James Haddrell speaks on Greenwich Theatre’s tradition of staging in-house family shows

James Haddrell, artistic director of Greenwich Theatre

This summer at Greenwich Theatre we are continuing a growing tradition of staging an ambitious in-house family show, following hit productions of Treasure Island (“full of fast-paced family fun” The Family Stage), The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase (“just the tonic for our anxious times” Daily Telegraph) and Pinocchio.

This year’s summer spectacular is set to be an all-singing, all-dancing production of Cinderella – but that’s not all.

As the cast of Cinderella heads into rehearsal, we are hosting two other show-stopping family productions that are generating a lot of attention, both marking Greenwich Theatre debuts for regional dance companies.

On July, 29 and 30, for ages 3+, the acclaimed Sanskruti Dance present Apple ‘n’ Spice.

Offering an introduction to Indian storytelling, dance and shadow puppetry for children, this is an original, interactive and multi-cultural dance performance.

Sanskruti’s intriguing new fairy tale tells the story of two stepmothers; one from the East and one from the West, whose stories gradually

The show culminates in a chance for the audience to join the cast on stage for an Indian party to remember.

Then, on August 1, for ages three-11 years old, Claire Benson and Pavillion Dance South West come to Greenwich for the first time with Plastic Paradiso, based on The Tin Forest by Helen Ward.

Plastic Paradiso Picture: Dan Tucker

Set on a barren, plastic-filled island, a lone inhabitant unexpectedly makes friends with an injured bird who appears there after a storm.

With the support of their new friend, the bird recovers and flies away, leaving their friend heart-broken.

Demonstrating the power of friendship, the bird returns with a seed which rewilds the island and gives new meaning to their friendship.

Both of these shows represent the broad diversity of programming that we have come to celebrate at Greenwich Theatre.

Both dance shows, both including versions of puppetry, and both offering children a glimpse of something important – in this case, either cultural or environmental.

Then it will be time to open Cinderella.

With a script originally devised by Sally Cookson, Adam Peck and their company of actors, our production will feature a company of astonishing actor-musicians, bringing to life a world of magical birds and moonlit dances.

Our Ella shares a love of bird-watching with her father, seeking out the birds that surround their home and learning their special calls, but when she finds herself in the clutches of her new wicked stepmother all of that is under threat.

However, everything is set to change again when she meets a fellow birdwatcher in the forest, receives an invitation to a ball at the palace, and discovers there’s a lot more to those birds than she first thought.

Our story is going to be played out on a set built entirely of lights. I have never worked with a set like this before – the technology is still being worked out as I write this – but it promises to be something very special and something our audiences may never have seen before.


Picture: Apple ‘n’ Spice, Picture: Simon Richardson

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