Santa's reindeers are about to magically come to life for daily parades at Sheffield's Meadowhall - thanks to the puppet wizardry of the experts behind West End smash hit War Horse.
In a world exclusive, for the first time ever, a family of realistic reindeer puppets have been created by the Associate Director and Associate Puppetry Director of War Horse, to parade through the centre led by Santa Claus himself.
The theatrical experience, created especially for the shopping centre, will run for four weeks throughout the festive period with several parades every day - except Tuesdays - starting on Wednesday, at 11.30am.
WATCH LIVE: Join us live at Meadowhall to watch the first parade, when we will be talking to the creators and shopping centre bosses, on Facebook Live - tune in at www.facebook.com/sheffieldstar.
With breath-taking natural movements and reindeer sounds, these astonishingly lifelike creatures, the biggest is 7ft tall, will come alive with their own friendly personalities.
They will journey through the centre, stopping to allow visitors to interact and take photos.
Shoppers are being told to especially watch out for Rascal, a baby reindeer, who is said to be still in training and quite mischievous.
Darren Pearce, Centre Director at Meadowhall said: “The expertise which has gone into making the reindeer family is truly astounding, we’re thrilled to be hosting such an individual and enchanting Christmas experience.”
A team of expert puppeteers and actors will control and lead the reindeer family as they make their way through the centre.
Andy Brunskill and Jimmy Grimes are the creative masterminds behind Meadowhall’s Christmas reindeer puppet parade.
They have worked together for the past seven years - they cast and directed the recasts of War Horse in the West End.
Meadowhall’s reindeer puppet parade is a bespoke piece of work, imagined and created by them,
Andy, who was Associate Director of War Horse in London. has written, devised and directed numerous plays, dance, puppetry, installation, site specific and youth theatre for companies including National Theatre, Young Vic, Orange Tree Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome, DanceXchange, Jersey Arts Trust and Southwark Playhouse.
Puppet maker Jimmy spent three years working on The National Theatre's production of War Horse, where he was Associate Puppetry Director. He designs, makes and directs puppets. He was an actor and designer, before turning to directing, but it was his early fascination with animation that kick started his journey towards becoming a puppetry specialist. He can be mostly found drawing or drilling in his workshop.
Andy Brunksill, director at Brunskill and Grimes, said: “We pride ourselves on creating incredible experiences with puppets and people, really pushing puppetry to new heights.
"What we’ve created for Meadowhall is truly unique and a real first. It all started by looking at real reindeers, the way they interact and watching how they move. We broke that down into simple mechanics and created something incredibly lifelike.
“Our reindeer family responds just like their real-life counterparts. They are complete with their own names and personalities. We’re delighted to bring them into Meadowhall to engage with families and shoppers for a unique Christmas experience that will be remembered forever.”
The imaginative event will run for four weeks from November 22. With three 20 minute performances a day, Monday to Saturday, except Tuesdays, at 11.30am, 4pm and 6pm, and Sundays at 11:30am and 4pm.
Each will be announced by the captivating sound of reindeer bells ringing.
WIN CHANCE TO MEET THE REINDEER PUPPETS AND SANTA
One lucky shopper can win a meet and greet with the reindeer puppets and Santa Claus, then walk with the parade through the centre. Deadline for entries is midnight on December 15, 2017. Full details, terms and conditions at www.meadowhall.co.uk.