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Winnie, Eeyore and an eyeful of colour

Date

Ron Cerabona

CAST CAPERS: Winnie (Miles Harrison) , Tigger (Lachlan Whan) and Piglet (Rachel Thornton).

CAST CAPERS: Winnie (Miles Harrison) , Tigger (Lachlan Whan) and Piglet (Rachel Thornton). Photo: Karleen Minney

The cast of Free-Rain's production of Winnie the Pooh face what is, for them, a new challenge. While they have been on stage before, in this adaptation of the classic stories by A.A. Milne, directed by Amy Dunham, they will have to interact with the - mostly young - audience. And children can be unpredictable.

Lachlan Whan, who will play the exceedingly energetic Tigger, teaches hip hop and runs children's parties. But this will be different, with the actors relying on their talents to draw children into the fantasy world of the Hundred Acre Wood.

''It's very new, but it's fun,'' Whan said.

Lachlan Whan as Tigger and Rachel Thornton as Piglet.

Lachlan Whan as Tigger and Rachel Thornton as Piglet. Photo: Karleen Minney

Of more concern to him than the audience reaction is the constant motion of his extroverted, troublemaking character during the 45-minute production. ''It's very much an aerobic workout,'' he said.

At the other end of the personality spectrum is Eeyore the donkey, played by Zack Drury.

''He's the only depressed character in the woods … that's what makes him special,'' Drury said.

And his friends constantly try to cheer him up, by helping to find his missing tail, for example, with help from the audience.

Miles Thompson, who plays Winnie the Pooh, said his character was ''intrigued by everything'', in some respects representing the young child who is discovering the world.

Sam Needham plays Christopher Robin, out of whose imagination these characters have sprung.

''He's a young boy and, like all young boys, he's got an imaginary world he likes to play in,'' Needham said. ''In his nursery are stuffed animals and he likes to imagine them coming to life.''

Needham said he saw Christopher Robin as an introverted child more at home in his own world than in playing with other children.

''He doesn't even want to go to his own birthday party; he'd rather play in the Hundred Acre Wood.''

Rachel Thornton, who is playing the shy and frequently frightened Piglet, said it was welcome casting.

''I was a big fan of Piglet especially: I was a 'pink' child … loved pink,'' she said.

She said she had been a dancer for 13 years and the training helped her to move her body to express the character's emotions.

And emotions are what the actors hope to evoke from their young audiences - joy, wonder and curiosity - as they bring the well-loved characters to life.

Winnie the Pooh is on at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, from January 10-13 and 16-20 at 10.30am and 12.30pm. Tickets $23. Bookings: 6275 2700.

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