Stunning play starring local actor brings animals to life with intricate puppetry (From News Shopper)
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Stunning play at The Churchill brings animals to life with intricate puppetry
An enchanting play about one boy’s magical connection with nature is set to bring the countryside to life with innovative puppetry and some local talent.
The Crowstarver, adapted from Dick King-Smith’s children’s novel, will be running at The Churchill Theatre between Tuesday April 24 and Saturday April 28 and stars Bromley’s very own Michael Wagg.
A moving story set in the early days of the Second World War, the play whisks us off to a close-knit rural community where a baby is found abandoned in a lambing pen.
He is adopted by shepherd Tom Sparrow, played by Michael, and as he grows up it is clear the mystery of his birth is not the only special thing about him – John Joseph has an amazing gift with animals.
As the years pass, being different means John faces threats of all kinds, from ignorance and prejudice and the war itself.
Michael told the News Shopper: “We’ve been on the road for about two months and the response has been incredible.
“There is something for everyone.
“The best responses have been when we have a mix of adults and children in the audience.
“The puppets are incredible.
“We have a fox and fox cubs, a baby lamb – the producers are really exceptional storytellers.
“The show was made in 2006 and we are looking at it again, so it was before War Horse’s time.
“We have live music too which is like a film score.”
With only five actors in the play, most of the cast play more than one character.
Michael plays Tom the shepherd, a school teacher, an auctioneer trying to sell a wild horse (which John tames in the style of a horse whisperer) and a bully.
He added: “We do this very simply – often it will be you just change your hat and physicality and you can snap very quickly in and out of characters.
“At one point four of us are behind the fox puppet controlling it but the audience just don’t see us – all they see is a fox feeding from this boy’s hand.
“The play follows this incredible boy’s life.
“He has this magical connection with animals and the natural world – it really makes you think again about this cycle and how it’s bigger than us.”
Michael last trod the boards in his hometown acting in a play called Donkey’s Years in 2007.
He added: “I’m really excited about coming back.
“I’m trying to get as many of my friends to come as possible.
“There’s a sense of coming home – I’m mainly a touring theatre actor all over the country.
“This is the closest show to London so hopefully we will get lots of our mates to see it.”
The Crowstarver also stars Malcolm Hamilton, one of TV’s iconic 118 men, as John Joseph.
Shows are at 7pm on Tuesday April 24, 1.30pm on Wednesday, 1pm and 5.30pm on Thursday, 7pm on Friday and at 1.30pm and 6pm on Saturday.
Tickets are available from £10.
For bookings visit atgtickets.com