Since it was first published in 1980, the Australian children’s classic There’s A Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake has been in continual print world wide. It has been adapted into cartoon and film and now it is being realised on stage as the musical Hippo! Hippo!
Created by award-winning producer Gary Ginivan, with songs by Mark Jones, the show is a conceptual interpretation of the hugely successful ‘Hippo’ series of books written by Hazel Edwards and illustrated by Deborah Niland.
“It’s a wonderful compliment to an author to have a theatrical production of a story that is 38 years old,” said Edwards.
The original idea for the book came to her after she used the ‘hippo on the roof scenario’ to explain the noise of a roof leak to her children. The book’s popularity spawned a series in which each book “deals with a significant experience in the life of a child where they feel apprehensive and need reassurance”.
Hippo! Hippo! captures the essence of the books without being a literal retelling of the stories. Going into the adaption, Edwards had a lot of confidence and respect for Gary Ginivan and is extremely pleased with the result.
“I love the sound and the colour and all the pacing [of the production]…it’s great when you get someone who takes it into another dimension.”
She says the production quality is very high; the cast have great voices, they play directly to the children and get them emotionally involved.
“There are some very poignant songs… there are moments when you see children – and some of the adults – wiping their eyes.”
And yet, her one word summary of the show is “joyous”. With ten songs, interaction that includes the adults, and even a hippo that tap dances, Edwards insists this is a “must see”.
“This production has been the height of my literary career.”
High praise indeed from an author who has written over 200 books and had enviable success.
Hippo! Hippo! is showing at the Glen Street Theatre. It’s the one with the giant pink hippo on the roof. (RB)
Jul 14–16, various show times. Glen Street Theatre, corner Glen Street and Blackbutts Road, Belrose. $21 ($75 family pass). Tickets & info: glenstreet.com.au or 9975 1455
BY RITA BRATOVICH