The Gruffalo Comes to Mercury Theatre

by | Jun 29, 2024 | Theatre

Celebrating twenty-five years in 2024 since The Gruffalo was first published, audiences are invited to join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood as Tall Stories bring their magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler to the Mercury Theatre, Colchester this autumn from 27 – 29 September.

The live production of The Gruffalo by the internationally acclaimed theatre company, Tall Stories premiered in the UK in 2001 and has been touring successfully around the world ever since. Tall Stories create lively, interactive theatrical experiences with physical storytelling style and original music. Their celebrated production of The Gruffalo has been performed in 16 countries and 5 continents – including ten West End seasons, twice at Sydney Opera House, twice on Broadway, and once at the National Theatre. It has been translated into five languages (German, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and isiXhosa).

The Gruffalo was first published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 23rd March 1999 and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The acclaimed picture book is the winner of numerous awards including the Nestle Smarties Book Prize Gold Award, Blue Peter Book Award and has sold over 13.5 million copies worldwide and been translated in over 57 different languages. It was voted the Nation’s Favourite Bedtime Story by BBC Radio 2 poll and in summer 2023, a survey found that The Gruffalo is the first book read by parents to one in eight children in the UK. The BAFTA-nominated animated film adaptation of the book was watched by an audience of 10 million on BBC One on Christmas Day.

Toby Mitchell, Tall Stories Artistic Director and Co-founder said: “I first read The Gruffalo when it was published in 1999, whilst working as an editor for Macmillan Children’s Books, and I instantly fell in love with it. The story, the text and the illustrations are fantastic – in both senses of the word. Tall Stories were quick to ask Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler if we could adapt it for the stage, and we were thrilled when they said yes. We were even more thrilled when the book started to win awards – as it turned out that other people loved The Gruffalo as much as we did. Fast forward and now the book is celebrating 25 years, and our stage adaptation is following closely behind, clocking up 23 years of successful touring since 2001.”

Casting for The Gruffalo at Mercury Theatre, Colchester includes David Scotland as The Gruffalo, Elouise Warboys as Mouse, Kemi Clake as Fox, Owl & Snake and Cameron Baker-Stewart as the understudy.

Julia Donaldson CBE says: “Tall Stories Theatre Company’s production of The Gruffalo has been successfully running nearly as long as the book has been in the world and many thousands of children have now enjoyed the story in this different way. Live productions are such an important experience as they allow children to engage with the characters who leap off the page in front of their very eyes, igniting their imaginations and creating lasting memories.”

Axel Scheffler says: “It is wonderful to have Tall Stories’ stage play of The Gruffalo touring during this special 25th anniversary year. The book absolutely comes to life on the stage. It is the perfect introduction to the experience of live theatre, and I hope it can be the start of a lifelong relationship with the arts.”

Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the high-spirited Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there?


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