For all of those budding actors, dancers and “extra’s” in your life, we present the perfect picture book. It is called Curtain Up: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House, and it’s written and illustrated by Lauren O’Hara.
It opens with an adorable welcome by Figaro the Cat, tour guide for the Royal Opera House of London. From there, Figaro guides elementary-aged students backstage among the costumes to study all the love, hope and fine stitching that goes into making sure actors look authentic. Then it’s on to the wigs and hats department for a quick lesson on what wigs are made of, and how costume jewelry is created from inexpensive metals, stone, sequins and wire. Tourists simply can’t pass the pointe shoe room, because this is the room that produces the shoes female ballet dancers use to stand on their tippy-toes.
It’s on to other important departments, too, like the scenery department, the prop department, the ballet studio, and even the armory department — where weapons are made for performance use.
This is a colorful and informative book that makes theater, acting, and behind the scenes seem fun and doable. Author Lauren O’Hara’s prose is both age-appropriate and exciting, and her lively illustrations gives the over-sized book a “Night Before Christmas” sort of appeal. There is a section on famous costumes through the years, and there are behind-the-scenes sections on what goes on in the rehearsal room and dressing room just before the performance. There is a fabulous two-page spread that describes the orchestra pit, and even a section on special effects. At the end, children can learn how they can become involved in theater, too.
Use this lovely book in early elementary classes, as a supplement when a school play is being planned, or simply for independent reading.