Sep 22, 2023

The Grumpiest Child in the World

The Grumpiest Child in the World

An interview with the Performers: Mia Alonso-Green, Poe Tiare Tararo, and Roy Iro.


As Nōku te Ao Capital E’s National Theatre for Children gears up for its newest touring theatre show, we hear from the performers helping bring the story to life on stage.


Mia plays the main character Natalie Briddling, a seven-year-old girl with a bold personality. Mia is musical theatre trained and worked with Capital in Seasons (2021). 


Mia, what can you tell us about Natalie?

Mia: Natalie is a normal kid with a vivid imagination. She creates worlds based on her imagination, but she doesn’t realise because she's so engrossed by them.  She gets called ‘grumpy’, but I don’t think she really is grumpy... In our adaption, we’re not playing her as grumpy, just a misunderstood kid.


What happens when Natalie gets frustrated in the play? What does she do to calm herself down?

Mia: Natalie has these big implosions where she just gets frustrated. She has all these emotions bottled-up, and they start to simmer out, so she calms herself down by drawing and imagining these different worlds, but she also calms herself down by going to a safe space, which I think is pretty cool, most kids do that. She’s got her little safe space which is nice.


Poe Tiare and Roy play an eclectic mix of supporting characters. Poe Tiare plays Mum, Giant, Hirsute, Scientist 1, Monkey, and Grump 1. Roy plays Dad, Void, Scientist 2, Bird, Grump 2, and Lion.


Roy and Poe Tiare, how do your characters fit into the story?

Roy: I think the one thing that ties all the characters together is that they all help to create the imagination of Natalie Briddling. This is primarily Natalies’ journey, and the characters help shape and formulate the journey for her. They help the audience envision the journey, to bring Natalies’ imagination and creative drawings to life, and then help her figure out her emotions.


Poe Tiare: All of the characters other than the mum are basically Natalie’s imaginations. I like to describe them as her emotions, so the grumps are obviously her grumpy side, Hirsute I think of as her curiosity, the scientists are her factual side, I think Monkey is her innocence, and then Giant is her kindness and her loveliness. And then you have her mum, who’s the person that grounds her and who encourages her to go on her journey.


What do you think are the important messages that the show teaches the audience?

Mia: I’d say the important messages are just how important and how cool kids' creativity and imagination is. I think encouraging that creativity and that playfulness that kids have is a really important message. I think we can see Natalie in a lot of kids that we know, and kids can see themselves in Natalie. Her relationship with her mum and dad are really relatable, and just how she explores the world around her.


Poe Tiare: I think the most important message is that your time is coming. At the age of seven, Natalie really wants to be unique, and that’s what the whole journey is. At the end she learns that her time to be unique will come. So, it’s about learning to be patient... your time will come.


Roy: I think the big one that lingers in my mind is from the writer, Finegan Kruckemeyer, who told us what his intentions were for the show… that it was written for kids who feel a bit restless, who have the need to go fast and to be able to do things now. The writer insisted on the idea that your time is coming, just wait and hold on. So, I guess that’s the main message we’re trying to convey. To honour the writer and the writing.

Another main message that we convey is that it’s ok to be not-normal or weird… what does weird even mean? Just to have fun with what you have now, because you’re going to get old, things are going to get real, then it's going to be boring.


The show is designed for tamariki ages 5-11 and will be performing in public theatres and schools across Aotearoa.


What do you expect will be particularly good or bad about performing for a child audience?

Mia: I think the best thing about performing for kids will be seeing the different reactions at each show, because the kids at each venue will have different reactions. That’s also one of the hardest things, because we have to work even harder to figure out how to make the audience enjoy it even more... the same gag in Hawke’s Bay may not react the same in Wellington, you know?

Poe Tiare: I guess it's about not knowing how they’re going to react, because we're just going in with the thought that the kids are going to love it, but they could hate it… You never know what to expect with children.


Roy: The best part is that a kid audience is willing to play. I like to play with the audience, but when you play with a grown audience or a teenage audience, they play for one bit and then get shy… kids don’t get shy, they don’t know what shy is, so when the audience is children, they just keep running, keep playing, which is also great and exciting, but at the same time as an actor I have to figure out how to stop that…  [laughing] and I don’t know how to stop it.






Mia Alonso-Green


Natalie (world-class grump)


Poe Tiare Tararo

(Kūki 'Āirani, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa)


Mum, Giant, Hirsute, Scientist 1, Monkey, Grump 1


Roy Iro

(Kūki 'Āirani)


Dad, Void, Scientist 2, Bird, Grump 2, Lion


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