All events

Wizard presents in association with Watford Palace Theatre

Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

Adapted for stage by Dani Parr and Danyah Miller.

A magical Christmas treat for families and children aged 7 and above.

  • British Sign Language
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Thurs 22 - Sat 31 December 11am & 2pm (no shows Christmas Day or Boxing Day) BSL interpreted performance on Tues 27 December 2pm. Relaxed performance Fri 30 December 11am.

Venue: Downstairs

Directed by  Dani Parr. Designed by Kate Bunce.

Multi-award-winning performer and storyteller Danyah Miller vividly brings to life another enchanting tale by Michael Morpurgo.

Created by the same team who brought you the acclaimed and much-loved production of I Believe in Unicorns, Why The Whales Came is full of fun, mystery and adventure.

Children Gracie and Daniel have been forbidden to go near the mysterious and seemingly dangerous Birdman. But messages and clues intrigue them and, after being lost at sea in the fog and stranded on his tiny island, they begin to unravel the Birdman’s secrets, the villagers’ fears and superstitions and learn why the whales came to the island.


“Danyah Miller is a storytelling phenomenon. I shan't miss WHY THE WHALES CAME'.  Don't you miss it either.  It will be a theatrical tour de force, that's for sure.” Michael Morpurgo

  • Thu 22 Dec, 11:00am
  • Thu 22 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Fri 23 Dec, 11:00am
  • Fri 23 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Sat 24 Dec, 11:00am
  • Sat 24 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Tue 27 Dec, 11:00am
  • Tue 27 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Wed 28 Dec, 11:00am
  • Wed 28 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Thu 29 Dec, 11:00am
  • Thu 29 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Fri 30 Dec, 11:00am
  • Fri 30 Dec, 2:00pm
  • Sat 31 Dec, 11:00am
  • Sat 31 Dec, 2:00pm

DANYAH MILLER - Storyteller and Adaptor 
Danyah Miller is a storyteller, workshop leader, writer, theatre producer and mum. She shares stories nationally and internationally. She is a Course Leader at The International School of Storytelling in East Sussex. Her Top Ten Tips for Storytelling with Children, was published on-line by Guardian Culture. Danyah starred in I Believe in Unicorns by Michael Morpurgo, which premiered at Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 before touring nationally and internationally for two and a half years including two seasons in London’s West End and at Royal Festival Hall as part of Imagine Children’s Festival. This one-woman show received an Argus Angel Award for Artistic Excellence at Brighton Festival 2014 and an Audience Choice Award for Get Creative Family Arts Festival in 2015. 

Danyah is currently creating a biographical wonder tale for adults entitled Perfectly Imperfect Women which will premier in March 2017. 


DANI PARR - Director and Adaptor 
Dani Parr is Director of Participation at Almeida Theatre. She was previously Associate Director at Royal & Derngate Theatres, Northampton, where she directed over 30 plays. She directed I Believe in Unicorns and recently directed Bear and Butterfly for Theatre Hullaballoo and Theatre by the Lake; she co-directed Moominsummer Madness, a co-production between Polka Theatre, Royal & Derngate and Little Angel Theatre and she won two awards for Flathampton, at Brighton Festival in 2013: the Argus Angel award for artistic innovation; and the Latest award for Best Children’s Event. She programmed the Take Off Festival 2013, an international festival of theatre work for children and young people, based in Durham; and she directed Dream Space for Shakespeare’s Globe, a family version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

KATE BUNCE - Designer 
Recent designs include Happy Harry’s Café by Michael Rosen for Birdsnest at Polka Theatre, Wild by Evan Placey and Snowchild, by Emma Reeves for Tutti Frutti Productions. Kate has designed several large interactive installation plays for young audiences directed by Dani Parr for Royal and Derngate, Other favourites include Michael Morpurgo’s I believe in Unicorns, The Glee Club, Wizard of Oz (The New Vic) Transmissions, Nativity, Caribbean Kitchen (Birmingham Rep), Pinocchio, The Borrowers, The Little Mermaid (MAC), Precious Bane, Silent Engine, White Open Spaces, Smashed Eggs (Pentabus Theatre). Kate is also an occasional Design lecturer for The Royal College of Art and Central School of Speech and Drama. 

CATE BLANCHARD - Video Designer 
Cate Blanchard studied Theatre Practice at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where she now teaches as a visiting lecturer in Video Design for performance. Favourite shows she has designed include: LAMDA rep season Directed by Philip Wilson, Amphibians (Offstage Theatre) (Offwestend Award), Cressida Brown, The Magic Flute (English Touring Opera UK Tour), The Changeling (Southwark Playhouse) Vagina Monologues (Charing Cross Theatre). Cate has just co-devised and designed a new play involving use of live camera at The Lowry in collaboration with Routes North and IVO Theatre UK Tour. 


JENNIFER JACKSON - Movement Director 
Jennifer trained at East 15 and is an actor and movement director. Movement direction includes: Stone Face, Silent Planet (Finborough Theatre), Debris (Southwark Playhouse/Openworks Theatre), Macbeth (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), Pericles (Berwaldhallen), Subterranean Sepoys (New Diorama), She was the assistant movement director on the Paines Plough (Roundabout season 2014), (Fringe First Winners), and is an associate artist with OpenWorks Theatre. As a performer Jennifer has worked with the NT, NT Studio, Bath Theatre Royal, Royal & Derngate Theatre, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Theatre 503, Arcola, Openworks Theatre, Derby Theatre, and the Harold Pinter Theatre. 

MARTIN THOMPSON - Sound Designer 
Martin studied Acoustical Engineering at the University of Southampton. He is Head of Stage at the Royal Theatre in Northampton. Recent work includes: I Believe in Unicorns, Moominsummer Madness (Polka Theatre). Dr Korzcak’s Example (Unicorn theatre), Flathampton (Brighton Festival). For The Royal Theatre Northampton: The Love of the Nightingale, Twelfth Night, Love and Information, How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found. Associate work includes: Ruined at the Almeida, London, To Sir With Love (Regeneration UK Tour). 


WILL EVANS - Lighting Designer 
Will trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Recent lighting design credits include: I Believe In Unicorns (Vaudeville and Tour), The Canterbury Tales (Guildford Shakespeare Company), Honest and The Water Engine (Theatre 6), La Boheme (Head First Productions), Moomin Summer Madness (Polka theatre), Aliens Love Underpants (West End &Tour), Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Comedy of Errors (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester) Ruthless, Mudlarks and 66 Books (Bush Theatre, London), Bloody Ballad of Mary Maid (Theatr Iolo, Chapter Arts, Cardiff), Dream Space (Shakespeare’s Globe), Tales of the Harrow Road (Soho Theatre). 

Producer John Miller
Associate Producer Hayley Chester
Production Assistant Nicole Keighley

WIZARD PRESENTS is a theatre production company involved in production, directing and writing for theatre; together with storytelling and education. Wizard Presents was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Soul Sister, inspired by the life and times of Ike and Tina Turner. (Hackney Empire and Savoy Theatre). The company produced All You Need is Love! at Queens Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, featuring the songs of Lennon and McCartney. John Miller was also nominated for an Olivier Award for Only the Lonely - The Roy Orbison Story which he co-wrote. 

‘I Believe in Unicorns’ by Michael Morpurgo premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013 before touring nationally and internationally, including two seasons in London’s West End and at Royal Festival Hall as part of Imagine Children’s Festival in February 2016. It received an Argus Angel Award for Artistic Excellence at Brighton Festival 2014 and an Audience Choice Award for Get Creative Family Arts Festival in 2015. The company is currently developing a major new family musical and a biographical wonder tale ‘Perfectly Imperfect Women’ both are due to premiere in 2017. 

Additional information

Family ticket: 2 Adults and up to 3 Children for £35

Click an image to view a larger version.

Thumbnail of Why the Whales Came: BSL Trailer video

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