x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE stage show to mark Noddy's 60th birthday

The producer, director and cast talk about the stage production Noddy in Toyland which will play in Dubai.

Noddy in Toyland explores some important messages, but the emphasis is on fun. Courtesy Premier Stage Productions Ltd
Noddy in Toyland explores some important messages, but the emphasis is on fun. Courtesy Premier Stage Productions Ltd

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Noddy, one of the most famous children’s characters created by the successful British author Enid Blyton.

The UAE-based entertainment theatre company Art for All and the UK-based Premier Stage Productions felt that bringing the stage show Noddy in Toyland to Dubai would be a great way to celebrate.

From page to stage

Noddy, a little wooden boy who lives in Toyland and drives a red and yellow car, first appeared in print in 1949 and has been a regular on television since 1955 up to the present day.

The vibrant and interactive show, in association with Eid in Dubai, appeals to children from the age of 2. Audiences should expect plenty of music, with costumes and a set that promise to amaze.

“Eid is an opportunity for the family to spend time together and have fun. Parents like to offer their children activities that mark the day as a way to celebrate,” says Rania Kuzbari Ashur, the founder of Art for All. “Live shows are a perfect experience for children, especially when they have the opportunity to meet live characters they read about or see on TV.”

The company’s first play, George’s Marvellous Medicine, was produced in 2004 in a small theatre in Dubai’s Knowledge Village.

“Since then, there are more theatres in town and more international and local productions are being offered to the community. Consequently, the interest in the performing arts is increasing,” says Ashur.

However, despite the UAE becoming a hub for international productions and concerts, “the possibility of bringing musicals and important productions is limited by the capacity and the technical specifications of the theatre”, she says.

A familiar love

Exposing children to theatre at a young age is “vital”, according to the production’s director, Nick George.

“We take very seriously the fact this will be many children’s first experience of live theatre. They have to enjoy it and feel safe, for them to want to come back to other shows,” says George, whose Premier Stage Productions previously brought productions such as Little Red Riding Hood to the UAE.

Noddy, he says, is as “loveable” today as when he was first created, and because parents are familiar with the character, they know what to expect.

“It’s a fun and fast-paced show with plenty of laughs and audience participation, together with singing and dancing,” says George. “Noddy is certainly one of our favourite shows to produce – lovely characters, plus the Noddy car, all of which make for something extra special.”

As with other productions, the company prefers not to push messages on to the audience, but rather to concentrate on the fun. Yet the show does explore the difference between right and wrong while engaging the crowd.

A total of eight cast and crew members are part of the production, which aims to create an elaborate set featuring locations children will instantly recognise from the books and TV shows.

Mischievously honest

According to the actress Georgina Wyatt, who plays Noddy, the little boy does possess honest tendencies, yet somehow always finds himself in trouble. Having grown up with Enid Blyton stories, she was excited to play the role.

“I was enthralled by her books and she manages to really capture a child’s imagination. To me, stories such as Noddy are nostalgic and play a big part in shaping our creative minds as children,” says Wyatt. “Also, getting the chance to visit the UAE made the offer even more tempting.”

There is a joy to be had, she says, in the “traditional and simple” aspects of Noddy’s toys and world as a whole, which help the character remain popular and timeless.

“It’s been exciting to be part of this terrific show, which has been made even more special by the hype surrounding its 60th anniversary,” she says. “Theatre addresses skills known to benefit children’s education and development in many ways – physical, artistic, mental, personal and social development.”

The show is on at 3.30pm and 6pm on Saturday and 11am, 3pm and 5.30pm on Sunday and Monday at the First Group Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Tickets cost from Dh80 to Dh130 and are available at Time Out Tickets and the box office at Souk Madinat Jumeirah. For details, visit www.artforall.ae

melshoush@thenational.ae