As the venue’s Christmas 2017 productions of The Jungle Book and The Singing Mermaid tour the UK, Royal & Derngate’s Artistic Director James Dacre announces two world premiere productions for the venue’s Made in Northampton Christmas line up this year, The Worst Witch and The Everywhere Bear.
The Royal’s Christmas Show for 2018 will be an original story for the stage by Emma Reeves (Royal Television Society Award for Best Children’s TV Programme and 2017 British Screenwriters Award for Best Children’s Programme) based upon Jill Murphy’s beloved series of classic novels The Worst Witch. The production will be directed by Theresa Heskins (2017 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People).
The Worst Witch is the story of an ordinary girl who finds herself in an extraordinary place: a school for witches. Now in her final year, accident-prone Mildred Hubble and her fellow pupils leave a trail of mayhem behind them as they find themselves at the centre of a battle that’s being fought for their future.
The Worst Witch will take to Northampton’s Royal stage from Tuesday 27 November to Sunday 30 December 2018, with a national press night on Friday 30 November. This world premiere production is co-produced with Kenny Wax Family Entertainment, Novel Theatre and Nica Burns and will embark on a major national tour after its run at Royal & Derngate.
Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch stories have sold more than five million copies and been made into films and TV series by HBO, ITV and CBBC. Jill commented: "My first trip to the theatre aged four, opened up a magical world - so real to me, that I had to be restrained from climbing onstage to help the children in peril! My mum was quite cross with me, but I never wanted the show to end and sang the songs loudly all the way home on the bus. Imagine how proud I feel, all these years later, seeing my own Mildred Hubble on stage with all the characters from Miss Cackle's Academy. I still feel thrilled to bits when I go to the theatre and I just know The Worst Witch is going to be a magical production."
Emma Reeves added: “We’re creating a brand new story as well as revisiting moments from the books. Jealous Ethel Hallow is out to spoil Mildred's fun, and Miss Hardbroom is opposed to all fun in general. But, without giving too much away, Mildred faces a greater danger than she ever imagined as an old enemy returns, with a plan for revenge that could threaten not just the Academy, but the whole world… “
Winner of the Royal Television Society Award for Best Children’s Television Programme, and of the 2017 British Screenwriters Award for Best Children’s Programme for the television adaptations of The Worst Witch, Emma Reeves’ screen writing credits include Eve, The Dumping Ground, Young Dracula and The Story of Tracy Beaker. Her stage work includes the Olivier Award-nominated and critically acclaimed adaptation of Hetty Feather (UK tour and West End).
The production will be directed by Theresa Heskins, Artistic Director of the New Vic Theatre, Staffordshire. Theresa commented: “This year, when we’ve seen the start of a rebalancing of power within our society, it feels like an important time to be creating a play about young women who are learning, collectively and individually, to use their power; and the danger if they decide to use it not for good but for ill.”
Theresa’s past productions include The Snow Queen which won the 2017 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People. Her wonderfully inventive and hugely popular production of Around the World in 80 Days was nominated for the same award, in both 2015 and 2017, and will tour to America in 2019.
Furthering Royal & Derngate’s commitment to making work in their Underground Studio to introduce young audiences to the magic of immersive theatre, the venue will also be staging another world premiere for Christmas 2018, with an adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb’s The Everywhere Bear, which comes to Northampton for the festive season after playing at its co-producing venues Polka Theatre and Little Angel Theatre.
This captivating and beautiful story springs to life with rhyme, original music and delightfully expressive puppets in an exciting production, adapted and directed by Polka Theatre’s Peter Glanville (Moominsummer Madness, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, 2014 OFFIE for Best Production for Children for Peter Pan), with music composed by Julian Butler. Aimed at under 7s and their families, the show will run from Thursday 29 November 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019.
Royal & Derngate’s Christmas 2017 co-production of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, adapted by Jessica Swale with original music by Joe Stilgoe and direction by Max Webster is currently touring the UK. Its upcoming dates include Newcastle Theatre Royal, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Norwich Theatre Royal and Nottingham Theatre Royal. Their production of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks’ The Singing Mermaid, adapted and directed by Samantha Lane with original music by Barb Jungr is currently playing a 10 week London season with co-producers Little Angel Theatre ahead of further touring across the UK.
For more information or to book tickets, call Royal & Derngate’s Box Office on 01604 624811 or visit royalandderngate.co.uk.
Made in Northampton is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jeweller.