London Defender

The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Actor from Barnet to star in West End show from award-nominated company

An exciting new stage show for children is coming to London at the end of this month.

Tall Stories, the Olivier Award-nominated producers of The Gruffalo, presents the West End premiere of The Snail and the Whale at the Apollo Theatre, performing for a limited run from Saturday, November 30 to Sunday, January 5.

Join an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father as they reimagine the story of a tiny snail’s incredible trip around the world, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book The Snail and the Whale.

Longing to see the world, a tiny sea snail hitches a lift on the tail of a great big, grey-blue humpback whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, brought vividly to life through live music, storytelling and lots of laughs – but when the whale gets beached, how will the snail save him?

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Tim Hibberd, from Friern Barnet, stars in the show as Whale/Father. He has recently finished the UK tour of another popular family production, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, and he has previously performed as the title role of The Gruffalo on tour as well as Templeton in Charlotte’s Web.

We sat down with Tim ahead of the show’s opening on November 30.

Where did you begin your career in theatre?

Haylands County Primary – I played The Prince in ‘The Princess and the Pea’ in a very fetching pair of green tights. My parents still have the photo.

What appeals to you about theatre for children?

It’s a genuine honour to be a child’s introduction to theatre, maybe even to art and culture as a whole. I love the honesty and the immediacy of children’s reactions. If they like the show they’ll talk about it to their adults (during the show). If they don’t, they’ll talk about something else, only louder.

What’s been your favourite role so far?

I loved playing The Shopkeeper in Tall Stories’ Mr. Benn; also Templeton the Rat in Polka Theatre’s Charlotte’s Web which was loud and beautifully flea-ridden. And I also once played a Canadian serial killer on TV. That was fun.

What can audiences expect from the Snail and the Whale?

Travel, adventure, songs, heart break, water pistols, whales, snails, and occasionally a small squid. What more could you ask for?

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What role do you play in the show and what appealed to you about it?

I play the dad. What appealed to me was that the show is based on a children’s book and is full of laughs and silliness (and water pistols). But it’s secretly about dads and daughters and the playing that we hope goes on forever.

What has it been like working with Olivier Award-nominated Tall Stories?

Tall Stories are my favourite theatre company in the country and this is my 4th show with them. They supply malted milk biscuits in rehearsals and once looked after me in a hospital in Hong Kong when I got poisoned by a piece of fruit.

The show is being performed throughout December – what are your Christmas plans?

Wait up till 2am on Christmas morning so I can sneak stockings into my kids ‘ rooms (Santa leaves them in the fireplace downstairs – he’s a busy man). Breakfast. Iron shirt (optional). My parents, sisters and niece will join me my wife and our 13-year-old twins at our house. There will be games and kazoos and turkey and nut loaf and Doctor Who and quizzes. Then it’s a boxing day trip to see the new Star Wars film, whether anyone else wants to go or not.

Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EZ, Saturday, November 30 to Sunday, January 5. Details: 0330 333 4809