Tag Archives: theatre for children

Moominfab! World premiere of Tove Jansson’s Moominsummer Madness at Royal & Derngate, Northampton


This is quite exciting. If you grew up with the Moomins – those quishy hippo-ish characters Moomintroll, Moominmama, Moominpapa and Little My – you can see them brought to life this weekend on the Royal and Derngate stage.

Using brilliant puppetry, live music and humour, Moominsummer Madness is another coup for the Northampton theatres, and is an innovative show ideal for ages four and upwards. A co-production between Royal & Derngate’s Underground Studio and London’s Polka Theatre, this world premiere is staged in the Underground Studio in Northampton from Thursday 22 May until Sunday 1 June.


The Moomins live in a fairytale land of Moomin Valley and have lots of adventures. Author Tove Jansson was a Scandinavian illustrator whose books and comic strips were eventually published all over the world, and like all good children’s literature, were a little bit surreal but based on ‘human’ scenarios. Moominsummer Madness forms part of Tove 100 – a celebration of 100 years since the birth  of one of the key artists and writers in the post-war age. Her Moomin books (written between 1945-1993) have been translated into 44 languages along with animated films and a popular television series 

Moominsummer Madness finds the Moomins aboard a floating theatre after a huge flood sweeps through the valley. Mysterious things start to happen… Why is there a door in the floor? Why does the scenery start changing? And where do Moomintroll, Little My and Snork Maiden disappear to? The only way of bringing all the family back together, it seems, is to put on a play!

Local audiences have enjoyed many hugely successful shows for children and families over the years, created by Royal & Derngate’s Associate Director Dani Parr, including Flathampton and Along the Riverbank, and now she brings that trademark flare and interactivity to popular children’s storybook characters the Moomins.

The production is co-directed by Dani and Polka Theatre’s Peter Glanville (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt), bringing together the talents of Little Angel Theatre’s celebrated puppet-maker Lyndie Wright, Bruntwood Prize-winning writer Phil Porter (Starseeker) and composer Ben Glasstone, to create another example of brilliant and inventive children’s theatre.


Moominsummer Madness can be seen in Royal & Derngate’s Underground Studio from Thursday 22 May to Sunday 1 June, before transferring to Polka Theatre in London. The first two days are exclusively for schools (tickets priced £9 each, with one ticket free with every 10 purchased). Tickets for family performances from Saturday 24 May to Sunday 1 June are £10* each. Times vary. Call Box Office on 01604 624811 or visit http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk to check times and book tickets.

On Friday 30 May there will be the opportunity for children aged from 8 to 15 to work with a professional puppeteer to bring a puppet character to life in one of two puppet-making workshops, running from 11am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3pm. The cost is £5 per participant and places can be booked by calling Box Office.

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De ja vu repost of Flathampton review as it returns to Derngate

THE innovative and interactive show Flathampton is returning to Royal & Derngate in Northampton from July 15-30. The show is for children of all ages and their families but there are a couple of shows for teens/adults only.

Weekday term-time performances are ideal for early years (under 6s) and their families and along with schools and nurseries (tickets £6 each), while weekend and school holiday performances are suitable for children of all ages with their families (tickets £7 each). To check times and prices or to book, call the Box Office on 01604 624811 or visit http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk.There are also two special evening performances, with a grown up twist, on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 July for teenagers and adults only (tickets £10).

Review, Flathampton, Royal & Derngate to Saturday 17 July, 2010

ROYAL & Derngate should be applauded for its determination to provide innovative, engaging theatre for pre-schoolers. It’s always going to be unpredictable.

This time it’s a huge production, with a larger audience. Flathampton uses the entire Derngate auditorium, with the seats removed. The whole space has become a giant children’s playmat.

Like previous shows, Knit-Wits, Wish-Wash and Where’s the Bear, Flathampton is directed by Northampton’s own Dani Parr and doesn’t involve toddlers sitting wriggling on grown-up laps. Everyone’s part of the ‘show.’

You’re greeted by the bus conductor in the foyer and taken up and down stairs and through to Flathampton, where a story emerges. Everything in Flathampton is flat, until former resident Kate arrives and converts the horizontal set into a vertical, 3D one. It’s like watching dozens of under-sixes make a town from baby-flat-pack.

There are actors in character controlling an area of the town – the children can DJ at the music-store, dress-up at the make-over shop, visit the post-office, get money from the Flathampton Bank to spend at the grocer’s and treat their parents at the hospital.

It’s weird, it’s chaos, but the kids adored it.

Our two-year old and six-year old were baffled at first (too long queuing for the bus) but were soon running around trying everything and talking to the characters. After an hour and a half they had to be prised out of the theatre.

Try and get a ticket if you can, embrace your inner-child, and enjoy a visit to a show that’s anything but flat.

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