Theatre Preview: The Gingerbread Man, Jacksons Lane, Highgate

The Gingerbread Man picture by Pamela Raith Photography

The Gingerbread Man picture by Pamela Raith Photography - Credit: Archant

Hiccup Theatre presents an interactive, imaginitive take on the children’s fairytale

Highgate parents have learned to look out for the annual Christmas show at Jacksons Lane which always offer ingenious and inventive storytelling for children.

After last year’s successful reimagining of Peter Pan; Underneath A Magical Moon, Hiccup Theatre presents a traditonal tale for 3-7 year olds.

Jake Waring is one of three actor musicians taking on multiple roles in The Gingerbread Man, which features puppets, live music and plenty of interaction.

“I play a baker who likes to dance, the horse and the Fox, and also play guitar and ukelele,” he says.

“The three of us are on stage all the time unless we are hiding in the oven! There is music throughout the show and four original songs. The kids go mad for it and it’s amazing how quickly they will join in with ‘cakes and buns and pies’.

“They are singing You Can’t Catch Me I’m a Gingerbread Man before they even get here. I wore my Fitbit in rehearsals and I burned 1,000 calories per show.”

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The biscuit hero is a puppet that grows throughout the show as he meets first a cow, then a horse and finally a fox.

“It’s full on, but with kids you cant get away with any pretence pr they see right through it. That’s why children’s theatre is so hard. If you are not on the ball or allow it to lull, you will have them running on to the stage.”

Waring says it’s the adults in the audience who find it hard to deal with the Gingerbread Man being eaten.

“Compared to other children’s stories it’s not a happy ever after. He gets eaten and that’s quite a horrible thing, but in one sense it’s a coming of age story - he says his purpose is to be eaten by the fastest and fittest and he’s fulfilled his destiny. The kids are fine with that but the adults find it hard. At the end of the day he’s not a boy, he’s a biscuit even if the baker and his wife molly coddle him and see him as a child.

“It’s about letting people fulfil their destiny rather than stifling them.”

Waring often overhears young audience members asking: ‘Is it real is it magic? and is amazed at their engagement with theatre.

“We are in full view, they can see I have my hand up the fox’s bum, but they suspend their disbelief and it becomes real to them, which is magic.

“There’s a delicacy to how we bring the audience into the story, they are eased in gently without realising it.

“You might have a three year old who has never been to the theatre and if you mess it up they may never go again, so it’s important for the future of theatre that we get it right.”

The Gingerbread Man runs at Jackson’s Lane from Dec 1-24