What might at first glance appear to be (for adults who are ever so grown up at least) no more than a wince inducing caper, is for millions of children a comedic masterpiece led by a genius jester. If CBeebies is a preschooler’s Avalon then Justin Fletcher with his creation, Mr Tumble, is Sir Lancelot. Teaming up with this year’s Manchester International Festival for the world premiere of The Tale of Mr Tumble, this show is going to be one Holy Grail for tots in the city.
Clearly taking joy from his role as a children’s entertainer, Justin Fletcher is famed for a host of CBeebies programming. He’s responsible for Justin’s House, Timmy Time, Gigglebiz and Something Special. He recently provided the voice for Shaun in the movie Shaun the Sheep and his recent arena tour of Justin & Friends: Mr Tumble’s Circus played to packed crowds across the UK. Justin has been awarded the BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Presenter on three occasions as well as being made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2008.
From a young age, Fletcher was intrigued by silent comedy and the sort of slapstick found in Laurel and Hardy. It shows in his multitude of characters – Nana Knickerbocker, Gail Force, Keith Fitt, Professor Muddles, Farmer Dung. But it is Mr Tumble who has become an icon in the preschool world. The brightly coloured, sign-language using clown is the star of Something Special, created for children with special educational needs, but crosses over to appeal to all.
The Tale of Mr Tumble, created as a new commission for Manchester International Festival, will travel back in time to let the audience follow the journey from bouncing baby Tumble (already with bright red nose in place) through his singing and dancing school years, right up to the present day.
We’ll expect nothing less than a high energy, funny, engaging, shriek inducing, romp of course. We’re promised songs new and old and plenty of opportunities for audience participation!
Justin Fletcher will be joined on stage by Ronni Ancona as Miss Eerie the Headmistress – a force to reckoned with who likes to take things very, very seriously. Other cast members will include Samuel Buttery, Samantha Dorrance, Connor Elliott, Lizzie Franks, Tom Mackley, Nicholas McLean, Samuel Parker, Katia Sartini, Kai Savage and Ben Stock. The company will be joined on stage by a Makaton signing choir made up of local school children who will perform alongside their hero Mr Tumble.
When Mr Tumble honks his nose, every kid in the room will be howling with laughter. After all, Mr Tumble is always Something Special.