Friday, 23 June 2017

The Dramaturgy of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck: Jimmy Jewell @ Edfringe 2017

Jimmy Jewell, in association with Children’s Classic Concerts, presents
The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck
Underbelly Circus Hub (Beauty), The Meadows, Edinburgh, EH9 9EX
Saturday 5th – Saturday 26th August 2017 (not 14th), 12:00

This August, children will be enthralled by The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck, performed by award-winning soprano and actress Michelle Todd and the Children’s Classic Concerts Festival Ensemble.

Escape to Beatrix Potter’s wonderful world and enjoy her timeless tales of our favourite characters, Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck.
Stephen McNeff’s musical settings of The Tales of Beatrix Potter have enchanted children and adult audiences in the UK, America and Canada. With brand new orchestrations, Jimmy Jewell and Children’s Classic Concerts bring this enduring classic to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Beatrix Potter is adored across the world for her iconic stories that have captured the minds of children for generations. In the age of the internet where children are growing up quicker than ever, it’s important to keep the beautiful stories alive with the simplicity and timelessness of narration and classical music.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Performance will always be the most accessible and understandable way to express ideas and encourage an audience to open their minds. We can ask questions in performance and get answers that cannot be reached by listening to a single voice. The fact that an audience of 500 can watch a show and all have a different interpretation is proof that performance still opens the world up to discussion of ideas.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Getting the music right was key in the creative process of this show. The original scores are beautiful, and what Stephen McNeff is doing so brilliantly for our production is retaining the grace and nostalgia whilst elegantly bringing the music up to date. Working with such material is great because the stories by Beatrix Potter stand alone as great pieces of art but bringing it to stage for the Edinburgh Fridge is a welcomed challenge.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Our productions vary from profound plays by Berkoff to commercial musicals about the state of the NHS. We don’t have a theme, genre or style, all that is important to us is making something that people will remember and be glad they have seen. Working with a children’s concert is vastly different to our last few productions and it’s nice to be working with the memories of my childhood that Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck bring flooding back.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Although it’s a children’s show, any mum, dad, auntie, uncle or grandparent that steps into the show will relive the stories that they were undoubtedly told as children. I hope that the audience will enjoy having the generational gap stripped away and all enjoy the show for what it is.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We had to think about entertaining children without patronising them. Many children’s shows talk down to young people in silly, squeaky voices in an attempt to engage them and, yes, it works because it’s what they have become used to. The audiences that see The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck will be treated as the intelligent and understanding young people they are, and will experience the same delight that their parents are whilst watching exactly the same performance.

For twenty-three years Children's Classic Concerts have been delighting children, their families and teachers with their unique, fun-filled introduction to live orchestral music. In that time, their concerts have featured not only classical music, but also jazz, traditional Celtic and world music - all in a lively mix of entertainment and education that regularly sells out at concert halls across Scotland.

Helen Beatrix Potter, known as Beatrix, was always encouraged to draw, and she spent many hours making intricate sketches of animals and plants, revealing an early fascination for the natural world that would continue throughout her life. Two of Beatrix’s earliest artist models were her pet rabbits. Her first rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer, enjoyed buttered toast and joined the Potter family on holiday in Scotland where he went for walks on a lead.

Benjamin’s successor was Peter Piper, who had a talent for performing tricks, and he accompanied Beatrix everywhere. Beatrix died in 1943, leaving fifteen farms and over four thousand acres of land to the National Trust. Today, more than two million Beatrix Potter books are sold across the world every year – four books a minute. The charming stories have a timeless quality, passed down from generation to generation and discovered anew by more readers each year.

Producer Jimmy Jewell was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 for his ‘outstanding contribution to the UK music industry’.

He comments, I loved Peter and Jemima, my parents and grandparents loved them, and now my children love them too. The creations of Beatrix Potter consistently withstand the tests of time to remain some of the most recognised and loved characters across the globe. We all know them, we all watch them, we all read them, and we all adore them. To bring these fascinating and wonderful stories to the stage with Michelle and Children's Classic Concerts is a joy and a pleasure, and I can't wait to spend my summer with them.

Title The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck
Performance Dates Saturday 5th – Saturday 26th August (not 14th), 12:00
Running time 60 minutes
Location Underbelly Circus Hub (Beauty), The Meadows, Edinburgh, EH9 9EX
Box Office Tickets are available from
or 03333 444 167 Previews: £7; Weekday: £11 (£10); Weekend: £12 (£11)

Writer Beatrix Potter Adapted by Adrian Mitchell Music by Stephen McNeff Performed by Michelle Todd and the Children’s Classic Concerts Festival Ensemble

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