Children, News, Reviews, Theatre

Enormouse success

Review: CDP presents Tall Stories’ production The Gruffalo⋅ 
Heath Ledger Theatre, June 5 ⋅
Review by Rosalind Appleby ⋅

The theatre has the potential to be the ultimate playground for children. The sense of exploration is ignited just by climbing the stairs into the venue (especially the State Theatre Centre staircase with its stalactites hanging from the ceiling) and working out how to sit on the folding chairs. As teachers shushed and parents passed popcorn the sense of adventure was palpable at the Tall Stories (UK) production of The Gruffalo which opened in Perth this week.

The success of this adaption of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s classic storybook (touring Australia with CDP Kids) is that it takes a child’s imaginative potential and lets it flourish. The audience are invited into the adventure in true British pantomime style; there is no time for yawns in this action-packed hour, no need to dampen down lively spirits.

The audience were part of the storytelling from the outset as the three actors introduced themselves and applied their accessories onstage: a rope tail and a painted nose for the Mouse and hat flaps that turned into ears for the Fox. There was no doubting the characters or the story line and in several places the actors allowed the delighted children to fill in the gaps of Donaldson’s iconic rhyming verse.

Mouse meets the animals in the forest (cast from 2017 production). Photo Heidrun Lohr.

The story about a mouse taking a walk in a deep dark wood is supplemented with song and dance numbers and lots of banter. Fox references Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail in his list of tasty meals, and blames a bouncing Tigger for his indigestion. Owl is a retired air force general who gets Mouse marching, while the sequined Snake dances a samba in front of his (fairylight adorned) logpile house. The additions are funny, smart and draw the audience deeper into the characters. The response was one of undampened enthusiasm as children shouted directions, completed the rhymes and screamed with delight when the shaggy Gruffalo came running into the auditorium to hide from the Mouse.

The all-Australian cast was led by Shannen Sarstedt as the sharp-witted, karate chopping Mouse, supported by narrators  Kyle Kaczmarczyk (who doubled as a Gruffalo that was more softie than scary) and Skyler Ellis whose theatrics created hilarious caricatures of the woodland animals.

Isla Shaw’s forest set design was playful and lush, colourfully lit by James Whiteside. Jon Fiber’s music was catchy and Liesel Badorrek’s recreation of the work of original director Olivia Jacobs completed the entertaining package. My 6 and 8 year old theatre goers were completely caught up in the adventure, delighting in the bravery of the mouse and the antics of the Gruffalo. The show is marketed towards children 3+ and we can confirm it is an ‘enormouse’ success with kids of all ages.

The Gruffalo runs at the State Theatre Centre until June 9.

Pictured top: Mouse meets the Gruffalo. Photo Heidrun Lohr. (Cast from the 2017 season).

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2 male actors, 1 female actor, in a forest setting
Calendar, Children, June 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Children: Theatre: The Gruffalo

4 – 9 June @ The State Theatre Centre of Western Australia ·
Presented by CDP ·

Whether their favourite food is roasted fox, owl ice cream, scrambled snake or Gruffalo crumble, audiences eat up this delectable tale about the adventures of a clever little mouse in a forest full of predators, which returns to Perth after sell-out seasons when it plays at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia from 4-9 June 2019!

Adapted from the Gold Award-winning children’s book, The Gruffalo follows Mouse into the deep dark wood on the hunt for hazelnuts. Armed with just a nut map and a very vivid imagination, Mouse runs into the smirking, wheeler-dealer Fox; an eccentric, retired Woodland Air Force General Owl; and the maraca-shaking, party animal Snake. Rather than becoming the main course of their next meal, Mouse kills their appetites with stories of an imaginary monster friend. But what happens when Mouse welcomes face to face with the very creature she imagined? In a production that has become the toast of London’s West End, Tall Stories & CDP vibrantly reinvent this delightful tale through its signature style of bold, multifaceted storytelling.

A trio of bright new performers fill the forest with colourful characters and toe tapping, sing-along songs. Audiences will be dazzled with brand new sets and costumes when the return season entices fans with the magic of the deep dark wood.

Tuesday 4th of June at 1pm
Wednesday 5th of June at 10am & 12pm
Thursday 6th of June at 10am & 12pm
Friday 7th of June at 10am & 12pm
Saturday 8th of June at 10am, 12pm & 3pm
Sunday 9th of June at 10am & 12pm

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/the-gruffalo/

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Three actors dressed in costume for The Gruffalo's Child
Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Joyful storytelling in Gruffalo sequel

Review: CDP Theatre Producers, The Gruffalo’s Child ·
State Theatre Centre of WA, Heath Ledger Theatre, November 21 ·
Review: Robert Housley ·

Toddler tears in less than five minutes and pierced chambers of the inner ear from a crying baby could not douse the enjoyment of The Gruffalo’s Child, a slick production from accomplished touring company CDP Theatre Producers.

Nor could it dampen the enthusiasm of its wonderfully cohesive cast, comprising Jade Paskins, Madison Hegarty and Skyler Ellis.

It was just another day at the office for children’s theatre targeted at the 3+ age group, as it was for accompanying parents and grandparents.

Oh, for the afternoon sleep.

For the most part the whipper-snappers were just as fixated on this stage adaptation of the immensely popular eponymous children’s book as they have been on the book itself (and as they were on The Gruffalo, of which this book and production are sequels). My neighbouring grandmother and her four-year-old grandson even brought the hard copy sequel along for a quick read before the show.

The real joy of this production is in its story telling, with whip-smart direction from Olivia Jacobs (with associate director Liesel Badorrek) moving the action along at a pace to keep the youngsters engaged.

The cast also fill their roles perfectly. Paskin’s Child beautifully captures the essence of the Gruffalo’s inquisitive daughter on her plight to find the Big Bad Mouse in the Deep Dark Wood.

Hegarty deftly plays narrative guide, wafting through the play with sound effects and movement, and joining in the occasional ensemble songs (music and lyrics by Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw; additional lyrics by Olivia Jacobs and Robin Price; choreographer Morag Cross; associate choreographer Luanna Priestman).

Ellis steals the show somewhat, in an actor’s dream role, playing multiple characters from the snoring Gruffalo to the salesman Fox. His radical change of voice for each character and the stunning companion costumes show both his considerable talent and that of designer Isla Shaw (puppet design by Yvonne Stone).

Like all of the best children’s theatre, the kids are encouraged to be part of the action in this production, and Wednesday’s audience spontaneously complied: clapping, singing and generally responding to invitations to get involved.

The simple set of truncated, leafless trees is seamlessly modified to accommodate the various scenes and disguise the numerous on-stage costume changes.

Lighting changes (design by James Whiteside) are kept to a minimum throughout so the kids can see all of the action all of the time while not making the Deep Dark Wood so deep or so dark.

Sleep, little one, sleep.

The Gruffalo’s Child is performed until December 2.

Junior review ·
Review by Isabel Greentree, age 9 ·

Many children may have read the story of The Gruffalo’s Child or seen the movie, but none are like this amazing stage performance. CDP Theatre Producers’ musical version of The Gruffalo’s Child, directed by Olivia Jacobs and performed by Madison Hegarty, Skyler Ellis and Jade Paskins, is a fun-filled hour of entertainment.

At the start, three children are playing in the snow and they begin to tell a scary story about the Gruffalo, but are interrupted by some loud snores. We meet the Gruffalo and his child when he is telling her a story about the Big Bad Mouse. He gives her the Stick Man to give her courage. When he is asleep, the Gruffalo’s Child tries to play hide and seek with the Stick Man but eventually gets bored and sets out on an adventure to find the Big Bad Mouse.

She meets several animals including the Snake (throwing a party), the Owl (giving flying lessons) and the Fox (trying to sell everything). Each meeting with an animal involves a song. In the end, the Gruffalo’s Child meets a mouse who tells her he is a friend of the Big Bad Mouse and manages to scare her away.

The set included spooky trees with branches shaped like long fingers. There was a wide yellow moon behind the trees, glowing gently. The costumes were clever and effective.

My favourite part was when the mouse nearly wakes up the Gruffalo with her squeaking. I also enjoyed the way the Gruffalo’s Child could never quite keep up with the dancing. There were lots of jokes and funny parts for adults and children alike. The very young children in the audience really enjoyed it too. I really liked the play and think it is suitable for all ages. Go and see it while you can!

The Gruffalo’s Child is performed until December 2.

 

Photo: Heidrun Lohr

 

 

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Calendar, Children, January 18, Performing arts, Theatre

Children’s theatre: The Gruffalo

3 – 14 January @ State Theatre Centre of WA •
Presented by CDP Theatre Producers •

Based on the award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood…

After sell-out seasons across the world, including London’s West End & Broadway, The Gruffalo returns to Perth in an all new production!

Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in this magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the party mad Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there?

Songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3+ and their grown-ups…

“ funny, charming and smart… brings the house down” – Sydney Morning Herald
“ Beg, borrow or steal tickets. Your kids will love you for it” -Stage Whispers

More info: http://premier.ticketek.com.au

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