Tom England on touring Princess Smartypants

Adapted by The Wardrobe Ensemble from the books by Babette Cole, Princess Smarypants is the tale of a princess who doesn’t want to get married. The family show opens at The Watermill Theatre in Newbury this week before touring to The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol, the Arts Depot in Finchley and the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith.

With a cast comprised of Tom England, Jesse Meadows, Eva Redman and Alicia Vilanculo, under the direction of Tom Brennan, it promises to be a comedy for all the family. Ahead of opening night, we caught up with England, who is an associate artist at The Wardrobe Ensemble, to find out more about the production.

Q&A with Tom England

How did The Wardrobe Ensemble come to adapt Princess Smartypants?

We are working alongside the brilliant Wayward Productions to bring Princess Smartypants to life and it was actually Judith Dimant, who heads up Wayward, that brought the show to us many years ago (back in 2020). She thought that we could do justice to the chaotic, anarchic feeling of Princess Smartypants books and we hope we don’t disappoint!

What can you tell us about Princess Smartypants?

The show is a fun filled explosion of music, dancing, and silliness, with 3 multi-rolling performers joined on stage by a live drummer. Babette Cole wrote a great number of books in the Princess Smartypants series, but this show focuses on the very first that she wrote, where the young Princess outwits and dumbfounds several Princes attempting to win her hand in marriage. It is a brilliant story that encourages young people to embrace who they are and, at its heart, is about independence and empowerment. It is a privilege to bring such a message to young audiences.

What can audiences expect from the show?

Audiences can expect a high octane, ambitious, energised piece of theatre for young people and families. The show itself is overflowing with live music, singing, dancing, plenty of chaos, and oodles of silliness. It is a joy to perform and, I hope, even better to be in the audience to see it all unfold.

What’s it like to be taking the show on tour?

Presenting work for young people never fails to disappoint. Knowing that you are performing to children that may never have been to the theatre before is a privilege. On top of that, bringing a show like this to life, a show that is this absurd, ridiculous, chaotic, and joyous is brilliant. It’s amazing hearing the children laugh their socks off, scream at the silly toad prince, and jump for joy at the real hero of our story!

Is there anything you hope audiences take away from the show?

We hope that the show empowers all those watching to truly embrace who they are and encourages them to be bold and adventurous just like the princess at the centre of our story.

Princess Smartypants tours from 4 April to 1 June 2024