Preview: The Ballad of Rudy

Goblin Theatre present their Christmas musical The Ballad of Rudy for two performances only at The Crazy Coqs, Piccadilly, on 27 December (1pm and 3pm). As well as welcoming a small live audience, the show will be livestreamed and available to watch for 48 hours after the performance.

I asked Goblin’s artistic director (and writer of The Ballad of Rudy) Matt Borgatti, to tell us a bit more about this upcoming feast of festive fun.

The Ballad of Rudy cast

How has theatre lockdown been for you and Goblin Theatre this year?

It’s been a tough year for us (as with everyone!) we had all our planned productions and tours cancelled, but thanks to Arts Council & Culture Recovery Fund Grants we’ve been able to survive.

Looking back to this time last year when we had five different productions running it seems like a world away, we can’t wait to get back to reaching audiences with live performances.

What should audiences expect from The Ballad of Rudy?

The Ballad of Rudy is a festive musical treat for families so expect fun and laughter and a lot of heart. The story starts at Reindeer school, where Rudy (a Reindeer) causes a lot of mischief. He then goes on an adventure meeting different arctic animals who teach him life isn’t about following the herd.

Live music is one of the stars of the show, we have got some brilliant songs played on a variety of instruments and sung by Polar Bears, Penguins, Arctic Foxes and a Walrus.

The Crazy Coqs is such a special venue, and you’ve stripped down the show to suit the space. How easy was it to make the changes?

We’ve turned the story into more of a cabaret-style, with the songs framed by storytelling and fun characters interactions.

The jazzy art-deco style of the venue is so perfect for the show- before when we’ve been performing the shows in theatres or black box venues we’ve had to spend a long time creating the same atmosphere Brassiere Zedel just has.

We performed there last year with the first show they’ve ever done for families- it’s such a unique experience that both adults and children can enjoy (grown-ups can even get cocktails!). We think this will also translate into the live-stream.

Your Rudolf the reindeer is Rudy the jazz musician. Did you have a real-life musician as inspiration when you created the character?

As his main instrument is guitar, I think Rudy’s most similar jazz musician is Django Reinhardt. In making this show we have worked with some real life jazz-legends- we originally created Rudy with flugelhorn and trumpeter Claude Deppa, who is amazing.

The Ballad of Rudy cast

You have a smashing cast lined up from!  shows like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Dreamboats and Petticoats. How easy has it been to plan and rehearse together?

The cast are brilliant – Mia Jerome has just come from The Third Day with Punchdrunk – so has gone from hanging out with Jude Law to hanging out with a Polar Bear.

The pandemic has created an extra dimension of organisation – this has been a challenge. We’ve created a lot of the show separately, and then come together for distanced rehearsals.

It’s strange coming back to in-person rehearsals after such a long break, but it’s been great and a really positive experience that’s been needed at the end of this year!

The show also includes puppets. How did that aspect of the show evolve?

We love working with puppets in our shows, we’ve worked with Little Angel Theatre in Islington (who have supported us with rehearsals) and a variety of talented puppet makers and designers. There’s an indescribable magic with good puppetry.

It seems difficult to summon up the Christmas spirit this year! With Rudy appearing live and through streaming, what do you hope it will bring to get people’s spirits up?

The show is a big celebration and a lot of fun, it’s a really positive show made with love. It’s really exciting that we’ll be able to reach audiences at home as well through live streaming. So as well as being in central London we are pleased that anyone in the UK….in the world, can watch us.

What is coming up for Goblin in 2021?

We’re hoping to get back to touring as soon as we can do, we’re also going to be releasing more episodes of our musical stories podcast (starting with A Christmas Carol on 19 December)

We have a lot to be thankful for because of funding so we aim to continue to be creative and reach as many children and adults as possible.

My thanks to Matt for this interview. You can book to see The Ballad of Rudy at

Image credits: Annika Morley