A musical based on my Fjodorbooks with songs by Felix Janosa was staged in Landshut in Germany in December 2014. I had a little chat with director Barbara Pöschl who was in charge of “Fjodor frecher Kabeljau”.
Pål: – Why did you want to stage a musical about Fjodor in Landshut?
Barbara: The idea to do Fjodor came through my search for a new childrens musical with music by Felix Janosa. We had a success with his Ritter Rost a few years ago. So I asked Stephanie Böhm at Terzio if they had a nice story to offer. She suggested Fjodor and told me how much she liked him. I read the books, liked him also and decided to try.
Pål: Was it difficult to find a good actor for Fjodor, and how did you make him behave and appear as a naughty fish?
Barbara: The Singer-Actor of my Fjodor is the perfect cast. He also was my Ritter Rost. The kids liked him a lot, also as Fjodor…even if it really was not so easy to create a fish-figure for the stage. I always had in mind that he has to be funny, nasty, a little obnoxious and mean – but loveable. He should be a showoff. Kids intuitively classify that and put his actions in the right order… I think.
Toni, that’s my actor’s name, has the right feeling for it and he is very good with the kids, exactly sensing how far he can go, not to scare them.
Of course, the outfit had to be more a phantasy-fish than a ‘cold’ fishcostume. It took me a while, to figure out, how to do it. But then it was very easy, also to create Siri, Maike and Finja. With their pastelcoloured, fluffy, shiny costumes they became a contrast to the ‘real people’ on stage.
Pål: – Did you use playback music or live music?
Barbara: I used the playbacks. Everything else would have cost to much money and time.
But I arranged the music for my chorus girls Siri, Maike and Finja – who cannot talk! And so it became a nice different sounding touch. The chorus comments everything by singing.
Pål: – You have even made the script for the Fjodorplay that is distributed by Musicals on Stage. What did you do to make the stories and songs about Fjodor work on stage?
Barbara: I actually wrote two different textbooks. One, which allows children as actors, and the other one which I did in Landshut with adult actors.
The childrens setting is a combination of your first and third book and many children can participate. The adult setting is a mixture of your first and second book, where you only have 7 actors to manage. This aspect was important to me. And also: I chose the second book, because it’s the only one where Palles mama appears as a real person- not only being talked about. Well, I think a theatrical setting for children should show a whole Family, not? In your third book we have the kabeljau family, by the way.
Going along the stories I created dialogs, which allow to put the different episodes into action ….in which Siri, Maike and Finja play an important part….
I think the adult stage concept is working nicely.
Pål: – There was a third show in January this year. Will there be even more?
Barbara: I like to push Fjodor at least in Landshut by trying to bring him back on stage at the end of this year.
My problem is, that neither my Fjodor-, nor my Palle-actor, have time to participate. So I have to find substitutes. Well, I’ll see and let you know.
Are you interested to bring Fjodor on stage in Norway? A nice idea, isn’t it? But in any case, if we play Fjodor again here, it would be very special to have you as our guest.
Pål: – Can you tell me a little about yourself, your background with music and your work in Landshut?
Barbara: Professionaly I am an opera singer… not being into opera anymore. Several years ago I got into coaching musical-groups and doing my own music-shows with a classical touch. I always was very interested in music-theater and how to organize everything – staging, singing and the technical parts.
And, with the experience of success, you start to try more, don’t you?
So we’ll see what adventures the future will bring.