Gruffalo swaps forest for Ipswich Regent
I have to ask; has Gruffalo actor Owen Guerin ever been tempted to walk into Waterstones and buy the book while in costume?
“And just cause havoc,” he laughs. “I’ve been tempted to don the suit after the show and ride home on the underground. I couldn’t do it; the suit is very hot. The underground would kill me.”
The outfit’s actually based on the concept of a Morris Dancer’s costume, where pieces of material - or in the Gruffalo’s case fur - are layered on top of each other.
When he moves, every piece of fur on his body rises and falls which gives the character a real sense of energy. He’s like a whirlwind... he’s also fairly hot.
“It’s quite heavy. I liken it to wrapping a duvet around yourself, then running around on stage for half an hour. It’s definitely a good workout. I’ve got the best pair of trainers I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” laughs Owen.
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“They’re kind of Velcroed up and fully covered in fur with four big claws that hang out the front. They’re immense; if could wear these on a daily basis I definitely would.”
Critically-acclaimed Theatre Company Tall Stories bring Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler’s much-loved book to Ipswich’s Regent Theatre on March 13-14.
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Good news for those who tried to see it at Harvest at Jimmy’s last year.
“Oh wow, the queue was just the largest thing in the world,” remembers Owen, who also performed the show in Singapore and Hong Kong.
“That was mind blowing because I’m not well travelled. My holidays when I was younger were Devon.”
The story sees what happens when a quick-thinking Mouse meets wheeler-dealer Fox, eccentric old Owl, the maraca-shaking Snake and of the very creature he imagined The Gruffalo in a deep, dark wood. It’s a magical tale full of songs, laughs and scares for children aged three and up.
“It’s always nice to see like children come along and there’s quite a lot of call and response - so they get the opportunity to shout out ‘oh there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo’. They really do scream the lines out at us which is a lovely feeling,” says Owen, who has also been working with Tall Stories on the live version of kids’ classic Mr Benn.
“The Gruffalo doesn’t come out until kind of 35 minutes into the 55-minute show, but it’s my favourite moment; bouncing out as The Gruffalo and seeing the audience’s reactions.
“We had one girl today, she seemed quite petrified but warmed into it as she went along she realised the Gruffalo’s not really this big horrible beast that’s going to destroy everyone; he’s actually quite a misunderstood creature.
“It’s quite nice seeing how the children are really excited and laughing or if they’re going to cry and run away.”