The Enormous Crocodile
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London
Cast: Joanna Adaran, Audrey Brisson, Laura Buhagiar, Malinda Parris, Nuwan Hugh Perera and Elise Zavou 

The Enormous Crocodile is weaving his way through the jungle in search of delicious little fingers and squidgy podgy knees. Only the other jungle creatures can foil his secret plans and clever tricks, but they’re going to have to find a large amount of courage to stop this greedy brute.

This new musical version of Roald Dahl’s picture book has tasty tunes by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab and has a rib-tickling book and lyrics by Suhayla El-Bushra, and additional music and lyrics by Tom Brady.

"The Enormous Crocodile" musical, running at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre until June 8th, 2024, is a delightful and captivating show tailored for young audiences. Based on the beloved 1978 story by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, this production brings the tale of a big, hungry crocodile with a taste for children to life with charm and energy. The crocodile, with his "secret plans and clever tricks," is constantly thwarted by brave jungle animals, culminating in his ultimate downfall when an elephant hurls him into the Sun, sizzling him like a sausage.

Suhayla El-Bushra's book and lyrics stay true to Dahl's original story, with thoughtful changes that enhance the experience and impart additional lessons about courage and the consequences of avoiding responsibilities. The narrative is brought to life by Fly Davis' imaginative set and costume design, which transports the audience into a vibrant jungle. Toby Olie's exceptional puppetry design further elevates the visual spectacle, providing an enchanting experience for the young viewers.

Abdullahi Gallab's music perfectly complements the playful yet occasionally suspenseful mood of the show. The songs are catchy and repetitive in a way that helps young audiences follow the action, despite some opinions that they might be a tad monotonous. While the music is mostly pre-recorded, with only a pianist performing live, this choice is understandable given the small cast of five actors.

Speaking of the cast, their performances are truly impressive. They skilfully juggle multiple roles, develop specific accents for the characters, swiftly change costumes, all while delivering spirited musical numbers. Malinda Parris, as the Enormous Crocodile, blends humor with menace, making the character both scary and oddly endearing. Joanna Adaran shines in her stage debut as Trunky the Elephant, while Elise Zavou deftly handles the dual roles of Muggle-Wump the Monkey and the Teacher. Audrey Brisson and Nuwan Hugh Perera, as Roly-Poly the bird and Humpy-Rumpy the hippo respectively, round out the talented ensemble.

The show also features interactive moments, such as sing-alongs and audience participation, where children help defeat the crocodile by throwing giant nuts at him. These engaging elements are concentrated in the second half, which could benefit from being more evenly distributed throughout the performance to maintain the attention of the youngest attendees.

In conclusion, Emily Lim, in collaboration with the Roald Dahl Story Company, has created a brilliant show that is definitely worth seeing with your young loved ones. Even if you're no longer part of the "young audience" demographic but hold a fondness for the book, this musical is a wonderful way to reconnect with your inner child.

You can book tickets to see The Enormous Crocodile at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, here.

Review by Maria

**photo credit: Johan Persson**

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