War Horse enjoyed two hugely successful runs at the National Theatre before transferring to the New London Theatre in 2009. I was part of the original West End cast and during my time on the show I performed Joey as a Foal, Joey (Hind), Topthorn (Hind) and Billy Narracott. I also took part in the National Theatre's Jubilee Salute to the Queen in 2012, Handspring Puppet Company's TED Talk in 2011, and the NT's 50th Anniversary celebratory performance on BBC One among many other notable performances, appearances and opportunities.
I was involved in the testing of the life-sized elephant puppets for this production back in 2016 when they were being built by Significant Object and 3 years later and I was back playing the role of Peanut, the mischievous elephant calf. This tour saw us perform in Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin and at London's Royal Festival Hall for Christmas. I also appeared on Blue Peter, Children in Need and RTÉ's Ray D'Arcy Show. My own circus background proved useful as I also did some clowning and stilt walking in the show and had to jump on a trampoline - with a full-scale baby elephant on my back!
Aurora was a giant polar bear puppet made by Factory Settings as part of Greenpeace's Paws Off The Arctic campaign. We initially took her on a protest walk in London to stand outside Shell's headquarters in protest against their oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Pulled along by people power, Aurora had 3 puppeteers for each of her legs and I and a couple of other puppeteers alternated operating her head which was on the end of a very heavy gimble arm. The following year Aurora was a fixture in the Greenpeace field at Glastonbury and can count Vivenne Westwood and Emma Thompson among her admirers.
In the first restaging of Die Zauberflöte at Glyndebourne in over a decade, puppets were used to portray a giant snake, birds, butlers, maids, singing vegetables, giant iron guards, and even babies! With puppet design and direction by Patrick Martel (Cirque du Soleil's Toruk) a team of six puppeteers weaved through the story line and tied the disparate elements together. I was also engaged as Puppet Captain to keep an eye on the puppetry and understudy prep. The opera was recorded and streamed live in cinemas and online, for which I recorded an interview with Katie Derham on the puppets of the piece.
Faeries was the Christmas offering in the Linbury Studio in 2010 and in it I played the wise old faerie, Drone. Directed by choreographer and director Will Tuckett it told the story of a young man caught in a London park during the Blitz who discovers a world of Faeries locked in their own war. With puppets by Blind Summit and written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz it earned five-star reviews during its run.
Directed by Will Tuckett
MEMORIES OF AUGUST 1914
Liverpool - 2014
French company Royal de Luxe brought their own brand of giant puppet magic to Liverpool in 2014 in a moving tribute to all those who fought in World War I. It was a wonderful experience to work with such an innovative company amongst such passionate and talented performers. As a French speaker I got to work closely with one of the main puppeteers of the Grandmother and acted as deputy head puppeteer, operating the Grandmother's head whenever we stopped walking as the primary puppeteers got into position.
Created by Royal de Luxe
UK Tour - 2017, The Drive-In Enfield Summer 2020
This ambitious UK-wide tour saw us take a menagerie of creatures to diverse venues from the Jersey Opera House all the way to Eden Court in Inverness. This show brought life-sized dinosaurs to the stage including a baby Triceratops, the less well known Segnosaurus, a juvenile T-Rex called Tamora and even her big brother Titus. I was also responsible for puppet maintenance on the tour, performing any minor fixes and liaising with the puppet builder for bigger repairs.
Directed by Derek Bond
THE CHRISTMASAURUS (musical)
Hammersmith Apollo - 2017
I puppeteered and voiced the title character of The Christmasaurus in a special short run of a musical adaptation of the bestselling book by acclaimed children's author and musician Tom Fletcher. The show starred Tom Fletcher, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Matt Willis, Harry Judd and Giovanna Fletcher, and was choreographed by Ashley Wallen. I was also responsible for puppet maintenance and repair during the run which mostly involved glueing icicles back onto his head!
Written by Tom Fletcher
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (musical)
Little Angel Theatre - 2013
I played the role of Father Christmas as well as some of his Reindeer in this festive musical at the world renowned Little Angel Theatre. Directed and composed by Ben Glasstone, who also wrote the music for the RSC/Little Angel co-productions The Fantastic Mr Fox and The Tempest, The Night Before Christmas featured a new musical arrangement of the famous poem "A Visit from St Nicholas" and a blues solo (yes, really) from Father Christmas lamenting all the work to do on December 24th.
Directed by Ben Glasstone
TREASURE ISLAND (musical)
Leicester Haymarket Theatre - 2018/2019
I was part of the cast of the first in-house production at the Haymarket for 11 years following its closure in 2007. This musical adaptation of the classic story was written by Sandi Toksvig with lyrics by her sister, Jenifer Toksvig. In it I played Captain Billy Bones, Mr Arrow the first mate and Ben Gunn the marooned crewmate of Long John Silver. Ben Gunn was a puppet and I was responsible for puppet maintenance and repair which needed to be undertaken periodically. This show saw me return to the Haymarket some 15 years after I first did my work experience there.
Written by Sandi Toksvig
UK Tour - 2014
Safe House was a multimedia multi-disciplinary spectacular. Performed in, on, and around a purpose-built two-storey house it told a story of growing up, of flying free, and returning home. I was a performer in the show dancing and acting at a height of over 24 feet as well as a counter-balance for one of the dancers as they ran along the walls of the house. I also recorded narration and devised choreography for the show which we toured to cities including Leicester, Norwich, Brighton and London.
Co-created by Wired Aerial Theatre
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (musical)
New Vic Theatre - 2011
Adapted and directed by artistic director Theresa Heskins, Alice In Wonderland was a new musical for Christmas 2011. I played Tweedledee as well as lending puppetry skills to the Cheshire Cat and a shrunken Alice and bringing a giant Alice to life with the help of some imaginative physical theatre and an oversized dress! Despite breaking a finger during one of the shows I still consider this one of my favourite roles!