Off Stage

Bringing the Gruffalo to life

Actor Aaron Millard in his Gruffalo costume.
Actor Aaron Millard in his Gruffalo costume.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Actor Aaron Millard plays the title role in the stage adaptation of the beloved children's book

British actor Aaron Millard will be playing the titular monster in ABA Productions and Tall Stories' stage production of The Gruffalo at KidsFest Singapore 2016. The show runs from Jan 21 to 24.

The story is adapted from British writer Julia Donaldson's award- winning children's book of the same name about a mouse who outwits its predators, including a monster called a Gruffalo.

Millard, 28, is based in north- west London.

What are your pre-show rituals like?

  • BOOKIT / KIDSFEST SINGAPORE 2016: THE GRUFFALO

  • WHERE: School of the Arts, DramaTheatre

    WHEN: Jan 21 to 24, various times

    ADMISSION: $42 to$62 from Sistic (excludes booking fee, go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

The cast will try to play games together if there is time to loosen up and get a bit jovial. If not, I just warm up and work on my vocal techniques. I do this by limbering up my body to come off as more playful in the performance. I also make it a point to practise each song at least once to make sure that I'm in the right key.

What do you do right after the show ends?

I take off the costume and down a bottle of water before heading to the showers. It gets very hot in the suit. After I've freshened up, I'll go catch up and hang out with the rest of the cast and friends for dinner or supper.

What is one of the main challenges of performing for children?

Children know what they like and don't like. This means you constantly have to keep them entertained or they will switch off and fidget in their seats.

Unlike adults, kids are also very straightforward and will tell you if they don't enjoy what they're seeing.

Have you ever flubbed a line when performing as the Gruffalo?

So far, no. But we are always prepared to deal with that situation if it crops up. We just have to make sure that the next person speaking can remember his lines and save the mistake from being too obvious. It's scary, but it's exciting.

What is the most memorable experience that you have had while playing the Gruffalo?

It was Christmas time and we were midway through performing The Gruffalo, where the mouse begins singing a Christmas song to distract the Gruffalo.

By right, after about two lines into the song, the Gruffalo would interrupt the mouse and continue on with the script, but this time, this tiny little kid (in the audience) carried on singing the song and we let him finish his entire rendition of Jingle Bells.

It was really the cutest thing ever.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Bringing the Gruffalo to life'. Print Edition | Subscribe