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Little Angel Marionette Theatre

I’ve just spent a fantastic four days working with the team from the Little Angel on a play that celebrates the theatre’s fifty years anniversary. It is in many ways a tribute to the theatre’s founder, John Wright. The play is funded by Heritage Lottery money and will be shown (entrance free) to some eight thousand children in venues all round London and the South-east. We planned out the play in an extraordinary little dive, next to West Hampstead tube station. It was once an old ticket office, but is now a ‘creative work space’ run by an outfit called ‘Metal’, which I believe is itself run by Jude Kelly, who used to be with the Yorkshire Playhouse and is now heading up the cultural side of the Olympics.

Interesting place to plan and plot out a theatre production! Every two minutes a train pulls up outside the window and every ten minutes or so a fast train from or to Marylebone roars past about four feet away from where you’re working! Anyway, never mind that, one of the puppeteers working on the project is the great Ronnie Le Drew.  Has the name rung a bell? No, not Ronnie Drew from the Irish folk band, The Dubliners. Altogether different bloke. Ronnie Le Drew for many years played Zippy in ‘Rainbow’. Yes, Zippy! I can’t think how long it is I’ve been doing incredibly bad take-offs of Zippy, especially one where I act out Zippy getting his zip done up and then I end up spending four days working with him! Well, not exactly Zippy himself, but the voice and hand behind Zippy. 

Ronnie is a great guy and to watch him moving these marionettes was an honour. He can make them look as if they’re thinking, Stunning. Anyway, the show goes into proper rehearsal in May and will be in the theatres in June. I haven’t exactly written it. It was a collaboration between all the puppeteers and several other Little Angel people and myself. One gag I was quite pleased with is when Ronnie, as himself, turns to a boy puppet and says, ‘What do you think of the show?’ and the puppet says, ‘No, I don’t like it very much. I don’t like puppets.’ A puppet saying that he doesn’t like puppets. I love it.



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