Female characters who wait around for princes to marry are boring says Lotte Wakeham, the director of the egg Theatre’s Christmas show in Bath. Amanda Cornwallis asks the questions. Feature at www.childrenstheatremagazine.co.uk
AC: Cinders, the Sleeping Beauty and Jill (as in Jack and Jill) are well known characters – so why er… the weirdly named Rumplestiltskin?
LW: One of the reasons I was drawn to Rumplestiltskin is because it isn’t very well known. It’s a fantastic story and has several unexpected twists and turns. I think audiences may be familiar with the shape of the story, but there’ll be plenty of surprises as well.
AC: Tell me about your approach to the play – I take it isn’t going to be panto in style.
LW: The writers, Matt Harvey and Thomas Hewitt Jones, have written a brand new family musical. One of the other shows that I worked on is the West End production of Roald Dahl’s MATILDA, so I’m quite familiar with that sort of theatre style, which is engaging for a wide age range, including adults and children.
AC: Some children’s theatre seems more directed at parents – how will this engage children?
LW: I think it will be totally engaging for children – it’s been written specifically for them. There will be lots of exciting visual moments and jokes as well as wordplay and an exciting story. I think children will really like the different characters in the show as well. We’ve got a brilliant cast of actors.
AC: The egg is a very intimate space – will the play reach out and involve the audience and be interactive?
LW: Absolutely. Unlike most theatres, the egg has been designed specifically for young audiences, so the space is very child friendly. The tagline for the show is “Guess My Name” and there are a few moments where we might ask for the audience’s help with this…
AC: I’m interested in the Miller’s daughter – she sounds quite feisty and a match for the villain – how have you shaped her persona?
LW: Our Miller’s daughter is called Emily and she is very feisty. I think female characters who just sit around, waiting for princes to rescue them, are a bit boring! I also think that audiences enjoy seeing powerful female characters, such as the girls in FROZEN. We’ve thought a lot about how to make Emily brave and strong, even when she finds herself in a sticky situation.
Rumplestiltskin runs from Thursday 27th November to Sunday 4th January at the egg Theatre in Bath.
For details visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk.
The production is a musical based on the fairy story revived by the Brother’s Grimm in 1812 and tells the dark and juicy tale of Rumplestiltskin, a strange, scheming creature who saves the life of the Miller’s daughter but demands a terrible price in return. The publicity says it is a tale of loose tongues, desperate deals and the power of names – all told through witty lyrics and swinging tunes, accompanied by a multi-tasking three-piece band.Read our review at http://www.childrenstheatremagazine.co.uk/?page_id=39