Noddy in Toyland, a musical, featuring the Enid Blyton character, is on from today

Remember Noddy, the little wooden boy who drives a taxi in Toyland? Well the exciting news is he is coming to town. Fever Entertainment with The Hindu brings the live production show Noddy in Toyland all the way from U.K. today. With his blue hat, his friends Big Ears and Bumpy Dog and his adversaries Mr. Plod and the naughty goblins, Noddy has been a jolly companion through summer holidays. Enid Blyton’s Noddy debuted in 1949 with the book Noddy goes to Toyland. Twenty-four books were published till 1964. Noddy has continued to thrive across media in television shows and as a play. Nick George, the Director of Premier Stage Productions, wrote and directed Noddy in Toyland based on an episode of the Noddy in Toyland television series and adapted for the stage.

George, who has written many shows for classic children’s characters, says “This production for India is directed by Paul Winterford, who also plays the role of Sly the Goblin within the show. Paul is a very experienced performer, having trained at the famous Guildford School of Acting in the UK. He has appeared in many tours and has spent over five years with Premier Stage Productions, appearing in such shows as Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder, always playing lead character roles.”

Talking about the experience of writing the show George says: “The challenge was to make a 10-minute television episode into a 90-minute theatre experience. It was expanded to make it an original script and story for the theatre, to include plenty of audience participation and fun including some boo-ing required for the naughty goblins.”

Maintaining continuity from the book or television onto the stage was a challenge according George. “It had to be instantly recognisable to the audience, while at the same time made for travelling. We are delighted that this production has appeared in various cities around the world and therefore the challenge for our scenic designer is to make an amazing looking set that also is practical and able to be moved from location to location and set up in theatres of different shapes and sizes.”

For set design, a U.K. based company has been used to build the set to look the same as the television series. “They use images and style guides of all the locations in order to recreate the locations. We use a mixture of hard standing scenery and cloth to recreate Toyland and Noddy’s amazing car.”

George says they chose a musical because “all children like and enjoy music and song. If the show were purely a narrative, the danger is the young audience may find it hard to concentrate on spoken word for the duration; therefore, we break up the action with song and dance and encourage the audience to join in whenever possible.

Describing Noddy “as an enduring, classic brand,” George said, “Children love Noddy and parents feel safe with him. Many newer shows have a shorter shelf life and are the ‘big thing’ for a short time. Noddy has been around for many years and is loved through both the books and the television series. Parents were brought up on Noddy so they also enjoy seeing the characters they remember from their childhood. It is a lovely character that lends itself perfectly to a live show.”

On whether the politically incorrect characters from the books will make an appearance, George says: “Things that were once deemed acceptable are of course longer so as times and culture has changed. None of these characters are in the current stage version.”

The music includes the theme from “the television series and some new compositions, written by Alan Coates and Kim Goody”. The live show has “seven actors. You will see within the production actors performing in mascot style costumes designed and made to look identical to the images children (and adults) will be familiar with. We also have two live characters who act as a bond between the stage and audience and encourage the children to join in.”

So get ready to party with Noddy, Mr. Plod and Big Ears on November 29 (6 p.m.) November 30 and December 1 (12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) at Good Shepherd Auditorium. Tickets start at Rs. 1,000 and are available on www.bookmyshow.com and www.mycity4 kids.com