What the Ladybird Heard is on a UK-wide tour following its West End success last summer. Adapted from Julia Donaldson’s and Lydia Monks’ much-loved book, What the Ladybird Heard, is an adventure with original songs, live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and lots of laughs. We chatted to the company of What the Ladybird Heard to find out about the show, touring and what goes on behind the scenes!
What character do you play and what attracted you to the role?
Emma C: I get to play Lily who works on the farm and the Ladybird! The Ladybird is the smallest and quietest creature on the farm but she is also the smartest. She leads the animals and they work together to foil the robbers plan to steal the fine prize cow. It shows you don’t need to be loud or big and tall to be valuable and important. I was attracted to the role because I love being part of an ensemble cast.
Emma B: I play the role of the farmer. I think it’s exciting to play a male part as a woman because it involves new challenges like how I move on stage, how I walk, what I do with my voice etc. I also just love bringing a character to life from a famous children’s book as the children’s responses are always very rewarding! I liked actor-musician element of the part It meant I had to pick up a violin for the first time in my life!
Edd: I play two roles, Hefty Hugh and a farm hand called Eddy. The robbers Hugh and Len are quite like the baddies in Home Alone and I thought it would be really fun to play! I love working in children’s theatre, because I think it’s so important that children have the opportunity to see live entertainment.
Ben: I play two characters: Raymond, a humble theatre usher who gets drawn into the action, and Lanky Len, a vertically endowed cow thief. Raymond is painfully shy and only communicates in high-pitched gibberish and has a knack for hilarious misunderstandings. Lanky Len had five growth-spurts when he was young, which
Emma ED: I am the Company Stage Manager for this show, which means it’s my job to build the show, focus the lights and run the sound for each of our shows in all our touring venues. I also look after the company while away from home, making sure they are happy, comfortable and safe. It is a lot of schedules and paperwork but having everything run smoothly is such a satisfying feeling. I was attracted to the role as I loved the controlled chaos that is the backstage area – it is a show in itself sometimes
Will: I understudy Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len. Lanky Len is a little slow and tries to please whilst Hugh’s tenacity and frustration with Len makes for a great comedy duo. It really takes me back to my childhood.
What is the best story you’ve been told about the theatres you’ve visited?
Will: After we left Nottingham we were told that there is a Ghost which haunts the Theatre Royal! They didn’t tell us while we were there! We keep thinking back to if we saw any ghostly figures lurking!
What is your favourite part of the show?
Emma C: The moment I love the most is when I get to play the beautiful Ladybird theme on the flute and she flies around the stage. It brings together lighting, design, music and performance to bring one of the illustrations to life.
Edd: My favourite part of the show is the Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh’s song, Tools of the Trade, it’s hard and tiring, but the audience always love it!
Will: I love it when the robbers’ plan gets foiled and the farmer wakes up and I (as the policeman) cart them off to jail.
Emma B: The end! But not for the reasons you might think – we come together as a company and play some great music, sing and dance, and get the whole audience on its feet, being silly. It’s great fun!
Which is your favourite animal in the show and why?
Emma ED: My favourite animal in the show would have to be the cats, I really like how cheeky they are sometimes and their terrible puns are something you can’t help but laugh at!
Ben: Raymond has a rather close tie with the hairy hog. I think he identifies with him because they’re both quite big and clumsy, they both get overlooked by people, but they’re both smart and just want to have fun.
Emma B: My favourite animal would have to be my fine prize cow! As the farmer she is my most prized possession and the audience always gasps with amazement when she appears from her stable. That is always an exciting moment on stage.
Which is your favourite song in the show and why?
Emma ED: My favourite song in the show is Tools for the Trade with Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, I think the mix of dancing the witty lyrics are just brilliant.
Emma B: My favourite song is definitely Feeding Time. I love the way it gets faster and faster and i think singing in canon is very effective. I have to run around a lot in this song to make sure I feed all my animals, and this keeps me very fit! We also have to make sure we keep the food away from the pesky hog who will eat anything it can find!
Emma C: The show closes with an exciting song that the audience can join in with as all the cast sing and play instruments. After we have all been singing and dancing together everyone shouts HOORAY! It is wonderful that all the children and grown-ups celebrate together and everyone looks so happy!
What should families expect from the show?
Edd: Families coming to the show can expect fun, chaos, colour and songs. The children with love the story they know so well, and parents will enjoy the framework in which we tell it.
Emma ED: Families should expect a lot of fun with this show. The creativity, the music and the lyrics are brilliant! and the happiness of the cast performing onstage is hard to miss!
Ben: I think families should expect the unexpected from this show. Whether you’re five or fifty, this show has something that will make you smile, laugh and think. You wouldn’t believe the number of grown-ups who come out the theatre humming the songs, quoting the quotes, and giggling just as much as their kids.
Emma C: The book is beloved and I hope the audience enjoy seeing it come to life. They should expect lots of animal noises, music, humour and farmyard fun!