Hetty Feather

Previewed 5 August 2014, Opened 6 August 2014, Closed 6 September 2014 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London
Returned 6 August 2015, Closed 6 September 2015 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London

The acclaimed stage version of Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather in London at the Duke of York's Theatre for a strictly limited season of just 40 performances during the August school holidays - back in the West End following a hugely successful summer season last year.

Roll up and join Hetty on her escape from the Foundling Hospital! Tremble as she faces Matron Stinking Bottomly, thrill as she discovers the squirrel house and Tanglefields Travelling Circus, quake as she braves the scary streets of Victorian London and cheer as she overcomes all in her search to find her real mother and a true family of her own. Featuring circus skills and a huge heart, this terrific adventure story is the perfect treat for the whole family. Recommended for ages 7 plus.

Adapted by Emma Reeves from the novel by Jacqueline Wilson, this production is directed by Sally Cookson with aerial direction by Gwen Hales, designs Katie Sykes, costumes by Jennie Falconer, lighting by Aideen Malone, sound by Leigh Davies, music by Benji Bower and additional music by Seamas H Carey and Luke Potter. This production comes into London's West End as part of an acclaimed UK tour. Emma Reeves' West End stage adaptations include Donn Pearce's Cool Hand Luke (Aldwych Theatre 2011), Nina Bawden's Carrie's War (Apollo Theatre 2009) and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (Duchess Theatre 2004). Sally Cookson's London directing credits include Michael Rosen's We're Going On A Bear Hunt (Lyric Theatre 2013 and Duchess Theatre 2009) and Boing! (Lilian Baylis Studio 2013). The original 2014 production was staged at the Vaudeville Theatre where it previewed on 5 August, opend on 6 August 2015 and closed on 6 September 2015. The cast featured Phoebe Thomas as 'Hetty Feather' with Matt Costain, Sarah Goddard, Paul Mundell, Isaac Stanmore and Nikki Warwick.

"The show tells of Hetty being reluctantly parked by her foster mother in Victorian London’s Foundling Hospital, and how she escapes to join the circus. The children are all played by adults – occasionally confusingly so – and director Sally Cookson stages the story as a circus act on a giant frame. The cast swing on rings and deliver half the show from above the stage, the aerial stuff matching Hetty’s yearning for freedom. It’s sad and funny by turns, with quirky live music by Benji Bower... If the show is half an hour overlong, it doesn’t stop this being a good evening out, though perhaps more for fans of the book." The Mail on Sunday

"This transformation of Jacqueline Wilson's children's book is a real treat. And not just for ardent, existing fans: we're all won over by Hetty Feather , a hot-tempered but good-hearted Victorian orphan... Director Sally Cookson and adapter Emma Reeves winkle out dramatic potential, using a visit to a circus as their blueprint: full of aerial work, the show finds correlatives for Hetty's flights of fancy and impetuous 'adventuring' in having the cast scamper up ladders and twirl down silks... Wilson's plot makes a strong case for the power of invention and the magic of storytelling - both of which the production delivers on spectacularly." The Independent

"Jacqueline Wilson has written 100 books for children, but Hetty Feather is her favourite. And having just been gripped, wowed, amused and reduced to a warm puddle of tears by this spectacular stage adaptation from the director Sally Cookson and the playwright Emma Reeves, I can see why. Hetty Feather is a heartfelt yarn about a spirited Victorian girl who longs for her real mother... We get songs, acrobatics and humour in a sharp evocation of childhood that tackles big themes — home, love, identity — without ever neglecting to spin a good yarn. This joy for all ages rivals Matilda the Musical as a family show worthy of the West End." The Times

"Fans of Jacqueline Wilson's exuberant red-haired 19th-century heroine, Hetty, who is left by her mother at the Foundling hospital, falls in love with the idea of the circus, rejects a future mapped out for her as a servant girl and dreams of being reunited with her mother, are unlikely to be disappointed by this page-to-stage adaptation. It does the job, and very efficiently, too. Emma Reeves's script packs in all the key events, and Sally Cookson's production and Katie Sykes's terrific design take their cue from the story's circus element." The Guardian

Jacqueline Wilson said regarding this stage adaptation: "I am so pleased. I don't ever think as I'm writing a book, 'Oh yes, this would make a fantastic stage play or television series'. But once I'd finished Hetty Feather and I saw the response from children – and I was a little anxious because I usually write contemporary stories – and how they seemed to accept the Victorian setting and actually to glory in it, Hetty almost immediately became very popular indeed. So the idea that now she's going to be on the stage is perfect. It's lovely in that producer Mark Bentley, who originated the whole idea, kept in touch with everything and wrote me delightful letters and postcards, so I knew all along the different stages. I was thrilled when Emma Reeves came on board to do the script because she has done scripts for The Story Of Tracy Beaker, The Return Of Tracy Beaker and all the rest on television. I'd met her several times, knew her work and also very much admired Emma's adaptation of Carrie's War, which is how I met Mark in the first place. And director Sally Cookson's way of developing plays is very exciting, so it's great that she's on board too."

Hetty Feather in London at the Duke of York's Theatre opens on 6 August 2015 and closed on 6 September 2015.