Interview: Jennifer Sutherland, Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales

Jennifer Sutherland is co-founder of Scamp Theatre, the multi award-winning team that brought us West End hit Stick Man: Live on Stage. In 2016, she launched a new company, Freckle Productions, whose focus is on bringing inspirational stories to the stage for children, young people and families.

“Freckle started in 2016 after the co-founders of Scamp decided after many happy years of working together, that we wanted to pursue our own projects,” Jennifer explains. “Freckle gathered its skirts, bought some chickens, acquired an extra dog and a lost cat and set off to tell stories, big and small.”

And they’re doing just that at Leicester Square Theatre this summer, with the return of Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales – a live stage show featuring four of the most loved books from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler: Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, A Squash and a Squeeze and The Smartest Giant in Town. All four books are brought to life through puppetry, music and a host of adorable characters.

Former Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and internationally acclaimed illustrator Axel Scheffler are the team behind countless popular children’s books, among them The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom, as well as Stick Man and the stories featured in Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales. “As co-founder and director of Scamp Theatre, I was fortunate enough to be approached by Julia herself after she saw two of our other shows,” says Jennifer. “She loved the productions and wanted to know if we could bring any of her books to the stage. We were only too pleased to work with her – who wouldn’t be!”

Photo credit: Robin Savage

So is this just a show for kids? “Yes! No! Maybe!” debates Jennifer. “Of course, children do love it – these are their stories after all and they feel they own them and know them, but they’re not just for children. The production is full of wit, charm and storytelling – suitable for any age.

“What one word would we like our audiences to use to describe the show…? Magical! Or amazing! Can I have two?”

As Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales returns to the West End for a two-month run, Jennifer and the team are excited to share their own enthusiasm for these irresistible stories with new audiences. “Firstly, it is lovely to be back at Leicester Square Theatre,” she says. “It’s such a welcoming venue for everyone, the audience and everyone who works on the show. It’s also great to see the smiling faces of the audience as they leave the show every day. 

“Come and see some of your favourite books brought to life! Children know these stories and these characters and they love seeing them brought to life. But there’s another reason too – something magical happens in a theatre when you have one group of people telling another a tale they love so much.”

Photo credit: Robin Savage

And what of Freckle Productions’ future plans? “Well, Freckle is still producing Tiddler and also co-producing Stick Man: Live on Stage with Scamp,” says Jennifer. “However we are excited to be developing some bigger projects in the future. Scamp started as a perfectly formed smaller scale theatre company – Freckle is going to be creating some much larger work with some exciting artist collaborations in the future. Watch this space!”

Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales is at the Leicester Square Theatre until 3rd September.

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