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Preview: Festive family shows at Northern Stage

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Festive family shows at Northern Stage

Up and Out, Christmas Sprout
Saturday 14th November 2015Saturday 2nd January 2016
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Saturday 28th November 2015Saturday 2nd January 2016
Newcastle Northern Stage

Two original productions for families première at Northern Stage in Newcastle over the festive period.

Award-winning poet and playwright Caroline Bird (Secret Theatre/Lyric Hammersmith) has written a brand new play based on Frank L Baum’s classic story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (28 November – 2 January 2016) for children over 7 and their families.

A cyclone sweeps Dorothy Gale far, far away from her grey, boring life. She’d rather keep her trainers on than wear ruby slippers but here she is in the Technicolor Land of Oz, ready for an adventure. Directed by Mark Calvert (The Ballad of Little Johnnie Wylo, The Letter Room), this new Northern Stage production will be designed by the ever-inventive Rhys Jarman (Institute, Gecko) with original music performed live on stage by Jeremy Bradfield (The Worst Princess, New Writing North).

Director Mark Calvert says, “Our version will be more Roald Dahl than Judy Garland. It will be set at a fairground – we experience everything through Dorothy’s eyes, the possibilities of what can happen at a fairground are endless – but like the original, at the end of the day it’s all about the importance of family.

Costume design: Rhys Jarman
Writer Caroline Bird says, “As a child, I absolutely loved the story. However, being a ten-year-old know-it-all bookworm who could spot a moral sleight of hand at a hundred yards, I hated the final bit when the horrible, lying Wizard gives them life-lessons. I thought, ‘Hey! He’s a humbug, living in Emerald luxury while Munchkins get enslaved, and now we’re taking his advice? No thanks very much!’ So this is inspired by that childlike anger: Oz is a troubled land, Dorothy the Brave is there for a reason - she lands in a mysterious country of tiny people and wicked witches, where the trees carry bazookas, the crows recite slam poetry, and a mouse can blow your head off. In just one day, this little girl revolutionises an entire nation. She brings freedom, and colour.”

Costume design: Rhys Jarman
The cast includes Tessa Parr (Get Santa, Northern Stage) as Dorothy; Zoe Lambert (Tyne, Live Theatre) as the Wicked Witch; Carl Kennedy (Shh A Christmas Story, Northern Stage and a member of improv group The Suggestibles) as Nick Chopper (the Tinman); Michael Blair (Mr Scratch, Northern Stage, and a founder member of The Letter Room) as the Cowardly Lion; Ruth Johnson (The Christmas Grump, Northern Stage) as Queen of the Field Mouses; and Maria Crocker (Jumping Puddles, Open Clasp/Frantic Assembly) as the Scarecrow; with puppetry by Tom Walton (The Borrowers, Northern Stage).

Illustration: John Disley
And for under 6s, Up and Out, Christmas Sprout (14 November – 2 January 2016) is written by Laura Lindow (Heartbreak Soup, Live Theatre). Follow our brave(ish) hero William Russell Sprout Junior up and out into the winter sky. Up, up and away to the Wild Beyond, negotiating snowy rooftops and stormy seas on his quest to put things back the way they were.

The show is directed by Unfolding Theatre’s Annie Rigby who has a wealth of experience of making shows for young children, having previously directed Tattercoats and Thumbelina for Northern Stage. She says, “I’ve admired Laura’s writing for many years, so it’s a delight to collaborate with her this Christmas and we’ve got a great team working to create a magical world for Northern Stage’s youngest audiences. It’s such a privilege to make theatre for children - for many, it might be the first time they’ve come to see a show and we want to make the whole experience very special.”

Photo: Mark Savage
Set and costume design is by Lily Arnold; Lily was design assistant in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2009-2011, and most recently designed Yellow Face for the National Theatre Shed and Minotaur for Polka Theatre. 

Photo: Mark Savage
Willie Sprout will be played by Tom Isted, a former Northern Stage Young Company member; Hannah Goudie (Camisado Club founding member and graduate of Northern Stage’s NORTH programme) plays Aurora Barora; and Karen Traynor (The Borrowers, Northern Stage) plays Hether Grether. Original music comes from composer and music director Tim Dalling (New Rope String Band), who also plays Willie’s Dad, with live music performed by the cast.

Up and Out, Christmas Sprout
Saturday 14th November 2015Saturday 2nd January 2016, See website for performance schedule
Adult: £14 / £12.50 / £7.50 Child: £10 / £9.50 / £7.50 Under 12 months: £2
Booking: call the box office on 0191 230 5151.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Saturday 28th November 2015Saturday 2nd January 2016, see website for performance schedule
£24, £19.50, £14.50. Student / Under 21, £12. Family tickets £60
Booking: call the box office on 0191 230 5151.

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