Saturday, January 26, 2019


The Gruffalo’s Child. 

Adapted from Jennifer Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book by Tall Stories.Original director: Olivia Jacobs. Creative Producer: Toby Mitchell. Associate DirectorAustralia/New Zealand Liesel Badorrek. Designer Isla Shaw. Lighting Designer James Whiteside. Puppet designer Yvonne Stone. Choreographer Morag Cross. Associate choreographer: Luanna Priestman. Music and Lyrics: John Fiber and Andy Shaw. Additional lyrics: Olivia Jacobs and Robin Price. Music Production: John Fiber and Andy Shaw for Jolly Good Turnes.Company Stage Manager: Belinda Price. Assistant SStage Manager: Genevieve Davidson. Presented by CDP and Tall Stories. The Q Thjeatre. Queanbeyan and Panarang Council. Saturday January 26th and Sunday January 27th. Bookings  02 62856290 or

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

In a recent interview, celebrated children’s author, Jennifer Rowe aka Emily Rodda, remarked on the important role that children’s literature plays in encouraging the reading habits and development of young readers into well-rounded adults and lovers of literature. The same could be said of those who dedicate their art to the adaptation of children’s books to the stage and write plays for young people of all ages.  Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in the delightful CDP production of Jennifer Donaldson and  Axel Scheffler’s  popular story,The Gruffalo’s Child. This enchanting stage sequel to The Gruffalo has been directed and performed with magical flair, entrancing the young audience with excellent performances, lyrical songs and enthusiastic participation.
Mouse, Fox and Gruffalo's Child

This stage adaptation pads out the original story of the Gruffalo’s  daughter venturing into the deep dark wood with physical routines, catchy songs with pertinent morals and audience actions to keep the young involved and entertained. Rather than a mouse inventing a fierce Gruffalo to spare it from harm from the snake, the owl and the fox in the original story, Donaldson’s sequel cleverly inverts the tale to employ the “big bad mouse” as the threat to strike far into the hearts of her predators. Heedless of her father’s stern warning and with only a stick to ward off danger, the Gruffalo’s child eventually comes face to face with the big bad mouse, conjured up by the wily mouse. The fifty five minute adaptation serves as a lesson on survival and using wit and imagination to keep out of the way of harm. Fortunately for Gruffalo’s child, she learns only too well the wisdom of warning and the importance of heeding sound advice. It is a lesson not unnoticed by the youngest members of the Q Theatre audience. Like every good story, the moral is abundantly clear and Gruffalo’s child learns only too well that there is nowhere as safe as her father’s lap.
Madison Hegarty, Jade Paskins and Skyler Ellis

CDP’s production of Tall Stories’  adaptation is a wonderful theatrical treat for young and old alike. Performed with sheer enthusiasm, skill and charming vivacity by  three captivating performers, the production  is a testament to the outstanding qualities of excellent children’s theatre. It is neither patronizing, nor gratuitous and the actors perform with delight in their craft and respectful observance of their young audience.  Jade Paskins’ Child is deliciously naïve, but swift to discover her wile. As Narrator and Mouse, Madison Hegarty engages well with her young audience, although her transition from Narrator to Mouse is less dynamic. The final moment of the story, when the Gruffalo’s Child returns to the safety of the father’s lap, seems unresolved. The punch line of the final episode seems diluted after a series of high octane adventures. It is Skyler Ellis who impresses with chameleon transitions from narrator to slippery calypso swivelling snake, professorial owl  wheeler-dealing, sly fox and a Gruffalo in fine voice. His performances are finely honed for their unique personalities. Liessal Badorrek directs the Australian cast with imaginative flair and precision on designer Isla Shaw’s simple story book design with art nouveau shaped trees in front of a full moon. Morag Cross’s choreography is lively and full of fun and  John Fiber and Andy Shaw’s music and lyrics are simple, catchy and clever, complemented by original director Olivia Jacobs’ and Robin Price’s additional lyrics.

The tean behind The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and the various Treehouses of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton  have scored another magical triumph with this adaptation of The  Gruffalo’s Child, proving that the very best in Children’s  Theatre shares its place in a nation’s cultural heritage with the very best in adult theatre. Treat yourself to the magic of The Gruffalo stories as they fill the stage with colour and delight.

Don’t miss CDP and Tall Stories’ production of The Gruffalo Live on Stage at The Q from March 27 – March 30 2019