What does 12 year old Charlie Duncan do when he uncovers a group of evil grannies plotting to take over the world? Well, try to stop them of course!
Based on Alan Brough’s children’s novel of the same name, Charlie and the War Against Grannies has been entertaining kids of all ages since its 2016 release. Now, Arts Centre Melbourne is presenting the story live on stage for the mid-term holidays, featuring live music, shadow puppets, and some really smelly farts.
New Zealand-born Alan is a familiar face around the comedy scene. Most known for being a team captain on Spicks and Specks, he has also appeared in Kath & Kim, The Craic, The Nugget, and Bad Eggs. Alan has also co-hosted several radio shows, and even performed as Baron Bomburst in the Australian production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Now, he has taken on the mammoth task of adapting his children’s novel for the stage, and will be performing in it alongside Sarah Kreigler and an assortment of puppets.
What is the most exciting part about creating children’s theatre?
For me, creating children’s theatre has been like creating any other sort of theatre. There is that wonderful rush as new ideas occur to you and you are able to solve problems of story and staging. There’s also the almost perverse thrill of being absolutely terrified that no-one will like it. That certainly pushes me to try and make any work the best it can be.
Do you have anything in common with Charlie?
Charlie and I share a lot of characteristics. We both dither, are worried about almost everything in the world particularly things that will, more than likely, never eventuate, we both have a lot of curly hair and are scared of llamas (they’re fire-proof you know.) There is one big difference between Charlie and I: Charlie has one leg that is hairy and one that is completely smooth. I do not.
How are you using puppets in the show?
The puppets are being used to bring the more grotesque characters in the show. A young lad saw one of the puppets – an ugly, evil granny – and was so scared he ran out of the room. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen in a full auditorium.
What was the process of adapting a book to the stage like?
Long. Really long. The book had to pulled apart to get to the heart of the story and then we had to find the best way to tell the story on stage which meant not only creating great dialogue but also creating room for wonderful images and finding space for songs.
Why should people come and see Charlie and the War Against Grannies?
Because it’s got great music, characters you’ll love, characters you’ll hate, a full-scale war, a creepy little guy called The Lurker and three really stinky farts. (Oh, and a whole song about farting that takes place in a wardrobe.)
Charlie and the War Against Grannies will be playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from March 28.
Tickets and more information are available at the Arts Centre Melbourne website.