The Wolves In The Walls
Based on the illustrated storybook by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Directed by Vicky Featherstone
Starring Helen Mallon, George Drennan, Anita Vettesse, and Neil McNulty
The New Victory Theater — New York, NY
If the wolves come out of the walls, then it’s all over. — Lucy’s family in The Wolves In The Walls storybook
The musical for The Wolves in the Walls is based on a great children’s storybook written by my favorite author Neil Gaiman.
The story is about a young girl named Lucy who hears noises coming from the walls in her house and discovers that there are wolves living inside of them. As most stories like this go, when Lucy tries to tell her family, they don’t believe her. After a while, her family begins hearing the noises in the walls too. They tell her that it must be bats, rats, and mice, because if it IS wolves in the walls, and they come out, then “it’s all over.” Well, it wouldn’t be much of a story if the wolves didn’t eventually come out of the walls, now would it?
When this book came out a few years ago, my aunt and uncle (who took me to this play) gave me an autographed copy of it for my birthday. The author even drew a picture of a wolf in it along with a birthday message, so I was really excited to see the play. On my way to the theater tonight, I couldn’t help but wonder what the play and the theater itself (The New Victory Theater on 42nd St. in Manhattan) was going to be like.
On the bottom floor of the theater, there was a special little room with walls that were decorated with illustrations from the book, items that were mentioned in the book, and other things related to wolves (look below to see the photo I took of one of the walls). Inside the room were kids coloring their own wolf masks. Being a 14-year-old, I thought I was probably a little too old to participate, but I just couldn’t resist. Plus, my little brother (who accompanied me) is a little shy and wouldn’t have colored a mask if I didn’t do it too.
So, I colored my own wolf mask, and I think it came out really cool looking (my uncle said it was very Jasper Johns — and since I’ve been to the MoMA a dozen times, I actually knew what he meant!). After that, the show was about to start, so my aunt, my uncle, my little brother, and I all went upstairs to our seats, which were close to the stage. The stage set was decorated exactly like the illustrations from the book (which were drawn by Dave McKean).
Sitting in my chair I was so anxious for the play to start. I didn’t really know what to expect and I didn’t know ahead of time that it was going to be a musical. Also, I didn’t think it would be as good as the book. But when Helen Mallon (who plays Lucy) started to sing, I was pretty surprised, because as soon as she opened her mouth, I fell in love with her voice. After watching the play for a few minutes, I really started to get into it and it kept my interested the entire time (about 90 minutes).
I really enjoyed the songs that were sung, and every time I looked at my little brother I could see that he was enjoying them too. At some parts, things got dark and loud and scary, and even though the wolves in the musical were played by puppeteers that you could see, it scared my little brother a little bit. There were a lot of kids in the audience and they were getting scared too (but not terrified), but it interested me so much, my eyes were glued!
I’ve read the book several times to my little brother, so I basically know the book word for word. I was really paying attention to see if there was any major differences from the book and I had trouble finding any. Even the feeling (which my aunt tells me is the “tone” and the “voice”) was the same from book to musical. The songs they wrote for the musical followed along perfectly with the story from the book. (That’s probably because Neil Gaiman wrote some of the lyrics for the songs, according to the program booklet they gave out.) Actually, I think the musical had a lot of parts that were funnier and scarier then they came across in the book, which was a nice surprise.
The play originally was performed in Scotand by the National Theatre of Scotland and it’s been in New York for a few weeks. I wish I could recommend that everyone go see it right away, but it turns out that tomorrow is the last day it’s here. This musical was really great and a lot of fun for adults and kids, so if it ever comes back, definitely go see it. I know I will!