Worthing/Fontwell dates for Tom's Midnight Garden the ballet

Outdoor dance company Frankly Speaking Productions will bring ballet magic to Sussex gardens this summer with an open-air tour of Tom’s Midnight Garden.

Frances Livesey
Frances Livesey

Dates include:

July 14-15 – Beach House Grounds (Worthing), 3pm and 6pm

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July 16 – Denmans Garden, 4.30pm and 6.30pm

Producer Frances Livesey said: “Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce’s classic tale of the boy who wakes up to a world of adventure when a mysterious grandfather clock strikes 13, has been a favourite of readers since it was first published over half a century ago. Now, for the first time, the story will be told through ballet, on tour through some of the UK’s most beautiful and celebrated garden spaces this summer.

“This new open-air, Covid-secure production set off on tour in late June, with the show running until early August. Sussex destinations include the much-loved Southover Grange Gardens in Lewes, Italian Gardens in Eastbourne and Sussex Archeological Society’s Michelham Priory among many others.”

Frances added: “Tom’s Midnight Garden is an unforgettable story from so many of our childhoods. It’s simply one of those stories we fall in love with again and again.

“But adaptations have rarely been seen in the old garden settings similar to those that inspired Philippa Pearce’s novel. Moreover, the story, from its epic ascents to the ever-memorable scene where Tom and Hatty skate through the frozen Fens, almost seems made for ballet — and yet has never been told through dance before. So this feels like a really special project.”

The production tells the story of Tom Long, a young boy exiled to his aunt and uncle’s apartment while his brother recovers from measles. Stuck inside with only his aunt and uncle for company and no garden to play in, Tom fears that his holidays are doomed.

However, as he lies awake at night and hears the old grandfather clock bizarrely strike 13, the gloomy building reveals a multitude of enchanting secrets full of magic and adventure.

Tom’s Midnight Garden has previously been adapted for film in the 1999 motion picture directed by Willard Carroll, as well as for TV in 1968, 1974 and 1988 by the BBC and for the stage in 2001 by David Wood.

“The show is perfect for children of all ages, and for adults too. It’s a show designed to be loved regardless of your age,” Frances said. “And it’s a celebration of the spaces we’re performing in as well. Michelham Priory, for example, is a fabulous example of an English country garden, including a moat, sweeping lawns and beautifully laid flower beds.”

Frankly Speaking Productions’ desire to continue to help drive the performing arts industry safely forward despite the coronavirus pandemic led to a successful ballet tour of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen in winter 2020.

“Now, as life slowly regains a sense of normality, Frankly Speaking seeks to reintroduce the public to the joy of the performing arts and bring people together with the magic of one of Britain’s most celebrated pieces of children’s literature.”

All performances are Covid-secure and strictly adhere to government guidelines. Tickets at www.franklyspeakingproductions.co.uk.