Thursday, 22 November 2018

Gruffalo creators’ show has four stories for price of one

Gruffalo creators’ show has four stories for price of one

AFTER enchanting audiences in the West End and all over the world, a show adapted from the bestselling “Tiddler” books by Gruffalo creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is playing at the Oxford Playhouse until tomorrow (Saturday).

Funky moves, toe-tapping tunes and giggles are guaranteed in this delightful show for ages three and up.

Tiddler and other Terrific Tales weaves together four stories by the pair, who have sold more than 13 million copies of The Gruffalo worldwide.

Julia is best known for her popular rhyming stories for children, especially those illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which include Zog, Stick Man and Room on the Broom.

In Tiddler and other Terrific Tales, live music and puppetry bring to life a whole host of colourful characters from some of her best-loved titles — Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze.

Is Tiddler telling the truth? Will Monkey find his Mummy? Will George The Giant make lots of friends?

Can the old lady really squash and squeeze all those animals in?

Having played in the West End and all over the world, the production is coming to the Playhouse as part of a 2018 theatre tour.

Julia remembers seeing it for the first time.

“I just loved its energy and the music,” she says. “I love the way that they get just the right level of audience participation — it keeps everyone involved.”

She acknowledges that her books being adapted for the stage brings new audiences to her work.

“It’s a win-win situation for all of us,” she says. “The fact that the book is already popular encourages people to go and see it and a lot of the children who go do so because they know the book. But I think it’s different when you have a school group go and see it as not all of those children will have read it. And so it brings new children to the story.” Now 69, Julia saw her first book A Squash and a Squeeze published when she was in her mid-40s and has been a prolific writer ever since, publishing well over 100 books as well as plays, songs, musicals and poems.

While all families will have their firm favourites, bestsellers have included Zog, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

An avid reader as a child, Julia knew from a very young age that she wanted to tell stories — and share them with other people.

As a children’s author who has also written teen fiction, Julia knows the value of fiction to young people.

“These days a lot of schools are doing projects on particular books and very often they are my books,” she says. “Every month I get about 30 schools sending me bundles of letters from about 30 to 60 children who are doing a project on one of my books.

“For me the greatest pleasure comes from reading a book and all that the imagination can bring to that experience. I don’t see books and television and theatre as competing with each other. What matters is that children have the opportunity to experience that pleasure of reading a book. And the whole experience of theatre is also something magical — especially for children who have not been to the theatre before.

“I went to the theatre to see Where the Rainbow Ends as a child and that is something I still remember. That memory and that experience of theatre will stay with them for ever.”

Julia was the Children’s Laureate from 2011 to 2013, and remains a passionate advocate of children’s fiction and theatre.

“I do a lot of events and book signings, and while some of the people will say they have read my books, sometimes it is someone who knows the story because they have seen it in the theatre. Either way, they have responded to it and remembered it.”

Show times are 11am and 2pm with tickets priced £10 to £14.50. For more information and to book, call 01865 305305 or visit www.oxfordplayhouse.com

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