Barb Jungr on creating the soundtrack

November 18, 2016

It has been a total joy working on the music for How To Hide A Lion. When Polka Artistic Director Peter Glanville asked me to come and work on the piece and gave me Helen Stephen’s book I loved the story straight away.

I was fascinated by the lion and his – I always thought of the lion as a “he”, interestingly – friendship with Iris, and the burglary; there seemed to be so much life and joy in the story, especially with the triumph at the end of the lion being celebrated by the town that had at first run him out.

When we started to work on the piece I thought the lion wanting a hat made him a bit of a jazz character. So many jazz musicians like a hat! That suggested a swing flavour, which also gave the lion a walking rhythm. There was a really clear indication that there should be a trumpet, I thought that would give us such a beautiful sense of the jazz element but it also was wonderful for the town and its Hall and precious candlestick!

The townspeople were so funny I thought they were slightly Gilbert and Sullivan-esque. I wanted them to have a gentle pomp to their sound and songs and in the studio Jonathan Lee really gave us some great marching rhythms. The ideas all came from the characters and puppets, together.

As I was keen for the music to sound alive, I enlisted some of the best of London’s working jazz musicians. Everyone was not only happy to take part but gave such great performances. We recorded Jonathan Lee on drums, Andy Hamill on bass, Pete Horsfall on trumpet and Jenny Carr (with whom I worked closely) on piano at Christoph Bracher’s North London studio.

I am really happy with the results, and to have actor/puppeteers with such lovely voices as Claire and Phil was the icing on the cake.

How to Hide a Lion is on in the Adventure Theatre from 26 Oct – 26 Feb 2017, click here for more information and to book.