3…2…1… Blast Off! Edinburgh Festival Fringe audiences will have the chance to experience an explosively funny space adventure as David Walliams’ stage adaptation of The First Hippo on the Moon touches down in Edinburgh this August.
Following a hugely successful 2016 Fringe run with Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass and fresh from an incredibly successful UK tour, The First Hippo on the Moon which has been adapted for stage by award winning theatre company Les Petits.
The fantastical adventure features puppetry, music, mayhem and a giant space race to the moon! Suitable for ages three and up the show provides an uproarious escapade the whole family will relish and delight in.
The production is based on David Walliams’ original children’s book with illustrations by Tony Ross, The First Hippo on the Moon is a hilarious and extraordinary space adventure which sees the enormously rich Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III and ingenious Shelia compete to be the first hippo to make it to the moon. The First Hippo on the Moon tells the tale of the importance of team work and dreaming big.
David Walliams has taken the literary world by storm and his brilliantly funny stories are adored by children the world over. He has achieved unprecedented critical acclaim and quickly developed a reputation as a natural successor to Roald Dahl. His books have been translated into over 45 languages and sold over 9.5 million copies in the UK alone. One of his most successful titles Gangsta Granny was adapted for the stage in November 2015 by Birmingham Stage Company and continued on tour until January 2017.
The production has been adapted for the stage by Les Enfants Terribles and Les Petits’ Artistic Director Oliver Lansley whose recent adaptations have included the immersive dining experience Dinner at the Twits and Olivier nominated Alice’s Adventure’s Underground. The puppets for The First Hippo on the Moon have been directed and designed by Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell who have previously collaborated on Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax at The Old Vic and the National Theatre’s productions of Elephantom, War Horse and Raymond Briggs’ The Bear. Les Petits was set up as the sister company to Les Enfants Terribles whose work includes The Game’s Afoot, The Terrible Infants and The Trench.
Shelia is the protagonist of The First Hippo on the Moon. Her dream is to the first hippo in space and she is helped to achieve her wish by her group of animal friends Keith the giraffe, Scratch and Sniff the Porcupines and Derek the Ostrich. After an epic space race, she beats her old hipposchool friend Hercules to it and becomes the first hippo on the moon.
Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III is the antagonist of The First Hippo on the Moon. He is enormously rich hippo who paid for a gigantic Hippo Space Centre to be built to send him into space. He arrives on the moon just after Shelia, and she returns to Earth in his rocket.
Derek is an ostrich, often pessimistic about the scientific implications of building a rocket and flying it into space. We learn about Derek’s sadness in finding out that ostriches can’t fly. This spurs him on to helping Sheila in chasing her dream.
Scratch and Sniff are a porcupine double act. They are talented with power tools, and can even rub their porcupine quills together to make fire.
Keith is a kind hearted giraffe. He helps Shelia on her quest to become the first hippo on the moon by using his extremely long neck to keep a look out.
Silver Bob is a big hairy gorilla who first appears to Sheila as a disembodied voice in the jungle. He offers wisdom and enlightenment to Sheila, and loves to talk in mystical monkey metaphors. Bob educates Sheila in the best way to fuel a rocket (with poo), all in the fashion of a big song and dance routine.
DAVID WALLIAMS – WRITER OF THE BOOK
David Walliams is one of Britain's most popular writers and comic actors.
As a children's author David is one of the most popular writers for children today selling over 11 million books around the world. His books have been translated into over 45 languages. The World’s Worst Children, his first collection of short stories, is a number one bestseller across all books having sold over 250,000 copies in 7 weeks. Grandpa’s Great Escape, his latest novel, was the overall number one and remained at the top of the charts for four weeks having sold over 700,000 copies to date. Awful Auntie has now sold over 657,000 copies and was the biggest selling book, across all categories, published in 2014. It also won both the National Book Awards ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ and ‘Audiobook of the Year’.
Little Britain, which he co-created with Matt Lucas, started on Radio 4 and soon progressed to BBC1. The show has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs, and now plays in over 100 countries. Little Britain Live performed to a million people in the UK, Ireland and Australia. David and Matt followed Little Britain with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series Come Fly With Me.
David has proved himself as a dramatic actor in BBC2's Capturing Mary with Dame Maggie Smith, in BBC1's Agatha Christie series Partners In Crime, as Frankie Howerd in the biopic Rather You Than Me for BBC4, and on the stage in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land starring alongside Sir Michael Gambon. He received the Comedy Award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his performance as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Michael Grandage.
His film credits also include The Look of Love, directed by Michael Winterbottom, Great Expectations directed by Mike Newell, Dinner For Schmucks with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd and directed by Jay Roach, Run Fat Boy Run directed by David Schwimmer and starring Simon Pegg, and Stardust directed by Matthew Vaughn.
Currently David is writing a screenplay for Dreamworks Animation with the director Edgar Wright.
Since 2012 David has appeared as himself as a judge alongside Simon Cowell on one of the biggest shows on TV, Britain's Got Talent.
David is proud to be a trustee of Comic Relief, a charity he has personally raised over £7m for.
TONY ROSS – ILLUSTRATOR OF THE BOOK
Born in London, Tony Ross went to art school in Liverpool and has since worked as a typographer for design and advertising agencies. His cartoons have appeared in famous publications the world over. His first book Hugo and the Wicked Winter was published in 1972. Tony has since written over 100 books and illustrated over 2000!
David and Tony’s other two picture books together, The Slightly Annoying Elephant and The Bear Who Went Boo! were both number one bestsellers. David and Tony have also worked together on six of David’s phenomenally successful children’s novels – Billionaire Boy, Gangsta Granny, Ratburger, Demon Dentist, Awful Auntie and Grandpa’s Great Escape.
LES PETITS – THEATRE COMPANY
Award-winning children’s theatre company Les Petits was established in 2013 as the children’s arm of critically acclaimed parent company Les Enfants Terribles (ALICE’S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND, THE TRENCH, THE TERRIBLE INFANTS, THE VAUDEVILLIANS). Using well-known and loved children’s literature, we aim to take stories from the page and bring them to life on the stage in creative and exciting ways.
The company is run by James Seager and Oliver Lansley and has become known for its striking design aesthetics, use of puppetry and song and immersive approach to storytelling.
Les Petits’ work includes the hugely successful ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, an immersive experience for children aged 5 – 10 years, currently playing at The Vaults, Waterloo this summer.
Les Petits is also known for their adaptions of CAPTAIN FLINN AND THE PIRATE DINOSAURS based on the popular book by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto. FLINN has toured to venues across the UK between 2012 and 2015, won the Primary Times Award and had runs at the Underbelly at The Edinburgh Fringe and Queen Elizabeth Hall at The Southbank Centre as well as touring abroad to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
OLIVER LANSLEY – ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF LES PETITS / WRITER
As well as a founder of Les Petits, Oliver is an actor, writer, director and Artistic Director of Les Enfants Terribles, which he founded in 2002.
As an actor he’s best known for playing Kenny Everett in the BAFTA-winning The Best Possible Taste which earned him a Best Actor nomination at the RTS Awards. Other credits include The Wrong Mans, Sherlock and Misfits.
Oliver’s first published play Immaculate was listed in the top ten best-selling plays at Samuel French London in 2010, other published works include Les Enfants Terribles: Collected Plays, Flies and The Infant. Oliver has since seen his work produced all over the world and translated into several languages.
LET’s work includes The Terrible Infants, The Trench, Earnest and the Pale Moon, The Vaudevillians and most recently, the Olivier Award nominated Alice’s Adventure’s Underground – Oliver writes and is directly involved in all aspects of the company's output, often also as Director.
A past winner of Channel Four’s Multi-Talented Award and also a Broadcast magazine Hotshot. Oliver co-created BBC 2 series Whites, and Rose d'Or nominated ITV2 series FM. He has written on numerous other productions including Nick Frost series Mr Sloane, Rotters starring Comedy Award Winners Dr Brown, Sam Simmons, Jon Kearns and Frank Skinner; and Alan Davies’s Little Cracker for Sky, which he also directed.
He's currently developing new television projects for HBO, FX and the BBC.
NICK BARNES – DIRECTOR AND DESIGNER
Nick is a puppet designer and maker. He studied drama at Hull University and theatre design at the Slade School of Fine Art. Whilst at the Slade he won a scholarship to travel to France and train with Philippe Genty at the International Institute of the Marionette. There he became fascinated by bunraku style human puppets and in particular the interaction between puppet and puppeteer.
In 1996 he founded Blind Summit Theatre, and was the co-artistic director for many years. During that time he performed, designed and directed for the company. Productions include The Table, Low Life, Martin’s Wedding, 1984, and Mr China’s Son. The company also created the puppetry for Madame Butterfly, (ENO, Metropolitan Opera), Shunkin, A Dog’s Heart, The Master and Margarita (Complicite), Faeries (ROH Covent Garden), Kommilitonen! (Royal Academy of Music), El Gato Con Botas (Tectonic Theatre) and His Dark Materials (Birmingham Rep). In 2012 Blind Summit directed the puppetry in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Nick left the company in 2013 and remains an associate artist.
Nick now works as a freelance puppet designer, director and maker. Projects with Finn include The Lorax (Old Vic, London), and Ariodante (Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, DNO), for which he was co-puppet designer and Running Wild (Chichester Festival Theatre/Regents Park) for which he was associate puppet designer. He is an associate artist of Gyre and Gimble. Other recent puppetry work includes a giant firebird for the BBC proms and puppet design/direction for Mr Popper’s Penguin’s (Kenny Wax Ltd).
FINN CALDWELL – DIRECTOR AND DESIGNER
Finn is a director, designer and performer; he is co-artistic director of Gyre & Gimble, a theatre company specialising in puppetry.
As director of puppetry and movement, Finn’s work in theatre includes Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Old Vic), The Bear (Puppetry Director - Pins & Needles), Running Wild (Regents Park Open Air and Chichester Festival Theatre), The Tempest (Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alice’s Adventures Underground and Adventures in Wonderland (Les Enfants Terribles), Ariodante (Festival d'Aix-en-Provence), The Light Princess (NT), War Horse (NT, West End & internationally), Dream Space (Globe Theatre), Rubies in the Attic (Riverside Studios), Shrek: The Musical (West End), Climate (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and Edinburgh Fringe First Award winner Tom Thumb (Edinburgh Festival & tour).
As a director Finn’s work includes Lardo (Old Red Lion) and The Elephantom (Co-director - NT & West End). As a performer he has appeared in Saint Joan, War Horse, Or You Could Kiss Me and Punchdrunk's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (all National Theatre), Hamlet and Julius Caesar (RSC), Complicite's A Dog’s Heart (La Scala), Blind Summit's Lowlife (LIMF), Madam Butterfly (ENO), Brighton Rock (Almeida), Elephant (BAC), Antigone (Old Vic), and Macbeth (Albery). Films include Alice and The Suicide Brothers. His upcoming work includes the new musical production The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic) and additional movement direction on the new musical Groundhog Day (Old Vic Theatre).
Les Petits presents
David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon
Venue: Pleasance Beyond, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017
Dates: Wed 2 August – Sun 20 August, (not 15th), 12pm
Aug 2, 3, 4 £7
Aug 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 £12 (£10.50)
Aug 9, 10, 16, 17 £11 (£9.50)
Aug 14 £9 (£7.50)
Running time: 60mins
Tickets available at www.edfringe.com or www.pleasance.co.uk
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