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Inspired by book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Produced by Tall Stories

From London, England

Longing to see the world, the tiny sea snail hitches a lift on the tail of a great, grey-blue humpback whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, told through live cello music and singing, storytelling and lots of laughs ... but when the whale gets beached, how will the snail save him?


Join an adventurous young girl and her sea-faring father as they re-imagine the story of a tiny snail’s incredible trip around the world, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book.

With great STEAM and SEL connections, the performance vividly brings to life the story of “The Snail and the Whale”, which won the 2004 Early Years award for the best pre-school book, the 2005 Blue Peter award for Best Book to Read Aloud, and the 2007 Giverny award for Best Science Picture Book.

This play with music is a heart-warming adventure for everyone aged four and up from Tall Stories, the Olivier Award-nominated company that brought you ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘Room on the Broom’ live on stage.

About the Company

Best for: Grades PreK-3rd (Ages 4-8 years)

Audience Size: Small, Medium, & Large Venues

Please contact us to watch a full length archival recording.

Curriculum Connections

Curriculum Connections
  • Language Arts: Role Playing, Problem Solving, Imagination, Storytelling, Vocabulary, Rhyming (Repetition of the rhymes from the book are used throughout the show. Narration is used to aid the storytelling.) 

  • Literature & Reading (suggested reading: The Snail and the Whale, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler)

  • Science: Animals (Snail, Whales, Sharks, Penguins), The Natural Environment, Volcanoes, Icebergs

  • Fine Arts: Drama, Live Music

  • Emotional/Social Development:  Courage, Teamwork, Empathy, Problem Solving, Friendship, Leadership, Self Awareness


Outreach and Workshops

With advance notice, Tall Stories can offer additional workshop or outreach opportunities and pre/post performance events. Possible activities include:


Tall Stories present Small Stories

Tall Stories present a workshop, which looks at some of the ways they use to tell stories in their shows. Find out how to create a story in pictures, how to create a character using your body – and then tell your own story in small groups. The workshop is a fast-moving, enjoyable introduction to storytelling in theatre – using games, freeze frames and well-known tales. Lots of fun – dress in loose clothes!

  • Duration: 1 hour

  • Max no of pupils: Ideally 20 

  • Age suitability: Suitable for 5 to 8 year olds. (Teacher must be present)

  • Room: A clear, self contained room large enough for the number of participants and preferably not the theatre space itself.


“Relaxed” or “Sensory Friendly” Performances

This performance is also available as a “sensory friendly” or “relaxed” performance if arranged with the company in advance and with specific direction as to what adjustments are necessary for your venue.  Tall Stories frequently holds Sensory Friendly performances, signed/audio described performances, pre-show touch tours, and more. The company can provide a sample visual guide to the story for Sensory Performances and discuss any other aids that would be useful.

Minimum Technical Requirements

Minimum Tech
  • Load In Time: 4 hours (with lights pre-hung)

  • Min. Stage Size: 20' width x 20' depth x 12' height, ideally with access to auditorium. The show is performed as far downstage as possible.

  • Sound: The show uses a viola electrically amplified via a radio mic, receiver and effects pedal. This will need to be patched into the venue’s sound system, preferably via a DI Box. In houses over 200 seats, please supply 3 wireless mics and transmitters. 

  • Crew Needs: 4 crew members for load in/out- not students or volunteers. 2 crew members to run show.

  • Load Out Time: 1- 2 hours

Artistic Team

Artistic Team

Adapted by the company from the picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler


Director:  Toby Mitchell

Creative Producer: Olivia Jacobs

Designer: Isla Shaw

Lighting Designer: James Whiteside

Composer: Richard Heacock

Set Construction: Footprint Scenery and Harrogate Theatre Scenic Services


Touring Company Consists of 1 Crew Member and 3 Performers

Whale/Dad: TBA           

Narrator/Viola: TBA           

Snail/Daughter: TBA           

Critical Acclaim for THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Critical Acclaim

“Joyous in every way… a textbook example of how to do theatre for children right.” ***** (5 stars!)

—Broadway Baby

“Captivating, inventive storytelling along with beautiful live music and songs – it’s highly recommended that you climb aboard and set sail!” ***** (5 stars!)

—Edinburgh Festivals for Kids

“The relationship between the characters in this Tall Stories production is magical and succeeds in showing us the infinite possibilities of imaginative storytelling. This is a well crafted production of a much loved children’s tale, which appeals to those little ones making their first trip to the theatre and seasoned young theatregoers alike. For me, it was one of the best examples of children's theatre that I have seen.... The clever frame story gives Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's original book an emotional boost. And Tall Stories' exceptional attention to detail and endearing characterisation present a show which manages to conjure up a few bubbles of warmth in even the most toughened grown-up's heart.” ***** (5 stars!)

—What's On Stage

“The Snail and the Whale has been skilfully adapted to provide an engaging family experience which was really visual and really caught the imagination of my children. I highly recommend this show to anyone who is a Julia Donaldson fan and indeed those who are new to her work.” ***** (5 stars!)

—What's Good To Do

“Tall Stories have made an art of ­adapting Julia Donaldson’s picture books… a challenge the company have risen to by constructing a wider storyline to cleverly hang Donaldson’s tale on.” ***** (5 stars!)

—The Scotsman

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Company Background

Anchor 1

Past Tours include: Wilde CreaturesEmily Brown and the Thing; The Gruffalo;The Gruffalo’s ChildSnail and the Whale; and Room on the Broom


Tall Stories brings great stories to life for audiences of all ages. The company is a registered charity which tours the UK and the world with its exciting blend of storytelling theatre, original music and lots of laughs. Tall Stories was founded in 1997 by co-directors Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell. Tall Stories shows have played in the West End, on Broadway and in the Sydney Opera House – as well as all sorts of venues and countries in between.

THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE production was created in 2012 and has previously toured to the USA and Canada in 2014 (including the New Victory Theater, New York, in October 2014), Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia (including Sydney Opera House). In December 2019 it will run in London’s West End.

For more information, please visit the company's website.

Past Productions

Gallery of Past Productions

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