A spectacular new stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s family favourite George’s Marvellous Medicine is set to lift the roof off the Cremorne Theatre in January.
Put together by Shake & Stir Theatre Co, the team behind the critically acclaimed Australian production of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts, George’s Marvellous Medicine is action packed with mischief, magic and giant laughs.
If you’ve never read the Dahl classic, the story follows an 8-year-old named boy George who on a good day can’t stand his Grandma. She complains all the time, she’s mean and she smells funny.
One day, wanting to teach his nagging grandma a lesson he concocts a special medicine, greater than any medicine in the history of medicines. Surprisingly enough, the medicine actually works – just not in the way he thought it would.
Director Ross Balbuziente says he is thrilled to bring another one of Roald Dahl’s wonderful works to life.
“Following the success and the demand for Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts we really wanted to turn our attention to another Roald Dahl classic and when looking at his catalogue of works, we wanted to pick a book that hasn’t been adapted in movie form or musical theatre form recently and being that George’s Marvellous Medicine is one of my favourite books it was definitely up there as the next Dahl that we wanted to tackle,” he says.
Ross says he loves George’s Marvellous Medicine so much because he can relate to the story’s mischievous character, George.
“I literally was George – not wanting to explode my grandparents or anything – but you could always find me in the storeroom or kitchen or in an art class at school mixing all the different bits and pieces together,” he says.
“I’m an 80s child and Sizzler salad bars were a big thing back then, I would often go in and mix every single fruit and veg, tomato sauce, ice cream and coke that I could shove into one glass to create my own marvellous concoction.”
In the story, “it’s just so fascinating that George takes a big pot around the house through every room, then into the backyard shed and into the farmhouse and literally pours every single liquid, powder and gooey substance in and boils it up to create this medicine.”
“That disastrous recipe is what I loved as a kid and I loved seeing and reading the effects of the medicine and how grandma swells and shrinks, then elongates and pops through the roof. I found that hilarious and I think that was the biggest appeal to me.”
Ross says although the stage show is an adaptation of Dahl’s work, it’s a faithful one.
“Roald Dahl’s Estate are very strict on who they allow to stage his works and who they allow to adapt the books. Part of why Shake & Stir have been given these rights is because we always want to create a faithful adaptation of the book,” he says.
“The original work is first and foremost, all we’re doing is trying to recreate a visual masterpiece to support the work that Dahl has perfectly coined.”
“It’s a classic and it’s loved for a reason.”
In the show George is played by one of Shake & Stirs Co-artistic Directors, Nick Skubij (same guy who played Dracula earlier this year) who Ross says does an incredible job.
“He’s slightly more mature than 8 years old,” Ross laughs.
“With all of Shake & Stirs productions we always create work that speaks to a young audience, not at them. That’s exactly what Nick does, he takes on the energy of a young character but he’s not trying to mimic one.”
“He really taps into that inner rebel, that mischievous side, because we’re all a little bit naughty aren’t we?”
Ross says although the show is action packed and incredibly fun, choosing George’s Marvellous Medicine as a story did pose some artistic challenges for the crew.
“Our goal was basically to create a live cartoon on stage for audiences,” he says.
“It’s like a rock ‘n’ roll concert for kids and the action does not stop from the second the show starts to the second it finishes, which can be physically and vocally demanding for the cast.”
“Thankfully we’ve got a really great design team and cast who work well together to create a little bit of theatre magic.”
If you are thinking about checking out the show but you a little concerned because don’t have any kids, Ross says the show appeals to people of all ages.
“We aim to create work that has humour and appeals to people across the board, so there are adult jokes in there and there are plenty young jokes too,” he says.
“So many people have contacted us and said ‘I don’t even have kids am I allowed to come?’ Yes, you definitely are! I mean I don’t have kids and I am creating the show.”
“It’s a silly fun way to enjoy your holidays.”
And for those who’ve never read George’s Marvellous Medicine?
“For those that love the book they won’t be disappointed because this is a faithful adaptation of the novel, also for those that have never read the book it will be a beautiful introduction to another Dahl book,” Ross says.
George’s Marvellous Medicine will be playing at QPAC from Wednesday 6 January through to Saturday 23 January. For more information or for tickets visit www.qpac.com.au