Grandpa in my Pocket comes to the stage for a whole new ‘Grandpa’ theatre experience for young fans of the hugely popular CBeebies television series.
Sunnysands Pirate, Horatio Heave Ho takes Jason and Jemima on a pirate adventure in search of treasure. But when things go wrong, it’s time for Grandpa to put on his Shrinking Cap and save the day. It’s Teamwork!
A brand new story told by a young ensemble cast who bring all your favourite Sunnysands characters and places to life before your eyes. Imaginative and highly theatrical, children will fall in love with Grandpa in my Pocket all over again.
Based upon the television series Grandpa in my Pocket
produced by Adastra Creative Limited.
Running Time: 2 hours (including an interval)
Age guidance: 4-11 years
‘A magical show…perfect’
‘Fresh, bright and funny…so lovingly done that it feels like being warmed by the sun.’
‘Keeps young and old entranced…captures the essence of the (TV) series perfectly’
‘A magical time’
‘Exhilarating and magical…the result is an energetic, witty, sharply acted performance that delights in its imagination and theatricality.’
Thurs 23rd – Friday 31st May
Box Office: 0115 9419419
Thurs 6th – Sun 9th June
Box Office: 01793 524 481
Fri 14th – Sun 16th June
Box Office: 01270 686 777
Weds 19th – Sat 22nd June
Box office: 01902 429212
Croydon Ashcroft Theatre
Weds 26th – Sun 30th June
Box Office: 020 8688 9291
Cardiff New Theatre
Thurs 4th – Sun 7th July
Box Office: (029) 2087 8889
Hall for Cornwall
Weds 10th– Sat 13th July
Box office: 01872 262466
Hastings White Rock Theatre
Thurs 18 – Sun 21 July
Box Office: 01424 462 288
Weds 24th – Sat 27th July
Box office: 01274 432000
Dartford Orchard Theatre
Weds 31st July – Sunday 4th August
Box Office: 01322 220000
Exeter Northcott Theatre
Weds 7th – Sunday 11th August
Box Office: 01392 493 493
New Theatre Oxford
Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th August
Box office: 0844 871 3020
Wycombe Swan Theatre
Friday 30th August – Sunday 1st September
Box office: 01494 512000
Rhyl Pavilion Theatre
Wednesday 4th – Sunday 8th September
Box office: 01745 330000
Wednesday 11th - Sunday 15th September
Box Office: 0844 871 7651
Brighton Theatre Royal
Wednesday 18th – Sunday 22nd September
Box Office: 0844 871 7650
Production shots: Robert Workman
Dad/Mr Mentor/Mr Liker Biker
Mum/Great Aunt Loretta
If Ebony was small for a day – she would jump into a TV and explore all the adventures on CBeebies especially on her favourite cartoon show, Arthur. He’s cool!
Television credits include: Bubbles the Babysitter in Grandpa in My Pocket (CBeebies and Adastra Creative); Helpful Harry in Little Red Things promo (Adastra Creative). Theatre credits include: Tommy the Cat in Dick Whittington and His Cat (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds); Winnie in Winnie the Witch (Manchester Dancehouse); the Lonely Clown in The Alchemystorium (Greenwich Theatre); Sarah in The Rotten Wedding (Theatre Royal York) and Enid in A Merry Little Christmas (The Junction, Cambridge). Voice-over work includes: Matilda in Matilda , Sophie in The BFG and a narrator for Channel 4’s The Hoobs. As well as performing, Lizzie has had professional experience in directing and choreography. Directing credits include: The Night Keeper (Greenwich Theatre and national tour); Sweet Charity (Northcott Theatre, Exeter) and The Rotten Wedding Reworked (Marlborough Pub Theatre). Choreography credits for television include: Ha Ha Hairies (Adastra Creative and Cartoon Network). Choreography credits for theatre include: A Dirty Martini With Evelyn Waugh by TrailBlaze Theatre Company.
If Lizzie was small for a day – she would jump on her dog’s back and ride him round the living room; perhaps set up a jumping course and do some dog show jumping!
If Javan was small for a day – he would set up a mini ski resort in his freezer.
If Robin was small for a day – he’d let his children play with me (as long as they were gentle, of course!). His daughter would probably dress him in her doll’s clothes so they could have a party in her doll house and his son would probably put me in his remote controlled car and take me for a spin in the garden.
If Dale was small for a day – he would sit on his son’s shoulder when he starts school in September and tell him that there’s nothing to worry about.
If Sam was small for a day – he’d be a Flea Circus Ringmaster!
Creative Team Biographies
Mellie Buse and Jan Page set up Adastra Creative eight years ago. Their first commission – Grandpa in my Pocket proved to be a huge hit on CBeebies and has sold to over 100 territories. It has been nominated for a Bafta for Best Pre-school Live Action show on three occasions and won the Welsh Bafta for Best Children’s Programme in 2010. Adastra’s most recent production is Ha Ha Haries which can be seen every day on Cartoon Network’s preschool channel, Cartoonito.
As a television scriptwriter, playwright and novelist, Jan Page’s professional experience ranges right across the age spectrum. She has been a writer on many highly successful television series including The Tweenies, The Hoobs, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam and Thomas the Tank Engine , and has scripted several episodes of the daytime medical drama Doctors . Jan has written some thirteen professionally-produced plays, including adaptations of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast for the New Victoria Theatre in Stoke on Trent. She has also published seven books for children and young adults including Dog on a Broomstick, The Chocolate Monster, Juggling Lessons, Drummer and Selina Penaluna.
Mellie Buse began her career in audio publishing, producing radio programmes across a number of genres – audio books, drama documentaries and dramatised children’s stories. The most comprehensive body of work was a series of nine fully dramatised Roald Dahl Titles for Penguin Audio which she dramatised, produced and directed.
Mellie began working in television as a writer on The New Adventures of Captain Pugwash and this was followed by Mopatop’s Shop , a live action show for the Jim Henson company. She wrote on various series for HIT Entertainment including Angelina Ballerina and The Magic Key , along with a number of programmes for BBC Education. She then landed the Head Writing/Series Producer role on Jim Henson’s The Hoobs – a 250 half hour live action pre-school show for Channel 4 which won the BAFTA for Best Pre-School live action show. Latterly, Mellie went to Sydney to Exec Produce a Henson/Yoram Gross co-production – Bambaloo and has since scripted Fireman Sam and Guess with Jess . She has also worked on all three series of the acclaimed Charlie and Lola television show as Script Editor/Pre-School consultant.
Previously directing credits include Mike Kenny’s The Gardener for AJTC/Nottingham Playhouse Roundabout TIE (2005) and Peter Rumney’s Dragon Breath for Dragon Breath Theatre Company (2004). In 2006 she directed Journey to the River Sea (adapted by Carl Miller from the novel by Eva Ibbotson) for Theatre Centre and the Unicorn Theatre and subsequently became Unicorn Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director (2007 to 2011). While there she directed seven shows for young audiences including Duck! by Philip Osment, Twelfth Night , and The Garbage King (by Oladipo Agboluaje from the novel by Elizabeth Laird). Previously she was Director of Theatre Centre (1993-2007) for whom she commissioned over 30 new plays for young audiences. Rosamunde has worked in theatre since 1978 and her productions have toured to Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. Other organisations include: Sherman Theatre Company, Spectacle Theatre, Made in Wales Theatre Company, Theatr Clwyd, Welsh National Opera and Polka Theatre for Children. From 1985 to 1993, she directed 11 new pieces for Hijinx Theatre, returning in 2006 to direct Louise Osborn’s Estella’s Fire. After Grandpa she will be dusting off her passport and packing her bags to take her Unicorn production of The Snow Queen by Anupama Chandrasekhar to India with the British Council and Trestle Theatre, with whom she is currently Visiting Director.
Nettie Scriven is a designer with 30 years’ experience in animating a variety of theatre spaces, including main stages, schools, community centres, arts centres, studio theatres, children’s centres and art galleries. Performance spaces include Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leicester Haymarket, Sheffield Crucible, Contact Theatre, Traverse Theatre, The Curve, The Unicorn Theatre, and Derby Live. Nettie specialises in developing performance text through collaborative process, with a strong emphasis on working with young people through research and development, and in creating new writing for young people.
Nettie is Joint Artistic Director of Dragon Breath Theatre whose recent work for young people includes Gulliver ’s Travels (2011-12), Cosmos (2008-9), The Icarus Project (2006-7) and Dragon Breath (2003-4). Her work for Dragon Breath was exhibited at the Collaborators: UK Design for Performance 2003-2007 Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2007- 2008. The company’s performance and education work has been shortlisted for many prizes and disseminated internationally.
Nettie represented the UK at the Prague Quadrennial in 1999 with Best of Friends by Fiona Graham. Other recent design work includes Broken Hearted (Derby Live 2010), Loving April (Oxfordshire Touring 2010), His Dark Materials (Curve 2009) and Dream Play (Big Window 2011). She has worked extensively as a Creative Agent in schools, and is currently working in this capacity for Nottingham University and Papplewick Pumping Station Trust.
Arnim specialises in designing dynamic performance environments, blending lighting, video, photography and motion graphics. His lighting and projection designs have been seen not only in theatres around the world, but also in a zoo, a monastery, an abandoned pub and deep down in a cave.
Recent designs include Ghosts in the Wall (RSC); 42nd Street and Gypsy (Curve, Leicester); Ravenboy (Jacksons Lane) ; Fog (Finborough Theatre); Wander (Jockey Club Theatre Hong Kong and the National Holocaust Memorial Day); The Rememberers (Apple & Snakes); A Roof of Light (Coventry Cathedral’s Blitz commemoration); Lucky Seven (Hampstead Theatre; Looking for JJ (Pilot Theatre at the Unicorn); One Night in November (Belgrade Theatre Coventry); The Suicide and An Inspector Calls (Theatr Clwyd) The White Album (Nottingham Playhouse).
Kate wrote the music for the TV series of Grandpa in My Pocket and for The Ha Ha Hairies currently airing on Cartoonito. Other television credits include: Fflat Huw Puw, Sonandani and Let’s Pretend. She wrote the music for the recent series of Roald Dahl children’s stories for Penguin audiobooks.
Kate has written music and lyrics for 10 pantomimes at Salisbury Playhouse (all now published by Weinberger’s) and pantos at Watford Palace, Liverpool Everyman and the Belgrade, Coventry. Other composition credits include: Alice in Wonderland , (Regent’s Park); Doc Faust , (Forest Forge); Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots, (Theatre Royal Winchester); and Ali Baba, Sleeping Beauty, The Snow Queen, Pinocchio and Hansel and Gretel , (Theatre Royal Margate). She has written three musicals for children: Dragon Fire, Witchwood and Run, Rabbit, Run.
Kate has directed Doc Faust , (Forest Forge); Pump Boys and Dinettes , (New Vic, Stoke); Blues in the Night ; (Birmingham Rep and Oldham); Little Shop of Horrors , (York); Aladdin at Liverpool Everyman; six pantos at Salisbury Playhouse and the three family musicals for Theatre Royal Winchester.
Kate has been musical director for countless shows, including the Olivier Award-winning Return to the Forbidden Planet in the West End, on tour, and in Australia, New York, South Africa and Japan. Other West End includes: From a Jack to a King, Cabaret and The Threepenny Opera.
Matthew learnt the piano and the trumpet from an early age but only now is he grateful to his mother for forcing him to practise when he didn’t want to. Having graduated in music from Birmingham University in 1994, an opportunity arose to work for a well-known recording studio and he subsequently spent the rest of the 90′s recording mainly classical music with some of the finest orchestras. It was during this time he first met Mellie Buse for whom he wrote music for audio books such as Spot the Dog, Harry the Bucketful of Dinosaurs and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . When Grandpa in My Pocket began, Mellie suggested teaming up with co-writer Kate Edgar which turns out to have been a stroke of genius. Now, with 66 episodes of Granpda in my Pocket and 52 episodes of the Ha Ha Hairies, behind them, neither of them can imagine having done it alone! In between writing projects, Matthew continues to be in demand as a classical recording engineer and producer, most recently recording live concerts for Classic FM during the Diamond Jubilee.
Roman studied acting at the Drama Studio London, where he discovered mime as an exciting visual art form. This was complemented by his interest in another art form – puppetry, when he joined Polka Theatre for Children in London as an actor/puppeteer in 1980. Working and performing with shadow, rod, marionette and glove puppets, he developed his manipulation and mime skills, and later became associate director at Polka. More than 30 years on, Roman has enjoyed creating and directing over 80 productions there, working with many leading writers, including: Philip Pullman, Michael Rosen, Jacqueline Wilson and David Wood, in shows as well known as The Three Musketeers, The BFG, Frankenstein, Pinocchio and James and the Giant Peach, to name a few.
Roman’s skills in puppetry and mime led to him working with the Spitting Image company, as well as with the Jim Henson Organisation. He has performed in London’s West End and in the feature film The Bear , playing a grizzly bear in a £200,000 costume. He is still playing a bear-like character in a TV commercial for a certain cereal. Currently, Roman is directing the sequel to his internationally successful show Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play, which performed here at the Playhouse last year, and has now played to sold-out houses in Britain, Brazil, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.
Roman also teaches at drama colleges, including: ALRA, East 15, Drama Studio London, as well as giving masterclasses at the Actors’ Guild, Central School of Speech and Drama, and RADA.
Lawrence works as a director, movement director and actor. He was nominated for an Olivier Award for his work with Tony Harrison at the National Theatre. He has worked with the poet and playwright on all his site-specific theatre pieces since 1988. He received a Best Actor Award from the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post Northwest Arts Awards, and his co-written play Lives Worth Living is published by Heinemann.
His recent directing credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mendelssohn’s incidental music for the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Storytellers Theatre Company, and The Big Enormous Present for Pied Piper Theatre Company. Other directing work includes: Theatre Centre, Polka Theatre, Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company, London Bubble Theatre Company, CDS New York Agents Showcase, The Soldier’s Tale for the Orchestra of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, as well as several fringe companies. His work as a movement director includes: the National Theatre, NT Studio, Northern Broadsides, Hampstead Theatre, Tamasha Theatre Company and Bristol Old Vic.
His work as an actor includes small, middle and large-scale touring nationally and internationally, many of the regional repertory theatres throughout the UK, as well as the National Theatre, NT studio, Cheek by Jowl, the Young Vic and Northern Broadsides. He was an associate artist of Theatre Centre 1994–2007 and an associate director in 2001/2. He also directs and teaches in several UK drama schools.
Drew trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and is Deputy Head of Lighting and Sound at Nottingham Playhouse.
Drew’s previous sound designs include : Mary Shelley (Shared Experience); Umbrellas, Private Lives, Amy’s View, Twelfth Night, The Families of Lockerbie, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Forever Young, Blithe Spirit, Glamour, Vertigo, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Beast on the Moon and Aladdin(Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company); The Crossing (New Art Exchange); The Grandfathers (LYTX); Woyzeck, The Trial, Blood Wedding, The Visit, Find Me and Down in the Dumps (Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre ); West Side Story (Nottingham Operatic Society); Seance on a Sunday Afternoon, Empty Bed Blues and Smile (Lakeside Arts Centre); Thoroughly Modern Millie, Crazy for You (Carlton Operatic Society) and, as associate sound designer, Summer and Smoke (Apollo Theatre, London).
The answer was straightforward, clever and fun. All that was required was a mixture of lively and savvy acting, imaginative stagecraft and an audience more than willing to suspend disbelief.
Nottingham Playhouse itself is the driving force behind this first-ever stage show of the popular CBeebies hit and the hard work pays off in spectacular style.
From the off, this energetic musical is a delight for youngsters and parents alike. On TV it’s one of the shows the parents love and writers Mellie Buse and Jan Page know which buttons to press.
The accomplished cast, some of whom you’ll know from other children’s television programmes (none of Grandpa’s TV cast are here), generate an unquestioning response from the auditorium as if the audience was part of the show. Perfect.
The story is about the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. Grandpa has a magic cap which shrinks him to a matter of inches tall… and that’s where the adventures begin.
We see the townsfolk of Sunnysands tell stories of the family we love from TV – and they use the muse of a dressing up box to help tell stories of Jason, Grandpa and the famous family and friends.
This clever tactic easily gets around any worries around the audience matching cast with characters as the familiar clothes we see week-in week-out are vivid and instantly recognisable. The scenery is big, bold and ingenious at times – and we loved the use made of each seashore beach hut!
Of course, as it’s a magical show it’s all pretend and the recurring fantasy of a shrinking grandpa keeps the kids on the edge of their seats.
With singing, dancing, puppetry and participation the pace of the action seldom lets up..
Fresh, bright and funny, Grandpa in My Pocket – Teamwork! is so lovingly done that it feels like being warmed by the sun. Storytelling is at the heart of the show, with a versatile ensemble of six, a big hamper of seaside props and costumes, and different sized puppets to represent Grandpa and his incredible shrinking powers. He can hide anywhere – in a rucksack or even behind a jar of sweets.
The characters are endearing, from the dotty Aunt Loretta to the accident-prone Mr Whoops and the eager Mr Liker Biker. Not to mention Horatio, the bank manger who longs to be a proper, “roary” pirate. The interaction with the audience includes elements of panto, but what really shines out is the show’s integrity, its unforced jollity and the performers’ clear and easy rapport with the children watching.
Everything works in harmony, from Nettie Scriven’s inventive designs to Kate Edgar’s music. Javan Hughes plays Jason so naturally we forget this is an adult playing a child. An older boy in the audience, who has clearly been dragged along with younger siblings and is trying to look cool and hard, is, in the end, as involved as they are. That probably says it all.
The result is an energetic, witty, sharply acted performance that delights in its imagination and theatricality. The company drives the play along at a cracking pace; sometimes, perhaps, too cracking. It might be useful to vary the pace and give us all time to catch our breath or to let more beautiful moments (like the Bongle Birds’ slow motion theft of the Pirate’s key) to unveil the layering of the production.
The performing company pull off some neat doubles (and even triples) producing a range of larger-than-life characters, each one clearly marked out by broad, but (a)cutely observed physicality. These characters are clearly known to the young audience (which is a special delight for adults.) The performances are very strong, but, in particular, Javan Hughes (Jason Mason, the son) is outstanding; he has an honest naïveté in his performance that makes direct contact with us.
Lovely puppet work too, especially Grandpa in all his sizes. Songs aid the general sense of happiness; these are simple enough for the youngsters to remember (and perform in front of Nottingham’s Sky Mirror during the interval.) The whole world exists within Nettie Scriven’s sunny setting.
Currently performing at The Nottingham Playhouse is Grandpa In My Pocket: Teamwork – a stage adaptation of the very popular Cbeebies TV series designed for the under 6′s.
If you haven’t seen this fabulous TV programme (why ever not!) the basis for the story is the adventures that Jason gets up to with his Grandpa who has a shrinking cap that turns him into a miniature version of himself and able to get up to all kinds of mischief. They live in Sunnysands, a seaside town full of colourful characters, such as Mr Whoops and Mr Mentor the Inventor, who are all featured on the stage show. We are also introduced to Horatio (above with Great Aunt Loretta) a bank manager who secretly wants to be a pirate.
The show captures the essence of the series perfectly. It comprises of six actors taking on the roles of one, two or even three different characters during the performance. Very cleverly it doesn’t try to reproduce the TV show on stage instead it invents a show the audience feels part of with the actors pretending to be the characters using a dressing up basket full of familiar items from the show. This combined with great acting, singing and plenty of audience involvement keeps old and young alike entranced.
The creators, writers and stage adaptors, Mellie Buse and Jan Page, chose the Playhouse to put on the show as it was recommended as having a good approach to new work and working well as collaborators, particularly in the area of young people’s theatre. They found that the enthusiasm at the Playhouse was instant and they made a great team. The play is directed by Rosamunde Hutt, returning to Nottingham having previously directed Mike Kenny’s The Gardener and Peter Rumney’s Dragon Breath.
It is a great two hours entertainment to keep children amusing during the long summer holidays – don’t miss it!
Grandpa in my Pocket, for anyone who doesn’t have a child five or under, is a show in which the main plot relates to the adventures of a young lad, Jason Mason, and his grandpa – played by James Bolam – who happens to own a “magical shrinking cap”, which, when he puts on his head, causes him to shrink to, well, pocket size.
The show didn’t star any of the cast from the TV show, however to avoid this confusion among any children the cast explained at the beginning that they would be dressing up as their favourite residents of Sunnysands – the location of the show.
So we were introduced to the main characters, Jason, his parents and sister, the irritating, yet brilliantly played, Aunt Loretta, Mr Mentor the inventor, Mr Whoops the toy shop owner, Ho Ho Ho Horatio the bank manager-cum-pirate and of course grandpa.
This was a fun show, split into to acts of around an hour each it told the story of the group deciding to go in search of some missing treasure and we were treated to the usual laughs that the kids so enjoy from the show – mainly courtesy of Mr Whoops – who as his name suggests is rather clumsy, or Aunt Loretta. The heart of this story however, like the show, is the relationship between Jason and his grandpa which is performed as well in the stage show as it is on TV 0 and of course as the two main characters like to say, it’s all down to “Teamwork”.
The whole “shrinking” was brilliantly handled with a series of puppets that scaled down, and there was plenty of interaction with the crowd, which the kids loved.
This was the first time the show had been brought to stage, and the Playhouse team have done a fine job of turning a hugely popular TV show into a very enjoyable play, that even many of the adults seemed to enjoy – while the kids loved it.
Rather than end this review with my thoughts I thought I would ask my two boys what they thought of the show, to which they both answered at the same time: “It was wicked.”
Nottingham Playhouse is one of the UK’s leading regional producing theatres with a strong commitment to produce work that engages families and young people. Previous productions have included David Walliams’ Mr Stink, a co-production with KW & NB Ltd, Curve Leicester and Hackney Empire and Tracey Beaker Gets Real (National Tour). They regularly collaborate with high profile companies such as Liverpool Playhouse, Shared Experience, Headlong Theatre Company, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, Teatro Kismet and Steven Berkoff’s East Productions. Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company productions have been presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, London’s West End, the Spoleto Festival USA, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas (Connecticut) and the Hong Kong Arts Festival.