Pippi Longstocking

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

02/07/2007 - 14/07/2007

Production Details

by Astrid Lindgren, Adapted & directed by Tim Bray
All music & lyrics by Christine White; except ‘Pippi Langstrampf’, by Johannson, Lindgren and Phersu

Staged by kind permission of the Lindgren Estate

An enduring favourite of children around the world. The irrepressible and irreverent Pippi Longstocking is a girl who has flaming red ponytails and lives by herself in Villekulla Cottage in a topsy-turvy world of fun and hi-jinks.

Gala Opening Sat 30 June 7.00pm

Prices: $17.90 per ticket, $65 family concession (4 tickets)

Term time season for schools, kindys and pre-schools:
First two weeks of Term 3

Generous discounts apply to school, kindy and pre-school bookings

This play, Pippi Longstocking, is dedicated to my sister-in-law, Fiona Siketi.
Fiona lives life to the full like Pippi and, like her, has a heart of gold.

Mailing List
If you would like to join our mailing to keep informed about our future shows, please register on our website www.timbrayproductions.co.nz , or sending us an email with your name and postal address,  or by phoning us on 09-360-2265. Thank you.

School Shows 
Pippi Longstocking runs for the first two weeks of Term 3, so that schools and pre-schools can bring their children to the theatre as part of their curricula. If you would like more information, or to book your school or pre-school into a show please contact us as per the details above. Ticket prices to school and pre-school groups are hugely reduced, with free tickets for teachers and a free Teacher’s Resource Guide prepared by Rosemary Tisdall, a Children’s Literature Consultant. Phone Rosemary on 523-1294 if you would like to meet with her and get some ideas as to how to help your child discover the pleasure of reading.

Our Charities of Choice
Tim Bray Productions provides free tickets to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, so that they can escape their worries for a while and enjoy smiling for a while. 

Pippi Longstocking - Esther Stephens
Tommy - Jonathan Martin
Annika - Sophie Henderson
Bengt, Policeman, Captain Longstocking - Bruce Burfield 
Willie, Teacher - Louise Harris

Composer - Christine White
Set & Costume Design - Sarah Sauler
Design Consultant - Sarah Burren
Lighting Design - Robert Hunte
Lighting & Sound Operator - Robert Hunte or Scott Gaddes
Stage Managers - Alana Tisdall, Geordie McCallum
Ushers - Kellee Trelewsky, Scott Gaddes

Audience Host - Mitchell Turei
Set Builders - Sarah Sauler & Dale Taylor  
Costumes, Sets & Props Created & Sourced by Sarah Sauler
Scenic Artist - Carly Mohan-Druce
Warehouse space kindly provided by Sarah Burren
Illustration - James Stewart
Brochure Design - David Martin
Advert Designs - Stefania Samecki-Capper
Logo Design / Brochure Concept - Insight Creative Ltd
Teacher's Resource Guide - Rosemary Tisdall, Getting Kids into Books
Schools Liaison - Linda Mahony, Ken Bray
NZ Sign Language Interpreters - Kelly Hodgins & Lynnley Pitcher
Publicist - Sally Woodfield, SWPR
Trust Accountant - Rachel Humphrey, KiwiConnect
Production Assistant - Mitchell Turei

Website Design - David Martin
For The PumpHouse - Shelley Kirton, David Martin, Michael Murphy
Box Office - Gill Saker
Producer - Tim Bray, for The Operating Theatre Trust 

Theatre , Children’s , Family ,

1 hr

Quietly enchanting and quite transfixing

Review by Nik Smythe 03rd Jul 2007

Staged by kind permission of the Lindgren Estate, these winter holidays you could do a lot worse than take some kids to Pippi Longstocking at the Pumphouse.  Producer/director Tim Bray once again delivers an decidedly theatrical piece to counteract the extreme sensationalism of most family holiday entertainment.

For those with deprived childhoods, the story goes that an odd looking and physically extremely strong little girl with a funny name comes to stay in Villekula cottage, belonging to her father (allegedly a cannibal king) and mother (who’s now an angel), and proceeds to live life however she jolly well pleases. 

She meets a couple of kids next door and they become best of friends as she introduces them to an entirely outside-the-square approach to the world.  When stiff, by the book grownups try to straighten Pippi up to fly right, she tends to toss them aside, literally.  As a fan of Astrid Lindgren’s classic series, I was curious how they might handle the bit where wee Pippi spins the large heavy blokes above her head.  She doesn’t get to actually spin them, however the solution is delightfully amusing.

The production is quietly enchanting from a technical point of view. The musical numbers, mostly composed Christine White (see credits above) are soft and jolly. The brightly basic, versatile set design accolade goes to Sarah Sauler, who also comes up with the costume designer goods; perfunctory without being boring.

Esther Stevens takes on the title role, surely one most coveted in children’s theatre; the Scarlett O’Hara of the kidult genre.  Her command of the script is sound and she sings very nicely.  Her performance is more or less all on one level and she isn’t terribly convincing as a nine-year old, albeit one as precocious as young Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking, 

Whilst enjoying the script greatly, I felt the full potential of many comic moments were not being reached.  For the grownups – me anyway – the acting overall seems predictable and storybookish, sometimes flat.  There was also some tension in the performances that may be put down to early-season jitters which ought to loosen up after a few shows.

The major exception is Bruce Burfield in the treble roles of Bengt the burly bully, the policeman and Ephraim Longstocking himself, Pippi’s father.  Burfield has characterisation to burn and a most appealing flair for comic aggression.

Wholesome kids next door Tommy and Annika are nicely played by Jonathan Martin and Sophie Henderson.  Despite his considerable height, Martin manages to suspend the most disbelief in terms of portraying a prepubescent child.  Louise Harris capably doubles as the haughty teacher (‘Ma’am’, not ‘you!’) and weedy Willy, victim of the irascible Bengt.

In any case, the children in the audience were quite transfixed, and I reckon the success of the direction and performance can be measured by the youngsters’ silence in the quiet bits. 

For all her charm and humour, Pippi is not really the greatest role model in every respect.  Uptight conservative people can certainly take a lesson from her ability to question what she’s told.  However she is really a terrible listener, she gives up when she doesn’t master something immediately, and she constantly makes everything about herself.  The only other character we really learn anything about is her father.  Despite these controversial elements, excusable by her innocent youth, Pippi is a bona-fide hero with a (self centred) heart of gold.

The upshot of it all is an adequate production which your kids will thank you for taking them to.  One hour sounds like a good length of time for holding children’s attention spans and many appeared to leave wanting more.  Clearly the magic of real people performing in person hasn’t yet been be entirely replaced by the more technological and artificial alternatives.


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