Puddin' on a show: Aussie classic comes to life

Classic Australian humour will bring the botanic gardens to life when The Magic Pudding hits town in a fortnight.

The Mildura Theatre Company is staging a special interactive version of the famed adaptation, following the adventures of a potty-mouthed mischievous Magic Pudding and its owners, in the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, at Mourquong.

The Magic Pudding is based on the much-loved children classic written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay, which director Naomi James lauded as “one of the greatest historical Australian stories of all time”.

“The audience will become part of the show without realising it,” Ms James said.

“The fact that we meander our way through the gardens along with the actors makes it very interactive and magical.”

The revival of The Magic Pudding follows the success of the MTC’s last outdoor version of another family favourite, James and the Giant Peach, in 2007.

Ms James said performing The Magic Pudding would be a treat for the garden’s 21st anniversary.

“We work to entice and engage an audience in completely different surroundings,” she said.

“It is (different from) sitting in an audience with a stage.”

The theatrical passion of Ms James, who has clocked up two decades in the industry, results in quirky twists in the play.

“Every production I’ve ever directed, I’ve made it something to remember – there’s always something different, whether it’s the environment, the sets, the costumes, the music,” she said.

“My quirkiness comes through in those things and gives the production a whole other level of life, as opposed to just being locked into a traditional stage environment.

“The atmosphere is always abuzz when working in unrestricted spaces.”

Pudding puppeteer Nicholas Stamp said the play was a throwback to the old bush humour.

“It is a tale that every Australian child has grown up with,” Mr Stamp said.

“That makes this a play for young and old.

“Children love the cheeky humour of the characters while adults can reminisce about their own childhood.”

Ian McMahon, who plays Bill Barnacle and has been acting since 1998, said the theatre served as a cathartic release from his job as a teacher.

“It’s therapy – I can have a shocking day, then come along here and leave it all behind,” Mr McMahon says.

Mildura South primary teacher Cassandra Bicker, who plays penguin Sam Sawnoff, calls The Magic Pudding “an Australian classic”.

“It is a very funny show and the costumes are awesome,” she said.

The Magic Pudding will be presented on May 24, 25, 26 and 31 and June 1 and 2 at the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens. Performances start at 7pm.

The 100 tickets for each show can be pre-booked through the Mildura Visitor Information and Booking Centre on 5018 8380.

This article appeared in Monday's Sunraysia Daily 14/5/12

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