Rudyard Kipling Just So Stories, a collection of short stories about the origins of different animals, was first published in 1902. In 1984, Stiles & Drewe adapted five of them for their musical Just So. As he mounts a brand-new actor-musician production, starting performances tonight at Cirencester’s Barn Theatre, director Kirk Jameson tells us why the stories still resonate and what to expect onstage. Time to get booking!
After the success of their inaugural production The Secret Garden, the Barn presents another much-loved, family musical in a new actor-musician production for its Christmas special. George Stiles and Anthony Drewe‘s Just So, inspired by Rudyard Kipling, runs from 5 December 2018 to 13 January 2019, with a press night on 10 December.
In Just So, five of Kipling’s short stories are woven together into a wondrous tale of personal courage, individuality and friendship. The Eldest Magician is creating all the animals. Everything is Just So until Pau Amma the Crab starts playing with the ocean, which causes the land to flood, putting the other animals in danger. While the rest of the animals accept their sad fate, Elephant’s Child embarks on a journey to challenge and overcome the disobedient crab. Along the way, he meets other creatures and discovers how they came to be the way they are.
A colourful and uplifting show, described as a designer’s dream come true, Just So has a key underlying message: that one determined individual can make a real difference in this world.
In Kirk Jameson‘s new production, Lewis Cornay is Elephant’s Child and Molly Lynch is Kolokolo Bird, along with Duncan Drury, Dylan Wynford, Evie Rose Lane, Grant Urquhart, Imogen Halsey, Kiran Patel, Michaela Stern and Rosalind Ford. Matthew Kelly provides the Voice of Pau Amma The Crab.
Just So runs 5 December 2018 to 13 January 2019 at The Barn, 5 Beeches Road, Cirencester GL7 1BN. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 6pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £22-£30. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
— Kirk Jameson (@Jamesontweets) October 20, 2018
Talking to… Director Kirk Jameson
Just So isn’t Kirk Jameson‘s only musical involving animals this year. He’s also helmed the major new adaptation of Dreamworks’ hit animated film Madagascar, which is currently on tour starring X Factor winner Matt Terry. Jameson’s many other musical credits include Privates on Parade, Annie Get Your Gun, The World Goes ‘Round, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Dames at Sea, The Last Five Years, Floyd Collins, Pipe Dream, The Great American Trailer Park Musical and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Why do Rudyard Kipling’s stories still resonate?
They may have been written for a younger audience, but the Just So Stories take on some pretty mammoth themes. Like Roald Dahl and JK Rowling today, Rudyard Kipling used his stories to prepare children for the challenges of adult life.
As with every new generation, children often look to their elders for guidance and subsequently inherit their views. But it’s only by questioning these views and starting a new dialogue that changes for the better can start.
Just like the inquisitive elephant’s child in our story, Kipling encourages his readers to ask questions about the world in which we find themselves and challenge why things are just so. Over a century after they were written, however, despite many positive changes, there is still work to be done and we depend on future generations to ask some “silly questions” of their own…
What should the audience expect from Just So?
Christmas is very often a time that families go to the theatre. Rudyard Kipling was the Roald Dahl of his day, and his stories were the cornerstone or pathway for children connecting with the theatre. These books in musical format replicate this sense of adventure and discovery.
Age-wise, this show has definitely been constructed for a family audience – there is a lot for children to enjoy, but also there are lots of subtle nuances that work for the adults too. Like any classy Disney film or book, there’s a great deal of entertainment in there for everyone – it’s most definitely child-friendly. Just So is the first big professional production where very young children have the opportunity to connect with the theatre.
This isn’t your first time working with the Barn Theatre. What keeps you coming back?
I’m really excited to be working with the Barn Theatre on this Christmas production. I first worked with artistic director Iwan Lewis on West Side Story in 2016, and he was talking about the early development of the Barn Theatre in Cirencester. I felt excited as a young director to be actively involved in the launch and so coming back two years later to this fully functioning theatre is so exciting and rewarding.