The Tiger Who Came To Tea offers summer fun at The Capitol, Horsham on Tuesday, August 13 and Wednesday, August 14 as the show celebrates more than ten years on stage. “This is our 11th year on the road,” says David Wood who adapted and directed the tale, based on the book by Judith Kerr.
“It just keeps going really. It opened in 2008 at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London for a short summer season to try it out and then it went off on tour. Since then it has been in the West End four or five times and it has been all over the world. It has done the Sydney Opera House, Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Hong Kong and Singapore and also China several times.”
The famous premise is that the doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mother are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big, stripy tiger…
“One of the clever things about the show is that it is a very tight ship,” David says. “There are six of them that go on the road, just six in all. You have got three on stage, and you have got two understudies one of which is the assistant stage manager, and you have got the company manager. A lot of these shows are done like that now. It means that they can sometimes do three theatres a week, maybe two days in each or they might or they might not have a day in between. It means that it is very viable. And people come to see it, which is always nice!”
As for the reasons behind its success: “It is a classic story and it pleases me that we have got a show that is selling itself on the popularity of the book rather than a TV or film spin-off, and also the fact that it has been around a long time. The book is now 51 years old.
“There are all the ingredients there that are good ingredients. There is a child protagonist, and there is also a family domestic setting, which is unusual in a way. I think a lot of picture books have families of animals that are anthropomorphised, but this is a normal human family.
“And also there is a lot of food! And then there is what I can only describe as the magical, almost surreal element. The story is very straightforward. A mother and a child are having their tea and there is a ring at the door and it is a tiger who comes in and eats them out of house and home and then leaves. Nobody waves a magic wand. It just happens, and that is what I mean by the surreal element, not that any of the four-year-olds would call it surreal! But what I like is the normality of the unreal, and I think it is that that makes it work.”
David is delighted to say that author Judith Kerr, who died earlier this year, became a very dear friend.
He first met her at Buckingham Palace: “I had written a play for the Queen’s 80th birthday which was performed live in Buckingham Palace gardens at the children’s party at the Palace. And also there was a reception for children’s authors at Buckingham Palace which I was asked to host. I was welcoming people and there was this lady that I didn’t recognise. I asked who it was, and they said Judith Kerr, and that rang huge bells because The Tiger Who Came To Tea was my daughter’s favourite book. I almost went down on one knee to introduce myself!”
Tickets are available from The Capitol box office on 01403 750220 or online at www.thecapitolhorsham.com.