Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wilde Times Ahead

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wilde Times Ahead

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

Oscar Wilde is remembered for his rapier wit, but he also wrote gentle and moving children's stories.

Their simple messages are as appealing today as when The Happy Prince and Other Tales was published in 1888 - which is one reason Northern Stage has chosen The Happy Prince for its Gulbenkian Studio children's show this year.

For Northern Stage - in this instance - read Adel Al-Salloum, hired by artistic director Alan Lyddiard to take care of the show.

He was very generous, Adel recalls. "We sat down and discussed things, but I was given a blank canvas. I think it helped that I knew the company."

Adel, who is originally from Nuneaton, spent three years with Northern Stage before moving to the Leicester Haymarket Theatre as associate director a year ago, joining chief executive Mandy Stewart who previously had a similar role at Northern Stage.

Adel's Newcastle swansong was directing last year's show for youngsters, The Elves And The Shoemaker, in the Gulbenkian.

The fact that Adel is back in the North-East owes much to the current shenanigans at Leicester where the Haymarket - a 70s concrete monster - is closed and money is tight.

Funds are being raised for a new pounds 31m arts centre, but theatre production has ceased and Adel is free to work on her old patch.

Talking on Imogen Cloet's beautiful set, which incorporates the seating area as well as the stage, Adel says one reason she chose The Happy Prince was because there's to be no Christmas show at Newcastle Playhouse this year, partly due to the lateness of the RSC season.

While the Gulbenkian Show is traditionally aimed at children aged six and under, she felt Wilde's tale would have relatively broad appeal.

But this wasn't the only reason.

"Christmas is a time when a lot of people see going to the theatre as a good thing to do and their expectations are quite high," she says. …

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