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Bear’s story of cuddles comes to stage
Published 10/02/14

MANY children will have read the picture story book of Hugless Douglas, the little boy bear who goes in search of the perfect hug — only to find it right back at home with his mum.

Now the popular story will be brought to life on the Kenton stage by children’s theatre group, Blunderbus Theatre.

The show, suitable for three- to seven-year-olds, will be staged by two actors with puppets and live music, with two performances on Sunday, February 23.

Blunderbus, which has previously brought a number of shows to the Kenton including Dragon’s Daughter and The Noisy Night, is based in Newark and has been touring with its specially-designed shows for children for 15 years. Marketing manager and former actress with the group, Chloe Phillips, said that company director Bill Davies takes an “almost scientific” approach to writing the shows in order to maximise the experience for young children.

She said: “Some of the children who come may never have been to a live theatre show before, so the actors greet them in the foyer to put them at their ease.

“We never turn the lights down really low, so that the children can still see their parents or friends. And there is always a lot of interaction with the audience, which they love.”

This is the first time the book has been adapted for the stage, and author and illustrator David Melling, whose work has included the filming of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, will be visiting rehearsals next week to give his input.

Chloe said: “It’s all really exciting. It’s at the really crative stage and it’s wonderful. The author is looking forward to seeing his drawings brought to life on the stage.

“We know that the children want to see the illustrations that they have seen in the books, so everything is very carefully crafted. We are absolutely delighted to be working on this project.”

She added that the team have always enjoyed visiting Henley on their tours, which now stretch far overseas.

She said: “The Kenton is a lovely venue. We love it because it’s got such a community spirit, with all the volunteers working to save it, but also because it’s such a traditional little theatre, just like a theatre you would see in the West End.”

Hugless Douglas plays at the Kenton Theatre at 11am and 2pm on Sunday, February 23. For tickets call (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk

PUBLISHED 10/02/14

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