Monday, 22 September 2014

Octonauts Live! Direcor Q & A, and TICKET GIVEAWAY!

Top-selling children’s stage show producers Fiery Light today announce a brand new full-length theatre ad-venture for children, Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure

Based on the popular CBeebies’ TV show, Octonauts, this exciting new production opens at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, on Thursday 16 Oc-tober and tours into 2015.

In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid ex-plorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. 
This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

Richard Lewis adapts and directs this new production for the stage. He also adapted and directed the hugely popular three Peppa Pig stage shows and last year’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom tour. Matt Lewis is lyricist, Simon Scullion is designer, Matt Haskins is lighting designer and Ian Horrocks Taylor is sound de-signer.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure is produced by live children’s show supremos Fiery Light (joint venture by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions), the team also behind the recent tours of the three successful Peppa Pig stage shows. Their most recent – Peppa Pig’s Big Splash - is currently on tour. It has broken box office records for a pre-school show and will return to the West End for fifth consecutive Christ-mas season at the Criterion Theatre this year. 

Other Fiery Light productions include the recent tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, LazyTown Live! and Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interac-tive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’

For tour information please go to


In recent years Richard Lewis has become one of the country’s leading talents in the creation of high quality children’s theatre, in particular adapting and directing shows which started their lives on television. 

Back in January 2014 when you were interviewed by the Daily Telegraph about your current theatre production Peppa Pig’s Big Splash, you mentioned that most popular children's TV programmes want a stage show. What made you choose Octonauts as suitable for a stage production?

There are a variety of things my team and I look for in projects. Perhaps first and foremost we’ve got to be excited by it. If we haven’t got that, everything else will probably fail. Octonauts is a great adventure and really suits a stage adaptation – vis-ually it’s impressive and it’s got some great characters in it. Perhaps most of all it’s got an important message to deliver: the protection of the seas and the natural envi-ronment.

How closely do you have to work with the original producers of these children’s TV programmes?

It is essential that we have a very close collaboration with the originators of these children’s TV shows. They are the original source of enthusiasm, ideas and energy for the world that they have created and they are the people to guide us on the adapta-tion process. Sometimes I refer to them as ‘The Gods’ of the Peppa world, the Octo-nauts world, etc. 

The choices they make, the characters they develop and the narra-tives they choose are all a reflection of what they hope to achieve. One of our key roles is to ‘get inside’ the world of the TV show and understand it in a truthful and fundamental way. If we fail to do this, we will never accurately represent what they hope for on stage.

Initially, they will send detailed information on the characters, the environments, the imagery and the core values of the show. Then follows a brainstorm session where we will explore some of the opportunities that the live show might be able to represent.

Armed with the ideas from that session I will attempt to distil them down to a single page synopsis that is viable in theatre terms. After some more discussion, I am able to write a first draft and then finally produce a rehearsal script. Work can then begin with set designers, lyricists, composers and a whole range of other people to start ex-ploring the ideas of the script.

TV Octonauts is a visual underwater feast and full of fast-paced adventure, sea vehi-cles and ocean creatures. How do you represent that in the stage production?

When turning TV animations into stage shows you have to be true to the core material and with Octonauts, as you say, the fast-moving adventure is a critical part of that. It is important therefore to ensure these elements are an integral part of the stage show. To do this we use a mixture of formats that include large-scale projections to represent the sea and show the scale of adventure the Octonauts are undertaking. For action in the sea we also use a mixture of black light and UV puppetry. We have cos-tume characters which accurately reflect the shape and size of the screen characters. But crucially, we make sure the costume characters have mouths that can speak di-rectly to the audience so that we can include natural interactivity with the families watching. Once you’ve decide these core principles, you then have to assemble around you a production and stage management crew that can deliver all of these as-sets.

How does it compare to the creation of the Peppa stage shows which you also adapted and directed?

All the adaptations have challenges in their own right which come from the content material. In the case of Peppa, retaining the intimacy and the childish fun was crucial to the show. It very much focuses on family values, Peppa’s relationships with her friends and other events in her immediate environment. With Octonauts the focus is on broader themes: environmental damage, saving sea life and working with others as a team to achieve a goal. Additionally, the Octonaut scenarios are set in a more complicated environment, they are either under the sea or in an area that is more technically difficult to reproduce and they can involve fast-paced stage action se-quences. You can see then that the core material of each of these TV shows is funda-mentally different in style, making each show unique in itself.

Do you prefer directing children's theatre productions to more grown up theatre pro-ductions? Why?

Perhaps the thing I like the best about directing the children’s shows is that I also get the opportunity to adapt them in the first place and then direct them in the rehearsal room afterwards. With the ‘grown up’ shows you tend to be given a script that has been written by someone else and you apply a directorial interpretation to someone else’s work. In the case of the children’s shows, you are applying your own interpreta-tion to your own adaptation. In this way, you are able to develop the ideas that you had at the script stage even further when you come to present them visually on stage.

Perhaps the other exciting thing I find about children’s shows is that there is always a level of interactivity with the audience that you don’t have with the ‘grown up’ shows. By having this connection with the audience you are able to offer a type of involve-ment that sometimes doesn’t happen with the ‘grown up’ productions. Also, as every-one tells you, children can be your harshest critics. If they are bored or unhappy they will stand up and run around or just make a noise so one of the greatest challenges is
often to find the focus for their concentration levels and ensure that they are continu-ally engaged by the show. This is a real challenge.

Do you have to use your inner child to transfer the production from screen to theatre?
It’s actually a very good question. Every adult still retains an inner child; it just de-pends on what access that adult has been able to retain to that child over the years. Sometimes they’ve been worn down by responsibility, by work, by events that happen in their life and have lost the capacity for that innocence which so reflects young chil-dren. When I was young I’m sure I was always an inquisitive child and always wanted to know why things happened, what made things worked, why was the sea blue and how do the stars sparkle….and although in my adult life those questions have changed I still retain an enquiring mind about everything around me. Hopefully also I’ve re-tained a sense of humour and imagination. 
These things together and have allowed me to look at the adaptations, the script and stage work through the eyes of a child. One of the things I find most fascinating is watching the first audiences that we have for a show because they will tell you instantly when things are not working or when things are going wrong. At those moments it’s quite possible for me to instantly un-derstand what is wrong because they have shown me how to see the project again through their eyes.

What's your next project?
Well, we continue to represent Peppa Pig Live tours worldwide and we have produc-tions in Australia, Spain, Italy and shortly in Latin America and the US. Currently I’ve just completed the first synopsis for what we call, Peppa Pig 4….but will probably be called Peppa Pig’s Surprise. Peppa Pig’s Surprise will have its world premiere in the UK in October 2015 and then will go out for a 50 week tour. We have a new production of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom touring from March 2015. Beyond this we’re also work-ing with some other major brands on developing projects for them but nothing that we can announce yet.


To be in with a chance of winning a family ticket for four to the show of your choice, just comment below with your email address and the answer to the following question:

What is the name of The Octonauts Captain?

Terms & Conditions:

A family ticket is for four people, minimum one adult. The tickets are non-transferable. There are no cash alternatives, accommodation or travel included in this prize.

Winner announced on 10th October....Good Luck!

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Heading for Autumm

With September almost over, there's no denying it....Summer is behind us and although the warm weather seems set to cling on for a little while longer we will soon be heading into those colder, darker months.

But as much as I'll miss days spent at the beach, sunglasses and sipping on iced's not all bad....Autumn has it's own delights to offer.

One of my favourite things about the arrival of Autumn is heading off to coffee shops, all wrapped up snug and warm, and enjoying a pumpkin spice latte!

Hallowe'en and bonfire night are always big events to look forward to for me, and I'm already planning Tyne's Hallowe'en outfit in my mind! (I think we'll stick to just the one this year, rather than the 3 he had last year!)

And for me of course, it means that its time to bring out the jumpers!

I LOVE Autumnal fashion, it appeals to me so much more than summer wear....particularly now that I`m expecting....I'm lucky as I`m expecting at pretty much exactly the same time of year I was having Tyne, so all of the maternity jumpers and leggings I wore two years ago can be used again....but I'll still want to treat myself to some new ones of course.


I've got my eye on these ones from Wool Lovers to start with!

I love the colours all around as the leaves begin to fall and I'm looking forward to taking Tyne for walks and letting him kick his way through piles of them, hunt for conkers, and so on.

There's lots to look forward to as summer draws to a close....what are your favourite things about Autumn?

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Always on the Run? Three quick meal ideas for you

Sometimes it seems there isn’t enough time in the day to eat at all, let alone cook a healthy and fulfilling meal. With work more commonly intruding on our leisure time, daily activities start to conflict and something needs to be left by the way side. Eating properly is often the first thing to suffer and we find ourselves more often than not living off unhealthy and expensive take-away. But that needn’t be the case. There are quite a few options open to the busiest among us to find the time to cook something quickly.
While many people don’t realize it, some of the most healthy quick meals can be prepared on a barbecue or small grill. They heat up faster and cook more evenly than a domestic oven, and can cater for a surprising variety of different foods. If you don’t own one, visit a Barbeques Galore outlet and you’ll no doubt find a Ziegler & Brown grill to suit your needs.
Once you’ve got your grill set up, all you need to do is put together a portfolio of quick, easy and healthy recipes. Here are three favourites to get you on your way.

Steak and salad

A nice grilled sirloin salad is a great dish that combines the delights of a tender steak with the healthy attributes of a vegetable or even fruit salad. The recipe for this is so simple. Grill the steak to your liking while you put together your salad. Cut the meat when you think it is ready and place it on top of the salad. Hot meat on top of a cold salad might seem an odd combination, but it works! You might also like to add a red wine vinaigrette for a little extra tang.

A chicken favourite

Cooking a skewer of chicken and zucchini with almond salsa verde sounds way more complicated than it actually is. The key is the salsa sauce made up of parsley, almonds, lemon rind, capers chives, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. This can be made up before hand and stored for use later. Simply coat the chicken and zucchini in the mixture, place on skewers and grill. Add a salad of your choice.

Seafood delight

Who doesn’t like a bit of seafood, especially as the warmer months start to approach? This simple barbecued lime prawn and corn recipe will have anyone who tastes it coming back for more. Best of all, its cooked in foil on the grill so there is virtually no cleaning up after you’ve finished. You can even eat out of the foil to save on washing up. Simply wrap the corn and shrimp in foil along with seasonings like lime, soy sauce, honey, and coriander and cook for 10 minutes – and you’re done! Keep some fresh bread handy – you’re not going to want to let the tasty juices left behind go to waste.
These are just three of the more popular recipes for quick and healthy meals. But there are many more out there. Once you see how easy it is, you may never line up at the local drive-through again.

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Friday, 19 September 2014

A Boyfriend-Friendly Guide to Buying Flowers

If you’re after a bunch of flowers for your girlfriend but haven’t really got a clue what you’re looking for, where to get them or what type you should go for, we’re here to help.

We’ve put a foolproof guide together for getting your girlfriend the perfect flowers to put a smile on her face, and of course, to get you firmly into her good books.

Think about what she’d really like

As mentioned, there are loads of different varieties of flowers and different set-ups that you can get from florists, from single red roses to massive lavish bouquets containing every flower imaginable. Think about her tastes; whether she likes simplicity, frivolousness, or just simply what sort of colours she likes. The more you know, the easier it will be to decide. Talk to the florist and ask their opinion based on what you know about her and what she likes.

Look at all the options available

As briefly mentioned above, look at the types of bouquets or displays you can buy for her. Things to consider in particular include things like whether they come with a vase (after all, if she’s got nowhere to put this lavish bouquet, that’s a bit of a spoiler) and whether they come completely gift wrapped.

What sort of gesture do you want to make?

The gesture you want to make is important to think about, and you shouldn’t be afraid to confess to the florist...they’ll have the heard the whole ‘I need some flowers to say sorry to my girlfriend’ line a million times before. If you want to just put a smile on her face at work, for example, go for a pretty bouquet of sunny coloured flowers to brighten up her desk, or if you’re after a romantic gesture, you can’t go wrong with a pink/red based one, using lots of roses, etc.

Understand what flowers mean what message or symbol

Different flowers do actually have different meanings, and therefore they can mean different things to different people. There is a useful run down of what different flowers mean here
 that’s well worth having a look at, as even popular flowers like lilies actually have quite a negative connotation (they’re often used in funeral processions).

What’s your budget (and what can you get for it)?

Flowers of a decent quality are quite expensive, but they’re one of those things where it is worth paying a little bit more so you know the quality you’ll be getting. If your budget is a little on the
modest side, opt for a smaller bit still really good quality one instead of a big one that’s cheaper (but not as high in quality).

How and when do you want her to receive them? You can order a florist delivery for her which is nice as that will be a total surprise, and you can choose when you get them to deliver them. Or you could also obviously give her them yourself as part of a big gesture or just to show you care!

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Win £30.00 to spend at Yorkshire Linen

I personally think that a persons bedroom should be their own little hideaway.

A space that they can truly relax and feel peaceful in.

When I moved into this house over a year ago, I knew that I wanted my bedroom to be all white.

I first discovered the serenity of all-white rooms a couple of years ago when I visited a hypnotherapist...the session took place in her home and her living room was decorated completely in white.

White sofa, white cushions, white walls, white rug....the room immediately gave a sense of peace and calm, and I just fell in love with it.

Of course, having small children at home, white it not a practical colour for a living room....but your bedroom is the ideal place to try it out, and this is surely where you need to feel your most peaceful in order to sleep well at night.

If you're reluctant to go all white, perhaps try a combination of with another lighter colour such as grey or silver.

This look is so easy to create, and it doesn't need to cost the earth.

Just a simple white bedding set can really set the tone for the bedroom, this Baltic Grey and White set from Yorkshire Linen is ideal:

There are also many smaller touches you can add to a bedroom without breaking the bank, the following from Yorkshire Linen are ideal: 

Boston Voile Panel - from £9.99

If you'd like a helping hand in making over your bedroom, take a look at this fab competition in collaboration with Yorkshire Linen.


Yorkshire Linen are offering one lucky Sparkles & Stretchmarks reader the chance to win £30.00 credit for their website!

All you need to do is complete the Rafflecopter form below.

Competition is open to UK entrants only and ends on 30th September...Good Luck!

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