Is the grass really greener on the other side?
We’ve been spoilt rotten by the Singapore Repertory Theatre with it’s trio-series of children’s musicals. Our kids went wild for the sell-out first two instalments, The Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks & the Three Bears, so we’re chomping at the bit for the third and final production, The Three Billy Goats Gruff. There’s just something immediately intriguing about this fable with it’s “eat me when I’m fatter” plot. And it simply doesn’t get better than sitting down for a cuppa with one half of the Laurence Olivier award-winning West-End musical theatre songwriting duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Honk! and Mary Poppins). Anthony’s got the low down on what to expect at this snortingly silly, laugh-out-loud musical adventure.
Hi Anthony, tell us about SRT’s version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. How is it different from the original Norwegian fairytale?
The Three Billy Goats Gruff is actually a very slight story, but that gives us, as writers, scope to flesh it out a bit more and develop the characters. We still have the eponymous Goats, but in our story they are cared for by Little Bo-Frilly (Little Bo-Peep’s sister) who is trying to prove to her father that she is responsible enough to look after animals. A drought forces Little Bo-Frilly and her Goats to wander farther afield which is when they encounter the Troll. We also wanted to introduce the moral lesson that sometimes, when you think the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it is not always the case.
The Cast and Crew (including you and George) are world class. How important is this in the creative process?
It’s critical to the success of a production that there’s top quality writers, professional standard actors and internationally renowned set and design. SRT are on board with the vision and don’t cut corners just because it’s a kids show (they’ve flown in the costumes from London).
We love a good aha moment when the moral of the story is clear. What are the key lessons for our kids?
It’s very satisfying watching the little faces in the crowd and witnessing their learning journey. We believe kids need to be active participators in the story, so the musical is highly interactive. The importance of being resourceful and thinking on your feet is demonstrated in a fun and engaging way. Through music and lyrics children get to grips with the concept that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and to appreciate what they have.
We grew up being told to read the book before watching a play / film. What can kids glean from books retold through performance?
I think there is nothing quite like a live performance especially when, in the case of our children’s trilogy of musicals, there is the chance for some audience participation. Children love to shout back at the villains. When children, as young as three, already know the basic story then they can enjoy the realisation of the characters coming to life and acting the story out for them – in this case with a lot of song and dance thrown in too. Funnily enough, in both Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Three Little Pigs, children are urged to read books – in both cases it is through reading that our goodies defeat the baddies!
Any special surprises in store to entice audiences?
Well, we have one or two surprises up our sleeves including tap dancing Goats who also play the ukulele! We have changed the story slightly when it comes to the final confrontation between Big Billy Goat Gruff and the Troll. We researched the Norwegian folklore concerning Trolls (which originated in Scandinavia) and discovered that, like vampires, Trolls cannot come out during daylight or else they will turn into stone. We are hoping that Francis O’Connor’s set design will enable us to do that on stage!
Thanks so much Anthony for taking a moment to chat out of your busy schedule. Now we’re off to book our tix to The Three Billy Goats Gruff!
Miss out on the action and it will really get your goat:
What: The Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Three Billy Goats Gruff presented by The Little Company.
Where: DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Road, Robertson Quay, Singapore 239035, p. 6733 8166.
When: 2 Apr – 10 May 2015, 10am (weekdays), 11am & 2pm (w/e), duration 50 mins.
Cost: $22 – $35 (not including SISTIC fee).
This post is sponsored by the Singapore Repertory Theatre.