You have to be brave to take on a classic like Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo and adapt it for the stage. Children, especially under fives, can be a tough crowd.
Luckily the trio of performers at the Lyric Theatre’s production of The Gruffalo know their stuff and quickly won over the audience of minis and their grown-ups with a madcap mix of comedy, song and dance.
The well-thumbed tale of the mouse in the deep, dark wood comes wonderfully to life in this show by Tall Stories, with a clever girl Mouse and two male actors switching roles as Narrator, Fox, Owl, Snake and of course, the Gruffalo.
So how do you string a bedtime story into a one-hour performance? Cram it with catchy musical numbers and zany characterisation, of course.
I loved the transformation of the story’s Owl into a flight squadron leader and Snake totally steals the limelight as a slithery Lothario, all spangly bandanna and shaking maracas.
There’s plenty of audience interaction and it’s a joy to see how caught up the pre-school crowd is in the adventure, calling out lines they know by heart.
He’s got a very big roar but when the legendary beast finally makes his appearance, he’s more cuddly than scary, so there were cries of laughter rather than screams of terror from the pre-school crowd.
By the time old Wart Nose clambers off the stage and into the audience on his escape from the ‘terrifying Mouse’, my 2-year-old was bouncing on my lap excitedly and my 5-year-old was literally busting a gut.
The Gruffalo Live is a warm festive treat that rounds off with a magical snow shower and a rousing encore. Altogether now, Gr-Gr-Gr-Gruffalo!
Updated 2016: The Gruffalo runs until Jan 8, 2017 at Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, WC2 (Piccadilly Circus tube), tickets from £14.50