The set for Champaign Park District Youth Theatre’s production of “Moana Jr.” was minimal.
After all, most of the play takes place at sea. But the play about an ocean voyage needed a sailboat that would not only stand out stylistically, but could also hold three people and move smoothly.
“The set is really interesting, because they’re on the ocean 80 percent of the show,” director Alexis Webb said. “We needed something to really guide the show. We knew we needed boats, and the dads from the show just kind of took it from there.”
Parent David Fazio, who made a car for the theater’s production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” a few years ago, stepped in and designed a set piece that was “far grander,” Webb said, than she could have come up with otherwise. Fazio and fellow parent Garret Gengler built the boat, complete with inscriptions, metal bars and a 12-foot sail.
The boat can support 1,000 pounds, Webb said.
“It looks like Disney World made it. I mean, it’s so beautiful,” she said. “At the end of the show, we have five people standing on it, and it looks really great.”
This play, which was scheduled to be performed before COVID-19 canceled the company’s productions last year, is especially meaningful.
“For some kids, this is the one thing that can make them feel important and like they can express their true selves,” Webb said. “And they didn’t get to express themselves in that way for a year and a half. I think this is the first thing that’s brought a lot of joy back for a lot of people.”
After opening on Thursday and Friday, the musical will close out today with performances at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign.