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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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