Emily Lim directs the world premiere of the snaptastic musical extravaganza, The Enormous Crocodile, featuring a menagerie of puppets, toe-tapping tunes and mischievous audience interaction.
The Enormous Crocodile premieres to brave young audiences in the Courtyard theatre at Leeds Playhouse from 2 December to 6 January. Elliotte Williams-N’Dure (she/her) (Ursula, Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch) stars as the hungry Crocodile searching for a delicious child to snap up for dinner.
This wildly exciting musical based on Roald Dahl’s wickedly funny The Enormous Crocodile will bring instantly unforgettable music, world-class puppetry and enormous fun to audiences in Leeds this winter and at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in summer 2024.
You’re directing Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile, what can you tell us about this new show?
From the very beginning, our biggest hope for this show has been to create a massive joy explosion for everyone who comes to see it – something that our audiences, young and old alike, want to join in with. It’s full of brilliant songs, amazing dancing, silly jokes, ridiculous things like singing frogs and dancing coconut trees, and lots of suitably enormous puppets!
As we’ve developed the story and the characters, we’ve talked a lot about the beautiful, wild energy children bring when they’re playing really hard. We wanted to create a world and an experience defined by this spirit of fun and play – it’s been an amazing mission to be a part of!
What was it about this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story that made you want to be part of the production?
I loved the book as a child and have loved reading it to my own children as an adult, so it was a huge treat to be asked to reimagine it for the theatre. I love making theatre that’s for everyone, that brings people together to experience collective joy and imagine wild, impossible things – like enormous child-eating crocodiles and roly poly birds!
I’m a huge fan of Suhayla (El-Bushra, Book & Lyrics), Ahmed (Abdullahi Gallab, Music) and Tom’s (Brady, Music Supervisor) work, so the opportunity to collaborate with them as a writing team has been a real highlight. And it’s really special for me to be able to make a show that my own children, aged 2 and 6, will be able to enjoy. They’ve been very involved as our first audience members and earliest (harshest!) critics.
Why do you think Roald Dahl’s work remains so popular, especially on stage?
His storytelling is completely brilliant. He creates these amazing, unexpected storylines with such colourful characters and the perfect balance of humour and heart. His language is a lot of fun to deliver live onstage – working it into song lyrics has been a great challenge! He never patronises or talks down to his young audience, which is something we’ve really tried to honour. He really respects how much children understand about the world and what they’re capable of. And he gets right to the heart of what it is to be a child, including how, as children, we relate to adults. I think this is partly why so many of us find ourselves returning to his stories as we get older.
Tell us a little about the cast you’ve assembled?
We’ve got the most brilliant, huge hearted and multi-talented cast – they all sing, dance, act AND know how to make a puppet come to life, whether it’s a frog or a plate of pasta! I really believe that children’s theatre deserves the same amount of investment, quality and care as any other type of theatre. This cast are the perfect example of that: they’ve worked so hard and poured so much energy, love and expertise into the show to create an experience we hope stays with our audiences for a long time.
It will play in Leeds this winter before transferring to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in the summer, how are you approaching that as a director?
We’re building the show for Leeds in the first instance but keeping a close eye on how we’ll need to adapt the staging and design to accommodate the outdoor setting next year. Having the chance to use the backdrop of Regent’s Park as our jungle is very exciting!
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see The Enormous Crocodile?
Book, book, book! We know you’ll leave the theatre with a massive smile on your face and some seriously catchy tunes in your head, and you’ll have helped us to sizzle the enormous crocodile up like a sausage. What else would you rather do this Christmas?!