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Thumbelina: A Swallow’s Tale
Monday 10 August to Saturday 15 August at 11.30am. Duration: 1hr.
Venue 40, Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh. Tickets: £8/£6


By night, he was tickling the ivories for the London West End production of The Sound Of Music. By day, international concert pianist Chris Seed was composing his own piece of musical magic. And he did so, on his remarkable left-handed piano.
The result is Thumbelina: A Swallow’s Tale, a new musical version of the Hans Christian Anderson story, which receives its world premiere with just six performances only at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Grown from a seed, Thumbelina – a tiny girl who believes she is simply too different ever to be accepted by others – gives children a touching coming-of-age story with the message that anyone can find their place in this big wide world, though sometimes that might take a lot of courage and perseverance.
Staged through dance and song by a combination of actors and puppets, the show is a fun, dreamlike adventure sure to enchant children (6+) and parents alike. As they follow her sometimes hair-raising adventures, audiences encounter her friend the Swallow, Mrs Toad, Monsieur Maybug, Flutter Butterfly, Mr Mole and the Prince of the Flowers.
A pre-show workshop will help children get the most from the production with an opportunity to meet the characters at the end.
Left-handed Chris spent his career conforming to conventional pianos until 1997 when he commissioned a Dutch firm to build the world’s first left-handed grand piano. While he easily switches between left and right-handed keyboards, Chris reveals that several ‘well-known’ pianists have been a little embarrassed after looking like novices as they attempt to play his unique piano. While Chris performs at all six performances of Thumbelina: A Swallow’s Tale, logistics sadly mean the leftie piano has to be left at home.
The collaboration between Chris and lyricist Maxine Gallagher is all down to a chance meeting in November 2007 on the 23.05 train from Waterloo. As conversation between the strangers progressed, Chris confided that he’d composed music for a new stage show that still needed a lyricist. As it happens, his travelling companion had been a finalist in several songwriting competitions and had long harboured an ambition to pen the words for a musical. (You can’t make this sort of thing up – and honest, we didn’t. Just as that really is the surname.

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