By Melina Chadbourne

Tabitha Esther’s self-written and self-directed original show Seas of Science had a short-lived but memorable run with two productions October 8th and 9th in a warehouse at The Doll Factory on Temple Street in Filipino Town, Los Angeles. Geared towards children, the show is a fun and educational experience teaching children about the science behind growing plants like photosynthesis.

Before taking their seats, audience members were given small cards with pictures and words that illustrate water, soil, or sunshine. The show was entertaining, lively, interactive, and kid friendly. There were puppets, musical numbers, and the cast incorporated the audience by running or dancing through and around the audience or getting children volunteers to come on stage to help explain how plants grow. The water, soil, and sunshine cards were used to get sections of the audience to yell out their card when talking about how a plant needs three essential natural elements to grow.

The show began with Marisol, the young girl played by Renee Parker, who loves to grow plants but is having trouble getting her flower to grow and thrive. Therefore, she goes into a world where the robot Barry (Jennifer Barbee), the hilariously voiced puppet Sergio (Aaron Goddard), Rodger (Teresa Williams), Lily (Emily Goodwin), Sophia (K.T Wiegman) and The Captain (Jeff Miler) explore the seas of science on their ship. Rodger, Lily, and Sophia are all different types of scientists that help Marisol cure her “black thumb” as they call it because she struggles with growing plants. Other characters include the Sunshine (Michael Webb) who comes out to pop a yellow balloon of gold glitter every time his sunshine shines down. Musical numbers by Ben Davila add greatly to the fun of the show. Some of the songs are sung by the puppet Octopus Singer (Doug Tiano), who of course has a microphone and backup singer claim puppets that emerge from the ship porthole windows. Lastly, there are the lady fruit dancers who come out to sing about how fruit is healthy to eat in a musical number (Jodi Feldman, Leandra Amber, Rachel Harrold).

As Marisol and the gang learn about how plants grow and photosynthesize, the ship takes them to Brazil where Marisol finds The Black Thumb, played creatively by the hand of Teresa Williams. The Black Thumb tells Marisol that she can’t have the black thumb because she is the black thumb. So Marisol learns finally what it takes to grow a plant properly and that she isn’t doomed by having the black thumb. The creative makeup work by Zoe Hay, lighting by Gus Helgerson, and sound by Rebecca Pavia all contribute to making the show more fun and engaging for the audience. The costumes and puppets were wonderfully hilarious, original, and I’m sure were a particular favorite part of the show for many children.

Writer and director Tabitha Esther have been living in Los Angeles for ten years after growing up in Tustin, CA, just outside of Orange County. The birth of the idea for this show came from Tabitha feeling that “there is a void of fun programming for children that inspires imagination”. Inspired by programs such as The Muppet Show and Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Tabitha wanted to combine fun with science lessons or as she says, “Tuck [the science] in there so the viewers learn something and remember the lessons because the experience was a happy one.” Her love for science comes from her work as a Geologist. The idea to make Seas of Science came from Tabitha admitting, “I had a really boring job where I would daydream a lot.” After spending time doing miscellaneous writing projects and always having a scientific theme, she began to create the world for Seas of Science. She gets her inspiration from everybody- “friends and strangers alike” she says. “The people involved with these first performances of Seas of Science are amazing. Not only did the cast work hard to learn their roles and perform, but they also helped tremendously during production. Everyone chipped in voluntary time to build the sets, props, and costumes.” Many of the friends who helped Tabitha with the project were former team mates who she played roller derby with in the Los Angeles Derby Dolls league. “Working on this project reminded me of when we were just starting out and building the league.” Tabitha is also very grateful to be the owner of the LA Derby Dolls for providing a space to build the set and perform. Tabitha’s stage manager, Megan “Mad Dog” Graham, who has an extensive theatre background, also helped Tabitha in the production process. “She guided me on how to even run a production. Nothing seemed overwhelming after we secured a space and filled in the cast. Thankfully, I have a lot of good people on my side.”

Both shows had a great response from the audiences. “I was blown away by the reaction of the audience during the first shows. I had no idea what to expect, especially from the children, but everyone was so happy. Looking around at everyone’s face after the show really is a special memory for me. Lots of smiles and laughter.” Tabitha is currently looking for a new space for the show in order to have another run of it early next year. People have already been asking when it will be put on again. She is also working on another project called Banana vs. Robot with her friend Alissa Stahl. “It’s an ongoing competition with me in a banana suit and her in a robot costume where we do very silly things like hot dog eating contests, jump rope, parallel parking.” To get a glimpse of the show, you can watch it on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otWo1z5eypY

Keep an eye out for the fun and educational children’s show Seas of Science if it is produced again at another venue as well as for Tabitha Esther who has given the local community an educational, entertaining, interactive, and original show that will hopefully just be the first of many works to come.

Seas of Science
Written and Directed by Tabitha Esther
Music by Ben Davila

Marisol……………………………………………………………… Rene Parker
Barry…………………………………………………………………. Jennifer Barbee
Sergio………………………………………………………………… Aaron Goddard
The Captain/Clyde………………………………………………. Jeff Miller
Rodger/Black Thumb……………………………………………. Teresa Williams
Lily ……………………………………………………………………. Emily Goodwin
Sophia………………………………………………………………. K.T. Wiegman
Octopus Singer…………………………………………………… Doug Tiano
Sunshine…………………………………………………………… Michael Webb
Monster Butterfly……………………………………………….. Jodi Feldman
Fruit Dancers……………………………………………………… Jodi Feldman, Leandra Amber, Rachel Harrold

Stage Manager: ………………………………………………….. Megan Graham
Sound: ……………………………………………………………… Rebecca Pavia
Lighting………………………………………………………………. Gus Helgerson
Makeup…………………………………………………………….. Zoe Hay
Stage Hand………………………………………………………… Zachary Welch

Puppets and costumes by Doug Tiano, Zoe Hay, Teresa Williams, and Swazzle Puppet Company (Sergio)

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