St Albans theatre group opens the gates to Tom’s Midnight Garden for Christmas show

Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden - Credit: Archant

Four young actors will roll back the years when they perform in the Company of Ten’s Christmas show which opens at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans tomorrow. (18)

The quartet between the ages of 16 and 20 are taking on the roles of 10-year-old Tom and nine-year-old Hattie, in the production of Tom’s Midnight Garden.

Set in the 1950’s, the story centres on Tom, quarantined in his aunt and uncle’s flat while his brother Peter has measles.

Bored and restless, he is startled one night when the grandfather clock in the downstairs hall strikes 13. Slipping downstairs, he goes out into the concrete yard, only to discover a beautiful garden of the 1880’s. There he meets and befriends Hattie but although he remains 10 years old, she is growing older with each visit.

Eventually he has to go home to his family, but before he does, a special secret is revealed to him by the old lady upstairs.

Director Katherine Barry explained her casting decision. “I chose slightly older actors to portray the characters. The main reason was that Tom is onstage the whole time, which is a huge responsibility for a child. I have also doubled the parts up so that more young actors can have the chance to play these wonderful roles.”

“Inevitably, one of the challenges has been to help the teenagers get in touch with their inner eight year olds. However, they soon got over their inhibitions, and like the current London production of The Railway Children, one soon forgets their age, and gets swept up in the tremendous story telling.”

Most Read

Conor Gray, who is playing Tom, alternating with Duncan Kennedy, aged 17, said: “As a 20 year old playing a ten year old, the main issue has been trying to inhabit the mind and mannerisms of someone half my age. Luckily Katherine has years of experience working with young actors, so her input has been invaluable.

The extra challenge for the actress playing Hattie, is that she ages from nine to 19 during the performance. Katie Walton, 17, who alternates the part with Ellie Fidler, 16, said that she found that aspect very interesting. “Children have fewer inhibitions, so I have to completely let go physically and behaviourally. Then, as Hattie grows up, I need to gradually restrict myself again. Also, Hattie is Victorian, so has a lot more social restrictions on her than a child in the 1950s.”

Performances take place on the Abbey Theatre Main Stage at 7.30pm tomorrow, Monday, December 21, Tuesday, December 22, and Tuesday, December 29. and at 2.30pm and 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20, and Sunday and Monday, December 27 and 28.

To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01727 857861.