BPREVIEW: Grandpa’s Great Escape Live @ Arena Birmingham 23-6.12.19

Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Arena Birmingham

Running from 23rd to 26th December (withstanding Christmas Day), Grandpa’s Great Escape Live gets it’s first on stage outing at Arena Birmingham this Christmas.

Tickets are on sale from £29.50 to £52.25, depending on seating position with Arena Birmingham, with two performances daily – doors opening at 12noon (show at 1pm) and 3pm (show starts at 4pm). There is a further evening performance at 7pm on 23rd December. For direct information, including venue details and online bookings, visit www.arenabham.co.uk/whats-on/grandpas-great-escape

After finishing at Arena Birmingham, Grandpa’s Great Escape Live will be touring the UK until 4th January 2020 – with dates in London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Liverpool. For more on Grandpa’s Great Escape Live, including full tour details and online ticket sales, visit www.grandpasgreatescapelive.co.uk

Since being released in 2015, David Walliams’ children’s story Grandpa’s Great Escape has gone on to sell over 2million copies worldwide. Now, in its live production adaptation, the story of Jack and his titular Grandpa (and escape) come to life on stage – opening at Arena Birmingham this Christmas.

The story is simple: Grandpa is getting older and his behaviour becomes increasingly odd and erratic, to the point where one night he must be coaxed down from the local church roof. Grandpa is suffering with dementia and flits between the present day and his time flying Spitfires in World War II.

Eventually, his family reach their wits’ end and make the decision to send Grandpa off to the appropriately titled old people’s home, Twilight Towers. Alone and confused, Grandpa’s world is ebbing away, both the one in his head and the one at his fingertips. But Jack and Grandpa can still connect and armed with imagination (and the ability to fly a plane) they embark on a final ‘great escape’ – breaking free from Twilight Towers and the self-serving staff at the horrible nursing home.

Since turning his hand to children’s fiction in 2013, David Walliams has released 13 novels – alongside a selection of picture books and short stories. But compared more than once to another great children’s writer, who again could balance the marvellous and macabre, Walliams’ fairy-tales are more than a childish play in the park.

His first book, The Boy in the Dress, addresses gender identity (in both young people and adults) – whilst his second and third books, Mr Stink and Billionaire Boy respectively, tackle the adage that money can’t buy you love. Well, not real love anyway. Grandpa’s Great Escape, Walliams’ eighth children’s book, tackles the issues surrounding dementia and our perceived care for the elderly.

But with fun firmly at their hearts, Walliams’ stories have been embraced by families the world over – with near constant adaptations onto stage and/or screen since his debut back in 2008. Grandpa’s Great Escape was first taken to the small screen – aired on BBC One on New Year’s Day 2018, with Tom Courtney as Grandpa, Kit Connor as Jack, and Jennifer Saunders as Miss Dandy.

This Christmas, Arena Birmingham will welcome the first stage production of Grandpa’s Great Escape Live – before it’s chocks away across the country, with subsequent dates in London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Liverpool.

Nigel Planner will be starring as Grandpa, with Tom Cawte as Jack, and Siobhan Redmond as both Miss Dandy/Reverend Fine.

David Walliams talks about Grandpa’s Great Escape Live

Grandpa’s Great Escape Live comes to Arena Birmingham this Christmas, with shows on 23rd, 24th and 26th December – as presented by Phil McIntyre Entertainments. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.arenabham.co.uk/whats-on/grandpas-great-escape

For more on Grandpa’s Great Escape Live, including full tour details and online ticket sales, visit www.grandpasgreatescapelive.co.uk

For more on Arena Birmingham, including further event listings, visit www.arenabham.co.uk

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