Justin Audibert will direct Tiajna Amayo, Kanoumah Diguet, Sam Pay, Rhys Rusbatch and Samuel Tracy in The Three Billy Goats Gruff, this uplifting, toe-tapping new musical from award-winning composers Stiles and Drewe for ages 3 – 6 years old.
Baby, Middle and Big are three very hungry goats, and there is absolutely no grass left to eat on their side of the valley. Together with Little Bo-Frilly they hatch a plan to cross the bridge to the lush green grass on the other side, they just need to outwit that horrible tricksy troll first.
Featuring music and lyrics by the Olivier award-winning Stiles and Drewe (Mary Poppins, Honk!), this Easter come and step into the magical, fairy-tale world of The Three Billy Goats Gruff in this perfect first musical for young families.
You’re directing The Three Billy Goats Gruff at the Unicorn, what can you tell us about this production?
There are three exceedingly mischievous goats, a caring but forgetful goatherder called Little Bo Frilly and a very hungry, goat-obsessed, bridge dwelling Troll. Those naughty goats have got to get to the other side of the valley to eat some fresh grass but the Troll who patrols the bridge is very very interested in getting himself some fresh goat meat for his dinner.
It’s a simple story but told on James Button’s gorgeous neon infused set, lit by the brilliant Sam Waddington, with the dynamic choreography of Shanelle ‘Tali’ Fergus and all underpinned by luscious and eclectic score that Stiles and Drewe have gifted us.
What was it about this Stiles and Drewe Musical that made you keen to work on it?
The songs in The Three Billy Goats Gruff are incredibly varied in their influences- encompassing classic Broadway showtunes, a hip-hop goat anthem, a 90s club aerobics inspired banger and a Barry White-esque soulful love ode to the pleasures of eating goats that we have just had a blast finding the choreographic and performance language to tell this story.
Thankfully Stiles and Drewe are just the consummate storytelling professionals and so the music and the lyrics are always pushing the story forward. They have given us such a strong framework to build a show from and they also have so much experience and wisdom to impart that having their input has just been a wonderful learning experience for me and the entire team.
What’s the biggest challenge in directing a musical aimed at 3-6 year olds?
I think trying to get the balance between the Troll being scary enough that there is real jeopardy in the story but not so scary that it frightens the children has been the key challenge. Thankfully Rhys Rusbatch who plays him is such a sensitive performer and natural clown that he has found a wonderful way of walking that line perfectly so that the children are just a teeny bit excitedly scared but still having the time of their lives.
And why do you think this would be a perfect first musical for young families?
The music is just so uplifting and so joyful that it really does have something for everyone- plus there are plenty of cracking jokes for the parents too – what’s not to love about a Prince inspired Troll singing about his problematic love of eating goats?
Tell us a little more about the cast, and what you’re enjoying about working with them?
Sam T, Sam P, Kanoumeh, Tiajna and Rhys have formed a really tight ensemble. We have had a rehearsal process where it is all about the best idea for the story being the one that makes it into the show regardless of whoever came up with it.
They can all act, sing and dance with flair – we have five serious triple threats. On top of all this they are just lovely too. We have giggled ourselves silly all the way to opening. Additionally I have personally have learnt so much collaborating with our fantastic Musical Director Sam Wilson and our sound designer Yvonne Gilbert. It’s been a delight from beginning to end and I am so chuffed that this is the swansong – or should I say goatsong – of my tenure at the magical beast that is the Unicorn Theatre.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see The Three Billy Goats Gruff?
It’s 55 minutes of non-stop theatrical exuberance with wonderful songs, high octane dancing, some very funny gags and a design that is an all-round dazzling assault on the senses. It’s got the feel of a rock concert for 3-7 year olds and what could be better than that this Easter?
The Three Billy Goats Gruff, directed by Justin Audibert, is at the Unicorn Theatre until 23rd April