The actress chatted to Emma Clarendon about bringing Oi Frog & Friends to the West End.

(c)Pamela Raith Photography

Hi Lucy – thanks for chatting to me. For those who haven’t seen it yet what can they expect from Oi Frog & Friends?  It’s a pleasure Emma!
Anyone who knows the books will find the puppets a superb realisation of popular characters – DOG, FROG and CAT. Our show has captured the spirit of the “Oi!” series and developed it into a fun and surprising narrative with brilliantly written songs. I play CAT – not a puppet but I wear a head-dress
that brilliantly relays CAT’s sardonic gaze and I have a lovely tail to swish about! It’s set it in fictional “Sitting-bottom School for Animals” with Prefect CAT presiding, making sure everyone sits on something that rhymes with their name. Extra fun comes in the form of a “Meerkat TV” News
Reporter, a creation of the show’s writers, reporting on the antics of the at-odds trio throughout. We also have an unforgettable dinner-lady-Cheetah (who is sure to get you on your ‘feet-ah!’) and a host of other animals from the books brought to reality in ways that will amuse and delight family
audiences. As far as style and expectations go, think Muppets meet Vic n Bob alongside faithful visual renderings from the books, including the fateful moment FROG asks CAT:“What do dogs sit on……?” To which CAT replies: “I was hoping you weren’t going to ask that”
It’s a LOT of fun.

What have you enjoyed the most about being part of the production so far? I feel like I am performing in a human cartoon – it has a great energy to it. There is no room forgetting bored in this show, but neither does it assault the senses. One of my favourite moments is when I’m in the wings (having a breather!) listening to the ‘Find A Rhyme’ duet with DOG and FROG, the lyrics are charming and I get to go on after and do a bit of ‘magic’ as a firefly. Plus, I am getting as fit as a flea performing in “Oi Frog”… I should find a pea to sit on…

How does it feel to be bringing the show to the West End? 
Great. Lovely to be on Shaftesbury Avenue at the Lyric and settling in for our Christmas run. You’re near to so much and because our shows are all matinees, I will stand a chance to see other shows and soak up all the vibrancy that the West End offers whether at work or doing my xmas shopping!

What have audience reactions been like as you have been touring it around the UK? Very good. We have heard that the FROG and DOG puppets are so alive for them that actors almost disappear. Plus we have a pre-show at the beginning, where the cast mill amongst the audience
welcoming them to “Sitting-bottom School” and encourage them to think of something that rhymes with their name, which goes down very well. We’ve had some cracking rhymes from the children: ‘Fin sits on a Bin’, “Eva sits on a quaver” and from the adults, some of which get read out at the end.
My favourites so far have been “Dorothy, sits on a majority” and the inspired: “Betsy, sits on a jet- ski”, but my sympathy went to a Dad called ‘Ross’ who sat on a ‘World Cup Loss’ last week!

What do you think makes children’s theatre special? Theatricality and stories going into young minds is so important, you never know what will stay with them and prompt or inspire as a result. I’ve done a lot of family theatre, fairy-tales or folkloric stories for instance originated as warnings and were passed down the generations, but were also for entertainment, of course! I feel theatre is a medium that sets children up for life’s journey by acting out on stage what’s good and bad and all that’s in between in a playful, creative way. It’s social and crucially time away from screen.

If people are thinking about booking a ticket – why should they? So you can see an epic mid-air rescue of FROG by “STUNT-CAT” as he falls off his Tower of Rhymes after a precipice tussle for possession of the RULEBOOK… Who is STUNT-CAT I hear you say..? Come and find out!

By Emma Clarendon

Oi Frog & Friends will play at the Lyric Theatre from the 29th November until the 5th January. Book tickets here.

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