Since 2013, the H. C. Andersen Festivals take place every late August for a week-long festivity in Odense, Denmark. It brings H. C. Andersen’s birth town to life with over 500 cultural and musical events for people of all ages. The HCA Festival team approached us to create a new reading of Andersen’s legacy. ‘House of Wonders’ was developed as a community-driven experience giving local children a powerful voice.
The show revolves around a children’s campaign against bedtime. HCA’s character Ole Lukøje (the Danish sandman) tries to uphold it by creating a sleepy atmosphere for the children throughout the evening. The children boycott this by participating in upbeat dance routines and music.
Eventually, Ole has enough and wants to quit. The children feel pity for him and agree to go to bed – if they can have one last hurray. After both sides come to an agreement, a big finale ends the evening with light, video, and pyro to wow the audience and celebrate the outcome.
In several workshops held by the H. C. Andersen Museum, we invited children from the region to become vital co-creators of the 'House of Wonder' visual storytelling. This collaborative approach gave them ownership over this public celebration of his legacy; they became storytellers in the footsteps of Denmark’s greatest poet. We further developed this into a narrative, created motion designs and music, and together with local talent, brought it all to life.
The free public event created growing interest over the course of 6 shows on 3 consecutive days. Word-to-mouth propaganda led to a constantly growing number of spectators. Approx. 2,000 to 3,000 spectators watched each show, filling up the audience area in Munke Mose Park, but also the streets leading to the park. Local press named the event the "first true family-orientated highlight show" in the 9-year history of the HCA Festivals.
Watching the experience convinced several potential sponsors to sign up for a multi-year sponsorship, securing the festival’s potential to grow. 'House of Wonder' is currently in development as a touring production with interested partners in China, Australia, and the Middle East. Battle Royal Studios and the H.C. Andersen Festivals will continue their relationship with new co-created legacy experiences in the near future.
Creative Director - Michael Masberg
Creative Producer - Andy Machals
Project Management - Nadine Leder
Production Management - Jin-Ah Kim
Choreography - Denis We & Stefanos Bizas
Motion Design - Duncan McDade
Music & Sound Design - Deimos Virgillito
Light Design - Chris Moylan & Matthias Schöffmann
Costume Design - Isabel Jazzabell
Tech - Ambion GmbH
Stage Design - Martina Schiffgens
Scribbles and Previsualisation - Xevi Venan & Frank Richter
Pyro Special Effects - Søren Anthony from SpecialFX Denmark
Hair & Make Up - Ea Hvarre
Video Producer - Alexandra Weltz-Rombach
Stage Management - Florian Bücking & Gerrit Hotzel
With Albert Buchreitz, Lærke Ravn, Matthias Harrebye Brandt, KGL Teater Balletskolen Odense
Photos by Rudi Buhl, Chris Moylan & HCA Festivals