Leeds Playhouse to tour family-friend theatre show across Leeds neighbourhoods

A family-friendly theatre show is hitting the road across Leeds, being toured and performed on a truck.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:45 pm
Alexander Ferris, director of Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost, in rehearsals at Leeds Playhouse. Photograph by Anthony Robling

The Leeds Playhouse is touring it's new show Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost in communities across Leeds.

It comes as part of the Playhouse’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and will be performed in parking lots, care homes, schools and village halls across the city.

Written by Robert Alan Evans and directed by Leeds Playhouse Associate Director (Creative Engagement) Alexander Ferris, the show premieres in Playhouse Square on May 27hitting the road on a five-week tour.

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Christopher Chilton (Penith Henderson), Stephanie Rutherford (Ascot Brown) and Kyle O Gara (Wallis) in rehearsals for Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost at Leeds Playhouse. Photograph: Anthony Robling

Mr Ferris said he hopes the show brings people “joy” as we slowly emerge out of lockdown.

He said: “It's been quite a strange experience, as it has for lots of people, over,the last year.

“We actually commissioned this show just as we were coming out of lockdown in 2020 and it looked like we were gonna be back in the autumn.

“We're really happy that we're still able to bring it now, and even though it is the naughty winter ghost, we think we think it still works today - even if it's blazing sunshine outside.”

He added: “We're doing about 60 performances and lots of really different venues, like schools, hospitals, care homes, and community centres - we’ll just sort of rock up in their car park.

“I think it's a fun idea just to kind of have that slight change of the everyday and to share a moment of joy with people in those communities.

“We’re just thrilled to be able to take it out and share it with everybody, in Leeds - it’s the dream and it's going to be great.”

The show is about an 800-year-old fairy who has become afraid to go outside.

However, one day she hears a brave child called Freddy, who is on a mission to save spring from the Naughty Winter Ghost, who is trying to create a permanent winter.

Packed with music, magic and very bad jokes, it is described as a show with “hope at its heart”.

“It’s very silly and very fun but one of the nice things about the play is that there is this whole idea about people being locked away in their houses and slowly coming out again,” Mr Ferris said.

“It’s about how we can all kind of find some joy and happiness in being together and hopefully that resonates with people and is what people experience when they come to see the show.”

The play is part of a much wider programme of work the theatre has been running throughout the pandemic as part of its Playhouse Connects programme.

Playhouse Connects is all about engaging creatively with communities across the city, aiming to address isolation, well-being, reconnection and training for young people.

Most recently they have also created a Steps of Creativity booklet which they have handed out in local community centres and food banks, designed to help people to apply more creativity to their daily walks.

Mr Ferris said: “It’s been amazing to see the community organisation in Leeds.

“Leeds has done a really great job of treating the whole situation really compassionately, and the sense of community spirit has been just mind blowing.

“For us to be part of that feels really special and it's a privilege to visit these areas and help contribute to the city’s recovery.

“I think the great thing about this is that the show is on back of a truck so we're able to go to places that we wouldn't usually be able to go

“We will be performing in places that people will have walked through every day for the last year as part of their daily walk.

“Now suddenly there'll be this weird truck with a set in it with actors, a bit of music playing and all those kinds of things.

“It changes up the space a little bit and makes us look at our own communities and own neighbourhoods in a slightly different way which I think is really exciting.”

He added: “Culture has been the thing that's got a lot of people through, because it helps you connect with other people that helps reflect on your own situation, and sometimes it helps you express some of those things that are really really difficult to talk about

“It helps people kind of repurpose their brains for even just for 40 minutes, to be able to switch off and think about something different.

“It can be a really really powerful and moving thing.”

Dates, times and prices

The tour will be taking the show to specially invited audiences in schools and care homes.

There will also be public performances.

The performances will be socially distanced and operating in a Covid safe environment.

Tickets cost £3.

More venues are to be announced later, but tickets can be purchased for the following venues now:

Playhouse Square - May 27 to May 28

St Aidan's Church Community Hall, Harehills - Tuesday, June 1

The Bridge, Holbeck Community Centre - Wednesday, June 2

The Old Fire Station, Space 2, Gipton - Saturday, June 5

HOPS, Hawksworth Wood Village Hall - Thursday, June 10

Armley Christchurch - Friday, June 18

The Holbeck, Slunglow - Saturday, June 19

Hamara Centre, Beeston - Wednesday June 23

St Patrick's Church, Burmantofts - Friday, June 25