Wed 24 Nov 2021

Behind the scenes of Tom’s Midnight Garden

We caught up with Tyler Dobbs, who's playing Tom in Tom’s Midnight Garden, to find out more about the show and see what he loves about this festive season.

Can you tell us a bit more about the show and what’s exciting about it?

Tom’s Midnight Garden is a coming of age story; Tom is at the age of big change in his young life, he’s transitioning from primary school into secondary school and discovering all the responsibility and independence that comes with that, but still of an age where summer holidays stretch out forever and days are filled with fun and playing outdoors with friends. That’s why he’s frustrated and bored being stuck indoors in a stuffy flat in the city with only grown-ups for company, rather than at home having adventures with his brother. But through the help of a mysterious old grandfather clock he is transported through time to a special garden, where he meets a new playmate, Hatty.

I love that it’s not a traditional fairy tale, it’s one of love and empathy that doesn’t end in romance, but explores friendship instead. There’s tons of cheeky humour in it too, with Tom and Hatty exploring together in a huge garden where their imaginations can run free. Tom is a child growing up in the 1950s, and the make-believe worlds that he and Hatty go to in their heads are the same worlds that children dream up today, it’s just that kids can build those exciting worlds through games like Minecraft and Fortnite nowadays!

And for animal lovers in the audience, the animal characters in the story are brought to life through puppetry, which really adds to the fun and magic of the play.

I think that any children with big imaginations will be sure to love this show.


Are there any scary bits in the show?

There’s some ghostly goings-on and a bit of spookiness, but nothing too scary!


In the play, Tom loves exploring and discovering new things, and he’s a bit of a detective when it comes to trying to make sense of all the strange things happening around him. Have you discovered anything strange or interesting while you’ve been here in Keswick?

Well, just like Tom, the house I am staying in in Keswick has a big old grandfather clock right outside my bedroom door! The other night I even went exploring in the middle of the night to see what I might discover inside it… So I suppose I’m just as curious as Tom. And I’m certainly keeping an ear out for the clock striking thirteen…


Are there any parts of the show that the audience can join in with?

There are no boundaries within the world of the Midnight Garden… We’ll bring you into our world and you’ll feel like you’re right there in the garden with us.


Do you believe in magic?

Yes! There is magic running through us all, even when you grow up you mustn’t lose it. The story of the Midnight Garden is all about finding magic in the every-day; through play and through nature, you just have to know where to look for it. Magic is what keeps our imaginations alive!


What makes you start to feel Christmassy?

Hearing George Michael’s Last Christmas in the Scotmid Co-op yesterday.
And the chaos of having a big family and trying to find the right present for each of them. Christmas markets. The crunch of snow underfoot. The NOW Christmas album. And I like a good Christmas film, me and my brother always used to sit and watch The Santa Clause movies together. And I have to admit, I’m a sucker for Love Actually.


Which Christmas song do you love singing along to?

Well, obviously Last Christmas by George Michael. And I’ll definitely be playing Driving Home for Christmas on the drive home from here when we break for Christmas.


What’s your favourite thing to eat on the Christmas dinner table?

My nan’s roasties. They’re the best in the world, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Give me a whole bowl of them swimming in gravy and I’m happy!


And finally, which bit of Christmas do you look forward to the most?

Going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a personal tradition for me. I’ve always loved Christmas Eve the best, it’s all about the build-up of expectation. I’ve got younger siblings so I get caught up in their excitement of going to bed, listening out for Father Christmas and not being allowed to go downstairs until the morning. The magic of Christmas is very much alive in my mum’s house!


Tom’s Midnight Garden runs at Theatre by the Lake from Fri 26 November to Sat 15 January, with the digital show available from Thu 23 – Thu 30 December. For more information visit our What’s On page here.