Cast and Crew

Felicia Akin-Tayo

Janet

Meet Felicia

Felicia was born in Nigeria and raised in Newham, east London. She graduated from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with a BA Acting CDT (Collaborative Devised Theatre) degree. 

Felicia enjoys physical theatre, movement and dance and appreciates storytelling – especially when told not just by voice but by the body too! 

Previous credits with Tall Stories include: 

‘The Smeds and The Smoos’ (Edinburgh Festival & artsdepot)  

Other theatre credits include:  

‘Here, There, Now’ (Lyric Hammersmith Theatre) Digital recording  

What have been your favourite projects to work on? 

R&D workshop with We Are Collective as I enjoyed being challenged through the themes discussed and working very closely with the creative team. It was so refreshing being able to share, explore and experiment with ideas using different forms of exercises.  

What was your favourite story as a child? 

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ – I really enjoyed the colours, the growth, and the journey of the caterpillar.  

What is your favourite space joke?  

What type of book do aliens like to read? Comet Books.  

Tell us an interesting space fact. 

If you could fly a plane to Pluto the trip would take more than 800 years.  

If you could be an alien, what would you look like?

I would call my alien Sabrina. Sabrina is shaped like a lightbulb/pear. Sabrina has wheels and rolls when she’s laughing. Sabrina is known for her skills in skating on ice and land and slime. She loves to eat snow and ice.  

 

Tom Capper

Grandfather Smed

Meet Tom

Tom grew up in Oxfordshire, he went on to train at GSA Conservatoire and has stayed in Surrey ever since. Tom is delighted to be working with Tall Stories for the first time! 

Theatre credits include: 

‘The Purple Princess’ (Guildford Shakespeare Company), ‘Round The Horne’ (UK Tour), ‘Monstersaurus’ (UK Tour), ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ (UK Tour), ‘The Goon Show’ (UK Tour), ‘Perfectly Ordinary’ (G Live), ‘Don’t Dribble On The Dragon’ (UK Tour), ‘Out of Nowhere It Came’ (Rachel Betts Theatre Company), ‘Around The World In 80 Days’ (UK Tour), ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ (UK Tour), ‘The Three Musketeers’ (UK Tour), ‘Macbeth’ (London Theatre), ‘The Duchess of Padua’ (Pentameters Theatre) and ‘Pinocchio’ (Farnham Maltings); ‘Cinderella’, ‘Dick Whittington, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (Princes Hall, Aldershot) and ‘Cinderella’ (Towngate Theatre) 

What have been your favourite projects to work on? 

I loved working on ‘The Purple Princess’, teaching children what to do if someone has had an epileptic seizure and playing, one of my heroes, Peter Sellers in ‘The Goon Show’. 

What was your favourite story as a child? 

I adore ‘The Minpins’ by Roald Dahl. I have vivid memories of the beautiful artwork – I also loved listening to the audiobook of it on my Fisher Price tape recorder. 

What is your favourite space joke?

How does the man in the moon cut his hair? Eclipse it.  

Tell us an interesting space fact.

There is a planet in our galaxy called HB189733B, where the temperature during the day reaches 1,000 degrees and it could possibly rain molten glass horizontally at around 4,500 mph!  

If you could be an alien, what would you look like?

I would be a large indigo space whale, using my huge fins as solar sails to propel me through space to explore the universe! 

Andrea Sadler

Grandmother Smoo

Meet Andrea

Originally from Wolverhampton, Andrea relocated to Exeter aged 5.  She trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating with a First in Drama and English Literature. 

Theatre credits include:
‘Dogs Don’t Do Ballet’, ‘Little Angel by the Sea’, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’, ‘The Fabulous Flutterbys’, ‘Cindermouse’, ‘Goldilocks’, ‘The Wild Night of the Witches’, (Little Angel Theatre); ‘The Dong With a Luminous Nose’ (Little Angel Theatre, Cubic Feet); ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’ (Kneehigh); ‘The Paper Dolls’ (Polka Theatre); ‘Jina and the STEM Sisters’ (HMDT Music/ National Tour); ‘Five Little Monkeys ‘(Baby Panda); ‘Book Story’ (Monstro Theatre);  ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Antic Disposition); ‘At the World’s Edge’ (London Sinfonietta); ‘Round the Horne Revisited’ (Blue Box Ltd.); ‘Aladdin’ (Winchester Theatre Royal); ‘The Canterbury Tales’ (Nottingham Theatre Royal) 

Television credits include:  

‘The Basil Brush Show‘ (CBBC) 

Film credits include:  

‘The Man Who Married Himself ‘(Therapy Films) and ‘Chemical Wedding’ (Focus Films) 

What have been your favourite projects to work on?  

I loved playing the very funny Nosey Neighbour in Kneehigh’s ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’. I am really proud of the show I made for Little Angel, ‘Dogs Don’t Do Ballet’, adapted from the book by Anna Kemp. Anna gave us free reign, so we created a show that honoured the fantastic book but really came to life off the page. It featured all my favourite things-comedy, slapstick, clowning, music and puppetry. 

What was your favourite story as a child? 

 I loved ‘The Magic Porridge Pot’. There was something about all the gloopy porridge oozing endlessly out of the pot I found strangely satisfying. I was a bit obsessed with Rumpelstiltskin’s tights. I also loved ‘Mrs Pepperpot’, the story of a woman who could shrink to the size of a pepper pot. The idea of getting small and seeing life as a tiny person was very exciting to me. 

What is your favourite space joke?

What do you call a spaceship with water dripping from it? A crying saucer. 

Tell us a interesting space fact,

One day on Venus is longer than one year on Earth.  

If you could be an alien, what would you look like?  

One yellow eye that can swivel 360 degrees to see out of the back of its head. Large purple ears for supersonic hearing. Green and purple antennae to communicate with other aliens. Orange flipper feet that can hover above ground for case of travel.   

 

Dan Armstrong

Bill

Meet Dan

Originally from Ringwood in the New Forest, Dan graduated from East 15 Acting School’s Acting and Contemporary Theatre course and has trained with The Brighton School of Puppetry and The Curious School of Puppetry. Dan has been involved with ‘The Smeds and The Smoos’ from the very start when he was part of the devising process back in 2021.

Theatre Credits include: Dragons and Mythical Beasts (Nicoll Entertainment); Gnomus at Stonehenge (Puppets with Guts); Arbor (Smoking Apples); When Seagulls Saved the World (Nosy Hedgehog); Midsummer Night’s Dream (Scottish Opera)

Television Credits include: Minim & Me (Glasswell Productions); Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (Channel 4/Blink Industries ); The Third Day (Sky Studios/Punchdrunk International)

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
Getting to prance around and play the fool as Puck In Scottish Opera’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was a lot of fun, as was playing a teenager in a sci-fi adventure show called ‘Journey to the Impossible’.

What is your favourite space joke?
Q. What did the astronaut say to the rocket?
A. You’re a blast

What sort of planet would you like to visit?
An underwater planet that you could breathe in with volcanoes that could blast you off to different parts like a sort of London Underground. There’d also be alien Coral of every colour and shape that tasted of the most delicious raspberries.

Grace Liston

Understudy/Assistant Stage Manager

Meet Grace

Grace was born in Croydon and grew up in Bromley. She graduated from Rose Bruford College with a BA Hons degree in Actor Musicianship. 

Grace is proud and honoured to be a Trustee of Industry Minds, a charity advocating for mental health awareness in the arts industry.  

Theatre credits include: 

‘The Rascally Diner’ UK Tour, ‘Pataflafla’ The Bridge Theatre, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Theatre Royal Wakefield), ‘A Christmas Carol’ (The Barn Theatre), ‘A Lightweight Disposable Product’ (The Vaults Theatre, in association with Wildcard Theatre) and ‘Twelfth Night’ (Half Cut Theatre).  

What have been your favourite projects to work on? 

Any project involving music. I love song writing and making music with others! 

What was your favourite story as a child?  

‘Amazing Grace’ by Mary Hoffman – because she discovers she can do anything she sets her mind to!  

What is your favourite space joke?  

What kind of music do planets sing? Neptunes!  

Tell us an interesting space fact.

Venus rotates in the opposite direction to the earth and all other planets! 

If you could be an alien, what would you look like? 

I think something like Mr. Tickle from the Mr. Men books. I like making people laugh. She would have crazy, multi-coloured hair – which I have never been brave enough to have! She would also have lots of different sounds and be able to sing any tune and sound like any instrument! And wear a Tutu and ballet shoes for some space dancing! 

Gareth Moss

Company Stage Manager

Meet Gareth

Originally from Norwich, Gareth has been touring with theatre companies for 15 years. 

Previous credits with Tall Stories include: 

‘The Smeds and The Smoos ‘(Edinburgh Fringe and artsdepot), ‘Room on the Broom’ (UK tour) 

Other theatre credits include: 

‘The Ministry of Science Live’ (tour), ‘Les Dawson Flying High’ (tour), ‘Zog’ (tour), ‘Zog and the Flying Doctors’ (tour), ‘Stick Man’ (tour), ‘Harpy’ (tour), ‘The Falcons Malteser ‘(Vaults), ‘Turn of the Screw’ (tour). ‘Still Alice’ (tour), ‘Eve’s Story’ (tour), ‘Viennese Strauss Gala’ (tour), ‘Grandad’s Island’ (tour), ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ (West End/tour), ‘The Shakespeare Revue’ (tour), ‘Hetty Feather’ (tour), ‘It’s a Wonderful Life ‘(tour), ‘Three Men in a Boat’ (tour), ‘Melody Loses Her Mojo’ (tour), ‘Birdsong ‘(tour), ‘The Parson Pirates ‘(tour), ‘Our Country’s Good’ (tour), ‘See How They Run’ (tour), ‘Twelfth Night’ (tour), ‘The Naked Truth’ (tour), ‘Denial’ (tour), and many pantos. 

What have been your favourite projects to work on?  

Those with a small cast and some devising along the way. 

What was your favourite story as a child? 

I didn’t have a specific one, but I did like the tales with a dark side. I still do. 

What is your favourite space joke? 

I love the way the earth rotates. It makes my day. 

Tell us an interesting space fact. 

You just won’t believe how vastly hugely, mind bogglingly big it is.  

If you could be an alien, what would you look like?  

You’d never see me… 

 

Creatives

Toby Mitchell

Director

Meet Toby

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
As a director, ‘The Smeds and The Smoos’, ‘The Snow Dragon’ and ‘The Snail and the Whale’; as a writer/performer, ‘Future Perfect’ (a show I performed with my then 10-year-old son).

What sort of planet would you like to visit?
I’d like to visit a planet which has polar ice caps made of salted caramel ice cream

Barney George

Set and Costume Designer

Meet Barney

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
Every project has exciting new challenges. Each new collaboration is always my favourite.

What would you take with you on a space adventure?
My children would make amazing travelling companions – if they want to come along of course!

Jon Fiber & Andy Shaw

Music and Lyrics

Meet Jon Fiber & Andy Shaw
What have been your favourite projects to work on?

We’ve enjoyed all of the shows we’ve worked on with Tall Stories but I think our favourite experience was working with actor-musicians, devising songs and music for ‘Wilde Creatures’ and ’The Canterville Ghost’.

What is your favourite space joke?

Q. How do you organise a party in outer space?
A. You planet!

Yvonne Stone

Puppet Designer

Meet Yvonne

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
‘Room on the Broom’ has been a big favourite of mine, ‘Oi Frog’ was huge fun, ‘Frankenstein’ was a brilliant challenge and I can’t forget ‘War Horse’ and ‘The Lion King’.

What would you take with you on a space adventure?
I think I would have to take a picture of all my family to remind me of home whilst journeying through space.

Peter Harrison

Lighting Designer

Meet Peter

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
‘Wilde Creatures’ and ‘The Canterville Ghost’ with Tall Stories, but more recently, growing potatoes on my new allotment has been great too.

If you were an alien, what would you look like?
I would have six very long arms so I could work while also watering the garden, making the dinner, scratching my back, and still have a spare to answer the door for the postman.

Julia Cave

Choreographer

Meet Julia

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
My favourite projects to work on are those with brilliant stories told through music, dance, puppets and everything in between!

What is your favourite space joke?
Q. Why do aliens spill their tea?
A. They have flying saucers.

Martin Rodges

Costume Supervisor

Meet Martin

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
One of my favourites was ‘Anything Goes’ at the Barbican, because it was the first proper theatre job I did after lockdown and so it felt like I was finally getting back to normal.

If you were an alien, what would you look like?
I’d be big, soft and fluffy, then all the other aliens would want to cuddle me.

Author & Illustrator

Julia Donaldson

Author

Meet Julia

Julia is the author of some of the world’s best-loved children’s books, including modern classics ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’, which together have sold over 17 million copies worldwide, and the hugely successful ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ adventures. Julia also writes fiction, including the ‘Princess Mirror-Belle’ books illustrated by Lydia Monks, as well as poems, plays and songs – and her brilliant live shows are always in demand. She was Children’s Laureate 2011-13 and has been honoured with a CBE for Services to Literature. Julia and her husband Malcolm divide their time between West Sussex and Edinburgh.

Axel Scheffler

Illustrator

Meet Axel

Axel is a star illustrator whose instantly recognisable, warm and witty illustrations have achieved worldwide acclaim and numerous awards. Axel is the illustrator of wonderful novelty, gift and poetry books for Macmillan, such as ‘Fish Dream of Trees’ (Two Hoots) and the bestselling ‘The Bedtime Bear’, ‘The Tickle Book’ and ‘Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes’ – and of course, he is the illustrator of some of the world’s best-loved picture books, including the modern classic ‘The Gruffalo’, with over 30 million books sold worldwide across the series. Axel’s artwork is exhibited internationally; he has illustrated for many charities, and designed the Royal Mail Christmas stamps in 2012. Born in Hamburg, Axel now lives with his family in London.

 

Production

Director: Toby Mitchell
Set & Costumes Designer: Barney George
Music & Lyrics: Jon Fiber & Andy Shaw for Jollygoodtunes
Puppet Designer: Yvonne Stone
Lighting Designer: Peter Harrison
Choreographer: Julia Cave
Costume Supervisor: Martin Rodges

Production Manager: Nick May
Collaborator: Zhaolin Zhou
R&D Co-Director: Olivia Jacobs
Set Construction: Barney George
Set Build Contributors: Stanley George, Dick George, Ruth Mulholland, Jake Palmer-Simmons, Ted Harrison
Model Maker: Stanley George
Floor Cloth Painter: Claire Winfield
Assistant Puppet Makers: Lynsey Baker, Teresa Collins, Tori Chilcott, Laura Harvey
Costume Makers: Jane Thomas Colquhoun, Meg Roberts
Tour Bookers: ProTours
Publicity Design: Dewynters

Adapted by the company from the picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

The Smeds and The Smoos © Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler 2019, published by Scholastic 

Previous team members

Janet

Althea Burey (original production)

Bill

Dan Armstrong (original production), Robert Penny

Grandfather Smed

Tim Hibberd (original production)

Grandmother Smoo

Angela Laverick (original production), Louise Mai Newbury

CSM

Osian Griffiths (original production)

Gareth Moss