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5 Minutes with Barb Jungr | The Pixie and the Pudding

We spoke to co-writer and composer Barb Jungr about her inspiration for The Pixie and the Pudding and the challenges of creating a show from scratch.

What was your inspiration for the story of The Pixie and the Pudding?
I read about the Nysse fairy tale from Norway and Samantha Lane (Artistic Director of Little Angel Theatre and co-writer of the show) and I thought it could be a great starting point for thinking about the countryside here, and the way that it seems a very strange place if you suddenly move to it from the city. We thought about the old farmer being at peace with the land, knowing it backwards and understanding all his animals and plants personally like old friends, and then the new young father coming in with his daughter, both used to being in the modern city and suddenly finding another world to which they have to adapt. We wanted the story to be very much set in the present day and Pixie to be vibrant and energetic and lovable, whilst also being magical and quite naughty.

You and Samantha have worked together before to adapt Julia Donaldon’s book The Singing Mermaid for the Little Angel Theatre stage in 2018. How was your process different for creating The Pixie and the Pudding from scratch?

It was a joy to work with Samantha again. We loved The Singing Mermaid and found a good way of writing together early on. We have similar taste and we – I think – are both good at collaborating and listening – I think Samantha’s better at that than I am now I think of it! Working from scratch was about finding the storyline and characters and then going back to the script again and again and asking questions. It is different when you adapt an existing book because the challenge there is to make a book a theatre piece and often a book can be read quite quickly, whereas the piece will need to be 45 minutes long on stage and the drama and character has to be expanded from that source material. Starting from scratch was challenging because the blank page was ours! But the process was a joy and I am very proud of what we have all made together. The cast are such wonderful performers, it is a joy to watch them and the magical way they bring our story to life. I am in love with Pixie!

What’s your favourite song that you composed for the show?
I love them all but I do very much like the Angry Pixie song where Pixie realises that the new people have not made the pudding they were invited to make. Pixie does some wonderful banging on the bowl with her big spoon. I like also the Pudding song when Pixie finally gets Charlie to make the pudding and her dance of joy.

How did you get into composing music for theatre?
I’ve written songs all my life, but I was invited to write for the pantomimes at the Corn Exchange in Newbury some years ago when they were produced there and the director was the now almost legendary Cal McCrystal. He taught me so much and it was a joy to work alongside him. Then I worked with Birmingham Stage Company on a version of The Jungle Book and then I met Little Angel Theatre and we made The Fabulous Flutterbys in 2010. It has been a wonderful journey. I hope it continues forever…

What was lovely about working on the music for Pixie was that once again the musicians who came and played for the recordings were all superb, and Jonathan Lee’s drumming brings the tracks to life, as does Jenny Carr’s wonderful piano playing. Jay Stapley brought such a lot of country and western influence with his guitars and bass playing and even a bit of rock and roll! And Nix Wood and Gilbert Taylor sing so beautifully, live every performance, so there’s a gorgeous energy to the musical score.

The Pixie and the Pudding is on at Little Angel Theatre from 22 November 2019 – 2 February 2020. To find out more and book tickets, click here, and listen to the music from the show here.