Producer Matt Borgatti and director Andrew Barry at Goblin, a new children’s theatre company write about their jazz-themed Christmas show for ages 3+ at Chelsea Theatre
’The Ballad of Rudy’ is a new children’s Christmas theatre piece, the story of a young reindeer called Rudy, who instead of having a red nose, stands out from the crowd because of his passion for Jazz. What’s really exciting for us is that we’ve enlisted some people with real talent and credentials to bring this show to life- We’re really excited to have cast virtuoso musician Claude Deppa in the show and have the music composed by Will Dollard and David Lydon of the gypsy-funk-jazz band Los Pelos Rizos.
‘The Ballad of Rudy’ was really born out of a need to see more cultural diversity in theatre for this age group (ages 3-8). It’s being performed at Chelsea Theatre in the heart of Worlds End, one of the area’s most culturally diverse locations. Worlds End is also round the corner from the 606 Club and near to the legendary Troubadour where Los Pelos Rizos frequently gig, so it’s definitely in the right area.
Using real, top quality musicians and a live jazz score alongside a new take on a traditional tale, we want to introduce this creative mix to young audiences, and on a grander scale, to show that being creative and different is something to celebrate. We were over the moon to meet and then cast Claude Deppa in the show, as we found as well as being tremendously talented, he really shares this passion for introducing and teaching (in a very fun way) young people about music. Claude also has such a strong link to the Jazz tradition- having travelled the world playing in different ensembles- that it’s really given us some authenticity and drive for the show.
We’ve tried to stay away from cliché but we’ve drawn on the legends and myths of Jazz to create characters that young children can enjoy and understand. From watching films such as Oh Brother Where Art Thou, Ray and The Jungle Book (which has been a great inspiration) we came up with the idea of the jazz oddessy. We’ve got a Polar Bear who sings the Blues, Fitz the fox who only speaks in scat (a real highlight of the show), a once- glamorous jazz dame Walrus (who’s getting a bit long in the tooth) and of course the Jazz Penguin- a travelling troubadour on a never-ending tour (The Emperor (penguin) of Jazz). As you can probably tell, we’ve kept it very playful and this has translated well into the music of the show.
The notion of improvisation and playfulness naturally appeals to young children- and Dave and Will have kept that a real priority in the music- we’ve even included a section with a totally improvised song. Music-wise we’re really pushing the boundaries for theatre devised for this age-group in terms of the sheer skill and musical dexterity of the performers. As well as Claude Deppa and his signature Flugle Horn we’ve got guitarist Dan Bottomley and multi-instrumentalist Wendy Paver in the cast. There’s a real variety of styles in the score- from Django Reinhardt-esque get-up-and-dance swing to French Jazz and ballads- there’s even a troupe of puffins who get a bit ‘experimental’.
We’ve really tried to build a unique children’s show with authentic Jazz credentials- hopefully audiences will love it. We’ve already had comments from adults without young children saying how they’d like to see it, so we’ve put in two evening performances of the show as well.
The Ballad of Rudy will be on from 4th-22nd December (excluding Mondays) 10.30am and 1.30pm at Chelsea Theatre, London, SW10 0DR. Tickets cost £8 (Get them HERE)
If you don’t have young children we’ll be doing two evening performances of the show, Rudy: Live & Late(r) on 14th & 19th December at 7pm (on sale from Chelsea Theatre’s website soon)
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