After extensive touring and two brief stints in London previously, Tall Stories’ popular children’s show, The Gruffalo, will receive its West End premiere this month at the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly Circus, where it will have a limited five-week season from 19 July 2005.

The Gruffalo follows Mouse into the deep dark wood on a hunt for hazelnuts. Armed with just a nut map and a vivid imagination, Mouse runs into wheeler-dealer Fox, retired Woodland Air Force officer Owl, and party animal Snake. Rather than becoming the main course of their next meal, Mouse scares them away with stories of an imaginary monster friend. But what happens when he comes face-to-face with the very creature he imagined?

Tall Stories’ stage show is adapted from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s multiple award-winning book of the same name. Published in 1999, it has become the biggest selling picture book ever in Britain, having sold more than two million copies worldwide and been translated into over 20 languages. Its recently published sequel The Gruffalo’s Child was named Children’s Book of the Year at this year’s British Book of the Year Awards.

The show started at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre as part of the Scottish International Children’s Festival 2001 and has since toured the UK, as well as America (including three weeks at Broadway’s New Victory Theatre), Canada, Ireland and Poland. In London, it had a 2002 Christmas season at Soho Theatre and was seen this past May at the Pleasance as part of its current extensive UK tour, which continues separate to the newly announced West End season.

Tall Stories was founded in 1996 by directors Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell. The Gruffalo is presented in the West End by Kenneth H Wax Ltd and Nick Brooke Ltd.

Currently at the Criterion, Gregory Murphy’s The Countess, starring Nick Moran and Alison Pargeter, posted early closing notices this week (See News, 27 Jun 2005). Opened on 7 June 2005 (previews from 2 June), it had been booking to 17 September but will now close on 9 July. Further ahead, in October Richard E Grant is tipped to star in a revival of Simon Gray’s 1975 play Otherwise Engaged at the theatre (See The Goss, 24 Jun 2005).

- by Terri Paddock