to anger, throughout their scenes. Pratte emanated Birk’s childlike mannerisms through movements like stomping his feet and crossing his arms. He always remained in character, even when the focus wasn’t on him.
Sophie Sullivan, as Lovis, Ronia’s mother, was able to portray sincere emotion. Her body language, such as smoothing Ronia’s hair as she sung a lullaby, communicated the tender love a mother feels for her daughter. She also created depth of character by showing Lovis’s feisty attitude towards Matt. Alongside Sullivan, William Stotler (Matt) used volume and large gestures to expand on his character’s emotional overreactions in a hilarious way. Jack Kramer, as Noddle Pete, was another witty character. Kramer’s excellent comedic timing and attention to detail, such as his bent posture, made his humorous character even funnier.
The addition of music, by Benjamin Pratte, was a key element. With an energetic cast to sing them, his robber songs imbued the play with liveliness. Mikayla DePompeo’s makeup was also impressive; her aging techniques and application of fake tattoos gave the characters even more personality. The lighting, by Zach Rosenfield and Sullivan Nowak, conveyed key elements of the story with flashes for lightning and green light for the transition to night.
Phoenixville’s cast clearly had fun performing. Their excitement and dedication, paired with sound execution of performance elements, allowed them to put forward a well-received show.
Review submitted by Layla Siahatgar of Baldwin School
A fun, exciting adventure with lovable characters (and a few harpies), Phoenixville Area High School’s production of Ronia the Robber’s Daughter was a delight to see.
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is the story of Ronia, a young girl growing up in a clan of robbers in medieval Scandinavia. The story follows Ronia as she goes on various adventures, going into the forest, meeting creatures, and even making a new friend.
The ensemble had a lively energy throughout the show. Whenever they were on stage, they helped to create a vibrant band of robbers that made the show more realistic.
Ocean Swomley portrayed Ronia, the title character of the show, with a childlike innocence that captured the character nicely. Benjamin Pratte, who played Ronia’s friend Birk, also gave a notable performance, bringing the character to life with his spirited portrayal of the young boy.
Another standout performance was Jack Kramer in his portrayal of Noddle Pete. His spot-on interpretation of the old man, complete with the stereotypical old man voice, had the audience laughing all throughout the show. Morgan Bieler was also noteworthy in her portrayal of Undis, Birk’s mother. Although her stage time was limited, she delivered a compelling performance as a bold but concerned mother.
The stage crew of the show did an excellent job under the management of Lexi Vazquez, creating seamless transitions between scenes. The lighting, done by Zachary Rosenfeld and Sullivan Nowak, helped to set the scene for the show, and it was accomplished with few to no errors. Although the actors were a little dimly lit at times, the use of lighting for special effects, especially the lightning, was engaging and fun to watch.
Phoenixville’s performance of Ronia the Robber’s Daughter was a fun and energetic experience that gave the audience a night to remember.