Walliams tale comes to the Beck
HIS stories are read by millions of children across the world and now one of David Walliams’ creations is coming to your doorstep as part of a world tour.
Get ready to blast off to the moon with Sheila the Hippo at the Beck Theatre, in Hayes.
It is one of more than 40 locations across the country showing the stage adaptation of David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon, which is currently running at the Hippodrome Theatre, in Eastbourne.
The story is a space adventure which follows Sheila the Hippo as she competes with the incredibly rich Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III to become the first hippo to set foot on the moon.
“I have always been fascinated with the space race of the 1960s and wanted to do a spoof on that.” says author David Walliams.
“I like the idea of hippos going to the moon as they are the animals least likely to.
“It’s a very visual book, with amazing illustrations by Tony Ross, so it should be a very colourful stage production.”
The production has been adapted for the stage by Les Enfants Terribles and Les Petits artistic director Oliver Lansley, who has experience with children’s theatre.
Artistic director Oliver Lansley says there was something about the book which caught his eye: “A cracking, pompous female hippo as our lead, a jungle full of animals and a race to the moon – it just seemed so full of opportunity that we had to adapt it for the stage!”
The animals on stage are depicted by puppets, designed by Nick Barnes and Finn Calwell, just some of the minds behind the iconic War Horse puppets.
“The puppets are all voiced live on stage by the puppeteers manipulating them,” says puppet maker and director Mr Calwell.
He adds: “Our central hippo (Sheila) wears a hippo suit and mask. All of the other characters of various sizes and shapes and are what you might call contact puppets, in that the performers are in direct connection with them.”
Comedian and author Walliams began his publishing career in 2008 and has often been compared to Roald Dahl and it is not hard to see why.
He has sold more than 9.5 million books in the UK and his work has been translated into 45 different languages.
The children’s author says he has many inspirations: “There are so many great writers for children right now.”
“My personal favourites right now are JK Rowling, Julia Donaldson, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo. As a young child I loved Richard Scarry and Dr Seuss.
“My absolute hero is Roald Dahl. He is the greatest children’s writer of all time as he wrote so many brilliant books.”
If you are planning to head along to the show, the number one bestselling children’s author has this message for families: “Whoever you are you should dream big, just like Sheila the hippo.
“Plus, if you work together as a team then you can achieve so much more.”
The play is showing at the Beck Theatre in Hayes on Saturday January 21 and Sunday January 22.
ADAPTATION: David Walliams