Pippi Longstocking at Royal & Derngate

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates

[AD – Press tickets] I was kindly given press tickets to see Cinderella in exchange for an honest review. Read more in my disclaimer here.

A fun, energetic, free-spirited show that will make everyone young, old and in-between feel childlike and leave you with a big smile on your face! Pippi Longstocking at Royal & Derngate is the alternative Christmas show that’s far from ordinary!

Pippi Longstocking is the beloved story written by Astrid Lindgren, which has lived on for generations as the pigtailed poster girl for childhood freedom and fun. I personally remember the story well from childhood, so it was going to be interesting to see it come to life on stage.

Originally written for a younger audience, this stage adaptation has been cleverly remastered by Mike Akers, who has ensured that adults can enjoy it just as much too. 

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates
Matt Churcher as Tommy, Emily-Mae as Pippi Longstocking and Philippa Hogg as Annika. Photo by Manuel Harlan

The story is set in the imaginary town of Little Town, in the middle of nowhere and is just your ordinary town where everyone thrives on being average, everything works like clockwork and that’s just the way they like it.

Until Pippi comes along, who is definitely not boring and moves into the house next door to the Mayor’s house, where she befriends Tommy and Anika and causes mayhem and mischief in the town – Little Town won’t ever be the same again!

I am always amazed over how much the Royal stage can do with so little set and props, but Pippi Longstocking proved you can do a lot with a little! 

The set design is cleverly constructed to a round circle that raises up slightly, consists of different cupboard spaces for “Thing finding” and has an appropriate middle section for the instrumentalists to play amongst the actors.

There was so much to look at and it was all so fascinating, yet simple and no-fuss! 

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates
The company as townspeople. Photo by Manuel Harlan

The music and composition by Stu Barker was a real delight – I loved seeing all the actors pick up and play instruments and the music itself was really catchy. I still have the song in my head where Pippi manages to sing her whole name in one go! 

Emily-Mae, who played ‘the strongest girl in the world’ Pippi, was a born star! She captured my attention from the moment she walked on stage and I couldn’t take my eyes off her throughout.

She was energetic, bubbly, and full of life! She was the true Pippi in my eyes with a sparkling imagination and on top of everything, she had a cracking voice, could dance and was the star of the show! 

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates
Emily-Mae as Pippi Longstocking. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Alongside Emily-Mae, there were 7 other actor-musicians who made up the cast of Pippi Longstocking of whom each had a part to play. The Mayor of Little Town Mr Settegren, played by Alex Perry was HILARIOUS.

Pompous, over-the-top and unapologetically proud of his town  – he knew how to tease and react to the audience (especially a very vocal young audience member at the front!)

Rowena Lennon, played the motherly and sensible, who hits the nail on the head for portraying stereotypical Mayor’s wife, Mrs Settegren.

Her children, Tommy, played by Matt Churcher and Annika, played by Phillipa Hogg were enchanting as children and perfectly captured the innocence and playful nature required for these roles. Their friendship with Pippi was also very endearing and lifelike.

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates
Matt Churcher as Tommy, Emily-Mae as Pippi Longstocking and Philippa Hogg as Annika. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Another stand-out actress for me was Hanora Kamen, who played Ebba, Mr Nilsson the Monkey and PC Nyeberg – a triple threat in performance and parts!

From a stern, “rules are rules”, strict school teacher, part of the comedic police duo and her portrayal of Mr Nilsson; all her roles were beautifully directed and delivered with confidence.

Her portrayal of Mr Nilsson was a highlight for me, especially when she used the mini trumpet to mimic the voice of a monkey – she was a joy to watch! 

Is there anything she can’t do? Apparently not! 

Another multi-part actor was Scott Brooks, who played a typical young boy, Benght, that was really believable and child-like.

He also portrayed a hilarious, Miss Granberg who had the younger members of the audience in an uproar of laughter! He was also the other policeman, which made Brooks and Kamen an iconic duo! 

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates
Hanora Kamen as Mr Nilsson. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Other mentions include the ensemble cast who were great additions to the story, whether it be playing accompanying instruments, playing supporting characters and even replicating sea animals! 

Another element of this already exciting show was the audience participation, especially the passing down of the buckets when the Mayor’s tower caught on fire.

You knew it was all imaginary, but you couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride knowing you helped! 

There’s lots of playing, lots of exploring and plenty for the audience to get involved with. Kids will love it, adults will love it and no matter what age you are, it’s a real family-friendly show full of humour and comedy that will make everyone feel young at heart again!

Pippi Longstocking | Nicole Navigates
Emily-Mae as Pippi Longstocking and company. Photo by Manuel Harlan

If it were up to me, I would give this show a longer run as everyone needs to see it right here in Northampton. It’s perfect if you’re not so into the traditional pantomime. 

There is a relaxed performance happening on Saturday 28th December and the show is running until Tuesday 31st December – so get your tickets quick!

Rating: ★★★★★

Will you be heading to Royal & Derngate to see Pippi Longstocking?

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