Interview with Eva Sampson, Director of The Scarecrows’ Wedding!

Tell us about The Scarecrows’ Wedding. 
The
show was once described as a “mini folk musical for families” and I
think that’s pretty accurate. It’s full of fun, character, silliness and
celebrates the epic love story of two very charming scarecrows, Harry
and Betty!

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

We’ve
had a lot of fun bringing the book to life onstage and I think that
comes across in the production – it’s one big celebration. So I’d love
our audiences to laugh, sing-along and maybe even shed a tear! I think
everybody (even secretly) enjoys a good love story!

How did the show come about? 
Back
in 2014, Scamp Theatre approached me about the project. At that point
the book hadn’t even been released yet! Scamp have such a long and
successful relationship with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler that
there is a real trust in their work and I felt very honoured to have
been asked. That December we entered into a phase of Research and
Development at Watford Palace Theatre and it was during this period that
Darren Clark (Composer) wrote most of the songs for the show and myself
and James Button (Designer) were able to explore how we could bring the
book to life on stage. The following summer we entered into rehearsals
and since opening at Watford Palace in July 2015, I’m proud to say the
show has gone from strength to strength! 
 How do you translate a popular picture book for the stage?
When
adapting a picture book for the stage, especially one that is
much-loved by children, there’s of course a pressure to really do it
justice. I believe that there will be elements of the book – certain
images that a child will want to see on stage and they will find
pleasure in their recognition of them. These images are my starting
point. It’s then about building on these images in an imaginative way,
sometimes re-inventing them but always, at all times staying true to the
story. For me, it’s really important that we create non-patronising,
playful pieces of theatre, which encourage children to use their
imaginations. 
What has it been like working with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler? 
It’s been a real honour. The popularity of the book is testament to the genius of Julia Donaldson
and Axel Scheffler and their ability to create loveable characters that
audiences can really get behind. When Julia saw the show open at the
Edinburgh Festival
in 2015, it was of course a massive relief to hear that she enjoyed the
show and enormously valuable to receive her feedback. 
The Scarecrows’ Wedding had a very successful run at the Leicester Square Theatre. How do you think the show will be perceived by audiences around the country?
 
The
production toured back in 2015 and it was wonderful to see it so warmly
embraced by audiences across the country. I hope audiences feel like
they’ve escaped the world for 55 minutes when it comes to their local
theatre. That they’ve been thoroughly entertained! For me personally, I
love visiting the show on tour and experiencing it in such varied
spaces. It keeps the show fresh. 
You’ve worked on several very successful children’s productions – what is your greatest accomplishment to date? 
Working
on The Scarecrows’ Wedding is undoubtedly one of my career highlights
and I am very grateful to Scamp Theatre for giving me the opportunity. I
love making work for children and young people – their honesty and
responsiveness is fantastic. Being able to share my work with my nephew
Zack (4) and niece Chloe (2) is also a massive joy for me – it’s so
wonderful to be able to see it through their eyes.  
What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket? 
I’d
say it’s a show full of heart, fun and is jam-packed with great songs!
There’s a love story, a wedding, a villain, a fire and a whole heap of
live music that’ll have you dancing in the aisles!

The Scarecrows’ Wedding is running Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th June at Sherman Theatre.  

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