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Julia Donaldson previews exciting new stage show at Warwick Castle

Award-winning author Julia Donaldson visited Warwick Castle this weekend to preview the brand new Zog Live Show, which is set to launch on 28th May, as well as discover all that Warwick Castle’s ‘Realm of Zog’ has to offer.

Donaldson previewed elements of the upcoming show, which includes a script developed by her for Warwick Castle and is based on her first Zog book, which was illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The best-selling author also explored the recently launched Zog Playland for the very first time, discovering first-hand how the Merlin Entertainments attraction, in partnership with brand owners Magic Light Pictures, has brought her characters to life in a range of immersive, accessible experiences.

“It’s just amazing seeing my characters brought to life like this. Of course, I have seen plays and films based on my book but this playground has so much attention to detail, down to Princess Pearl’s box of soothing peppermints. Sometimes children get really into stories and obsessed with the characters and I think they love to be part of the story. They like to go to Madame Dragon’s School or meet Sir Gadabout the Great and it just fires their imaginations. You get children who really love a book and then they love to see it brought to life as a film, a play, a trail or a playground but then you get other children who aren’t so well read particularly but they might have that interactive experience first and that can introduce them to reading so it can work both ways. I am obviously a theatre enthusiast so I’m looking forward to the show. I think I am most excited about the trail because it is really interactive. I’ve seen trails where people just walk their way and see a statue of this or carving of that, but here children actually get to go to Madame Dragon’s School and do all the different activities, I think is really exciting.”

Julia Donaldson on the Real of Zog area at Warwick Castle

The staging for the Zog Live Show will also feature the original artwork by Axel Scheffler, illustrator of Zog and Zog & the Flying Doctors, creating a 30-minute immersive open air performance. The show is a faithful retelling of the Zog story featuring much-loved characters from the book, with live actors, puppets, special effects and music from the Zog film. The purpose-built stage will be set against the woodland backdrop of the pageant field, adding to the authenticity of the adventurous story.

Ensuring the performance is open to all, wheelchair accessible seating will be available and screens featuring Makaton sign language will accompany each show.

"I have seen quite a few plays based on my books but I am very excited that this one is set with the wonderful background of the castle because, of course, the Zog story features a castle, a knight and a princess. As someone who has a hearing problem myself, I am really pleased that it will have a Makaton screen so that children who have language difficulties or are deaf or hard of hearing can enjoy the stories. I’ve still got really vivid memories of my own first trip to the theatre, a more conventional theatre in London, and those memories of going to see a play stay with a child for life because they really believe it is real, for a child it just captures their imagination.”

Julia Donaldson on the new Zog Live Show at Warwick Castle

The brand new show is yet another reason why Warwick Castle is the ultimate destination for Zog fans of all ages. The show joins the new Zog Playland, which launched in April and is based on the second book Zog & the Flying Doctors, and the returning Zog and the Quest for the Golden Star interactive trail, as well as the popular Zog Play & Stay overnight package.

Julia’s visit comes following the recent launch of her brand new book Welcome to the World, a tender and lyrical picture book created in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury. Revisiting the very special picture book pairing first seen in The Giant Jumperee, comes a magical, lyrical celebration of babies’ first experiences. From the comfort of home to the adventure of the great outdoors, from family to first encounters with nature, Welcome to the World revels in the joy that comes with sharing this new world with children, and seeing it through their eyes. The book was published on 28th April 2022.

For more information and to book, head to www.warwick-castle.com/Zog