THU 18 – MON 22 APRIL | 10AM, 1PM, 4PM
Tahra Zafar is the animatronics, puppet and costume maestro whose career spans blockbusters Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Star Wars VII, theatre including Phantom of the Opera, Lady Gaga’s Monster Tour – and even a spell working with the Queen on her first and only acting role. Tahra was head of costume for the Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies at London 2012 – where Elizabeth II was one of 23,000 people that she had to dress.
But ask the creative whiz what character she’s most proud of working on in her three decade-plus career, and the answer isn’t Hermione, Gaga or R2D2 – it’s Upsy Daisy, the ever-happy doll with rainbow-coloured hair, who Tahra designed for the original TV show of In the Night Garden.
“She’s just smashing,” Tahra beams. “Upsy Daisy is a girl character who avoids the usual stereotypes – she isn’t overly bossy, or stuffed with props. And she’s a star of one of the most popular pre-school shows ever; I’m very passionate about young kids’ entertainment – it’s such an exciting thing to be the first one to show something creative to children.”
BAFTA award-winning In the Night Garden remains one of the most popular children’s television series ever made: one of its 100 episodes are still screened nightly and are regularly on iPlayer most-watched lists – despite no new episodes having been made on the 12-year-old show since 2010.
The show tells the tale of Igglepiggle’s Busy Day, as he hunts for his friends by following their funny sounds until he finds them all – and fans will recognise all of their favourites. Tahra has spent months working on the design and costumes of the puppet characters for the new live show: “because, to the children in our audience, In the Night Garden’s characters are like friends that they know really well: they have to look exactly as they do on their home screens. The puppets have to be perfect.”
Children’s theatre, Tahra adds, “is all about being together, taking in a shared experience, escaping everyday worries, being taken somewhere different. The previous tour of In the Night Garden Live was in a huge showdome, so there were restrictions about where it could pitch up. This time, touring more than 40 regional theatres, we can go to new areas; Igglepiggle and Makka Pakka can meet more of the next generation.
“I love sitting in the audience and seeing all these very active toddlers watching the show, entranced – they’re completely still, blown away by it. It’s magical to see.”
To book tickets or for more information visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call the Ticket Office on 01322 220000.