Creative kids aged 5 - 11 can explore the themes in the show at our Easter Fun Club on Wednesday 30 March. Spend the day with local artist Theresa Hempsall for just £25 per child.
In a couple of weeks time we’ll be getting stuck in to rehearsals for Three Keepers, our silent comedy for all ages about life in a rock lighthouse. We’ve got a brilliant cast working with us on this tour of the show, and we’d like to introduce them to you lovely people. Fanfare please!Firstly, we have actor and comedian Gareth Cooper, who’s returning to Flounder Rock Lighthouse for a third time to play goofy Young ‘Arry. Gareth has ben working with us from the very first R&D of Three Keepers, and has had a huge input into how the show has developed. He doesn’t just play lighthouse keepers though, his recent credits include Dr Seward in Dracula, Macduff and King Duncan in Macbeth, and you might have spotted him in a Tesco Mobile advert (he’s the one in the natty turquoise suit, not the one wearing the cherry helmet!) Gareth’s also a comedian and a musician- he’s written the songs for a rather brilliant production of The Hunting of the Snark, that team WinterWalker saw in Edinburgh last year. That show featured an excellent beaver puppet, who we think might be an friend of one of our other cast members…
Nextly, we’d like to welcome Benjamin Dixon to the WinterWalker fold. Ben’s a dancer and performer joining us for the first time to take on the role of Old Tom, Flounder Rock’s wise old principal keeper. The confines of a lighthouse might feel a little unfamiliar for Ben at first, because recently he’s been performing on some enormous stages- in Chicago in the West End, several productions with the English National Opera, and touring all over the world in Matthew Bourne’s spectacular shows The Car Man and Swan Lake. Now, we at WW don’t get star-struck easily, but Ben has also worked with one of our all time heroes- Kermit the Frog! He was a dancer in the Gulag in Muppets Most Wanted (that’s Ben in the nice knotted belly top!).
And thirdly, our other new addition to the lighthouse family (the show, not the band) is dancer and puppeteer William Palmer, who’ll be playing our uptight and rule-bound middle keeper, Dick. Will’s new to lighthouse keeping, but he knows the silliness that is working with WinterWalker very well. He toured with us three years running in our production FIVE for Theatre Hullabaloo, travelling all the way from Darlington, to Toronto in Canada, and back again to the bright lights of… Leicester. We estimate that during that time Will ate approximately 135 lemons live onstage, so he’ll be glad it’s just biscuits this time! Since then, Will’s also been having some big-stage adventures, puppeteering the amazing horses in the West End production of War Horse. He spent last summer being a Jedi in Secret Cinema’s The Empire Strikes Back, so we’re sure the force is strong with him by now!
Now as we’ve said before, you all seem like very intelligent people, so you might have noticed that all three of our human cast members have recently worked with puppets. And that brings us to our final and some would say most important cast member (he would definitely say so). Reprising the role of Teddy, Young Arry’s best friend and companion, is the iconic bear performer Sir Roger DeCuddly. A veteran of stage and screen with vast experience, Sir Roger made his triumphant return to touring theatre in Three Keepers last year. He has spent many years working tirelessly behind the scenes with NUPPO, the union he founded with Muffin the Mule, which champions the rights of puppets and performing objects. But, he tells us, he feels his audience had been deprived of his presence onstage for long enough.
“Many people thought that the time of the puppets had passed” he says, “but now I see lots of my old chums back out on the road- Basil Brush is donning his cravat and heading off on his Back with a Boom tour, and of course dear Sooty has been touring almost every year since his debut. He’s such a hardworking bear, and he never let that dreadful stammer hold him back.” We ask Sir Roger what he thinks about the new generation of puppets now dazzling the public, and he ponders a little, swirling a glass of cognac in his paw, before replying. “Well, the War Horse puppets are splendid fellows of course, but they are rather demanding- three puppeteers each! Our Mr Palmer was only trusted with a head, I hear. Young Beaver from Mr Cooper’s Snark seems a very bright young puppet- we expect great things from him. But alas, we at NUPPO have never quite seen eye to eye with our American cousins. That young frog Kermit, who our nice Mr Dixon was working with, for example- great energy certainly, but the shouting, and the arm flailing! Not very dignified…”
As you can see, Sir Roger is a well-travelled bear- here he is at several of the venues from last year’s tour, and he’ll be keeping us updated on life on the road this year. We’d love to see your pictures of bears or other teddies in unusual places!
You can tweet them to us at @winterwalkeruk, using #Threekepers16, post them to us on Facebook at @winterwalkertheatre, or email them to us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Sir Roger promises to reply to all his fan mail in person!
Kitty (Three Keepers Director)