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Dear Zoo live on stage! bounces back from the theft of tour bus

The theatrical version of Dear Zoo is returning to Rhodes Arts Complex this month following the show’s popular reception at the South Road venue in February.

But in the spring, 10 weeks after the performances in Bishop’s Stortford, Norwell Lapley Productions – the team behind the show – were forced to cancel the final leg of the tour after their tour bus was stolen in Peterborough.

The heavily-branded Mercedes-Benz truck contained around £50,000 worth of props, costumes and set pieces. Thousands of families who had booked tickets to see the show were devastated when it was brought to an abrupt halt, as were the six actors who were left without work. The production’s future was in jeopardy.

The Dear Zoo tour is back at the Hazlitt Theatre (18389448)
The Dear Zoo tour is back at the Hazlitt Theatre (18389448)

Despite a nationwide search by the police and producers of the show, the tour bus and its contents have still not been recovered.

Thankfully, an anonymous donor came to Dear Zoo’s rescue and the show has been able to go on.

The combination of insurance and generosity of the kind-hearted benefactor has enabled the company to cover most of their financial losses which were incurred as a result of the theft. A new set has been built and Dear Zoo live on stage! has started delighting audiences once again.


Chris Davis, of Norwell Lapley Productions, said: “We are really delighted that we are now able to go ahead and put Dear Zoo out on the road again thanks to a very generous anonymous donation.

“Support for the show has been amazing and the sympathetic response from the public has been quite overwhelming.

“We had confirmed some tour dates for the autumn, but they were in doubt as we were not sure if we would be able to cover costs following the disastrous theft of the Dear Zoo live on stage! tour bus.”

Now the troupe’s autumn tour has been able to go ahead, wherever possible the cancelled shows have been rebooked.


Rod Campbell’s famous lift-the-flap children’s book, which was first published 37 years ago, has sold eight million copies in 20 languages since 1982 and tells the story of a child who writes to the zoo asking to be sent a pet.

The stage adaptation brings the tale to life with puppets, music and plenty of audience interaction.

Dear Zoo live on stage! will be performed at Rhodes four times across two dates: Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20. Tickets to the show cost £14 individually and £51 for a family of four. Visit rhodesartscomplex.co.uk or call the box office on 01279 710200 to book.

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