Caroline Wigmore and Jen Green, co-directors of Golden Toad Theatre talk to us about their collaboration with West End stars, Courtney Stapleton (Six) and Joe Griffiths-Brown (Hamilton), encouraging children to engage in theatre through song, dance, and a little bit of gardening.
With their touring musical stage adaptation of Errol’s Garden on hiatus until 2021, the company are keen to still use Gillian Hibbs’ award-winning book to help children’s creativity bloom with exciting and educational content.
Golden Toad Theatre is getting green fingered with some West End stars, tell us about your latest project?
Errol’s Garden is a new musical adaptation of Gillian Hibb’s gorgeous and award-winning children’s book about a boy who lives in a flat and dreams of having his own garden. The show was meant to be in theatres this summer, and for obvious reasons that’s not happening now (but please do keep an eye on our website – subject to government guidance we’ll be touring in 2021!) While we wait for theatre to re-open, we’re inviting children from across the UK to join West End stars Joe Griffiths-Brown & Courtney Stapleton to sing in Errol’s new music video. All you need to do is pop on a pair of headphones, press record, and then send your file to us at goldentoadtheatre.com
We also want to see what children across the UK have been growing – if you put photos or drawings of your favourite plants online and tag us @goldentoadtheatre we will include them in Errol’s music video!
What inspired you to create this project?
We both have young kids, and we know how hard lockdown has been for children, parents, and carers. We wanted to give families an opportunity to engage with their creativity and imagination, even though theatres are closed. The seed of inspiration for a music video actually came from Jen’s son – his primary school concert was cancelled because of lockdown and all the kids were really upset; they love singing together. Some parents compiled recordings of them singing individually, and it was brilliant. We realised that we could do that on a nationwide level, and everything started from there!
Why was it important to you to still create this work with your tour of Errol’s Garden on hiatus?
Creative activities of all kinds help kids understand, express and release their feelings – and as all parents will know, there have been some very extreme emotions over the last few months. By creating a series of free activities that can be done from the safety of their own homes, we want to help children engage with their creativity and encourage their talents, as well as creating a sense of community and achievement for children across the UK through Errol’s music video.
You’ll be working with Courtney Stapleton and Joe Griffiths-Brown, how did they get involved?
It’s been absolutely brilliant having Joe and Courtney involved with the project. They were both really enthusiastic about the show’s themes of community and urban gardening, and it’s been wonderful hearing them bring Errol and Tia to life. Also, I think we may have sold them on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a gangsta snail…
Why do you think musical theatre and gardening will make a perfect combination for youngsters this summer?
We’re yet to find a child (or adult for that matter!) who doesn’t enjoy either singing or watching something they have planted grow. All our online activities are completely free to access, and in addition to the chance to sing in Errol’s new music video, we have lots of creative activities for children on our website , from animated videos where Errol will help you plant a seed in your own decorated pot or make an origami flower, to time capsules and competitions.
What are you looking forward to most about watching the submissions?
We love seeing the natural creativity of children flourish. However much you think your submission will be like everyone else’s, it isn’t – each recording and picture is unique in a totally brilliant way. We can’t wait to edit them all together into our final music video!