Hannah Groombridge, producer of Alby The Penguin, talks about Christmas for tots at BT

Alby, the star of our show, is a white penguin, or - to give him his scientific term - he is a leucistic penguin,” Hannah Groombridge, tells me, with all the enthusiasm required by someone producing the legendary children’s Christmas show at the Burton Taylor Theatre.

The result is Alby The Penguin Saves Christmas, aimed at 3-6 year-olds, and full of music, puppetry and the very special snow-white penguin Alby who, after being cast out of his group finds himself wandering the South Pole all alone.

Alone and frightened, Alby comes across a list of gifts that Father Christmas seems to have left behind in the snow, and determined to make sure Christmas goes off without a hitch Alby must get the list back to its owner.

Written and directed by Helen Eastman, this charming production looks to be the sell-out success of its predecessors.

So what inspired Hannah to produce a show about penguins? “I came across the phenomenon of snow-like penguins and immediately knew that more people needed to see them!,” she tells me.

“I also love Christmas, and the opportunity to combine the two was too much to resist.

“But the BT show also needed a message, so Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas is all about how being different is not bad thing, and that its what inside that counts. These are old adages, but are always worth repeating – especially to a new generation!

“I came up with the story, dreaming up a fair few epic adventures that Alby could go on to save the day, before landing on a tale that would require bravery and perseverance – all whilst being able to fit into our studio theatre.

“I then handed the reins of turning this story over to Helen Eastman, a brilliant writer and director who, amongst many other things, is amazing at creating theatrical experiences for the very youngest audience members. She took Alby’s tale and turned it into a beautiful play, filled with music and games.”

“I am really excited that Alby is coming back to Oxford, after his trip down the A4074 to Reading.

By teaming up with Penguin Watch, audiences can also watch live footage of penguins as they wait to go and see Alby in action (as Alby will nip down to say hello to his friends).

Penguin Watch is an initiative from Zooniverse, who have a team based at the University of Oxford.

“Fiona Jones from the team will be giving coming to the BT on December 18 to talk about her expedition to Antarctica to see the penguins – which she is on right now!” Hannah adds.

“I think its so exciting that Alby will be able to teach Oxford theatre-goers about the real penguins that inspired him.”