Joyful hit musical The Three Billy Goats Gruff plays Chichester's Minerva Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre’s new artistic director Justin Audibert brings his production of Stiles and Drewe’s joyful hit musical The Three Billy Goats Gruff to the Minerva Theatre this Christmas (December 14-January 7).
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Alongside a busy Christmas programme including Jungle Book from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre on the main-house stage, it means – Justin is delighted to say – that the CFT is catering this Christmas for everyone from three and up. The Three Billy Goats Gruff plays Chichester on the back of a hugely successful run at the Unicorn Theatre last Easter.

“Years and years ago I worked on a Stiles and Drewe show as an associate, their version of Peter Pan but then Anthony Drewe had a flat right around the corner from the Unicorn Theatre and one day he went to the stage door and said ‘Can I have a meeting with Justin? I worked with him a long time ago.’ We had a lovely meeting and from that meeting he said ‘I have got three shows that are for children that George and I did.’ The Three Billy Goats Gruff was one of them and it had never been done in England before. They had been commissioned by, I think, Singapore Rep and it had been performed in Singapore but never in England. I listened to them and I absolutely loved The Three Billy Goats Gruff. When I was a child it was one of those stories that really stayed with me. I remember we went to a place called Chipping Ongar in Essex where there were goats by a bridge, and my dad told me that there was a troll there as well! The story has always stayed with me.

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“But also the great thing about Stiles and Drewe is that they can really write a tune. They write brilliantly in a variety of styles. They can do pop songs and they can do musical numbers and there's even a fun disco troll number. There's a troll doing a kind of Tom Jones/ Barry White disco number. And what is great for the children is that what you want is an array of characters where the children can see themselves in those characters. You've got the three goats. You've got the cute adorable baby goat and you've got the middle one that thinks that they're not afraid and then you’ve got the older goat who is wiser and more sensible. It just covers all the bases. But also the music is just really catchy, and the troll is just the right bit of scary. It opens with a pre-show with the troll on stage and the children get to know him a little bit, and the children get to love him in the same way that children get to love the villain in a panto. It's a very different kind of show but it's the same kind of idea.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Pic by Helen MurrayThe Three Billy Goats Gruff. Pic by Helen Murray
The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Pic by Helen Murray

“The show is 50 minutes and it's pretty much scored all the way through and you get some fantastic dance sequences but also the lovely thing is that the parents really love it and that's what you want. The whole thing is about working together and being brave and facing your fears. That's the messaging. The goats disobey the farmer by going to the other side and they learn not to put themselves at risk by doing that but really it's just a lot of fun and I've got most of the cast from the last time.”