And stories to tell

Play School favourites Alex Papps and Michelle Lim Davidson.
Play School favourites Alex Papps and Michelle Lim Davidson.

NOT much has changed on the Play School set during the last decade in which Alex Papps has enjoyed the role of co-host.

In fact, not a great deal has altered over the almost 50 years the show has aired.

That is what makes the beloved ABC children�s series, synonymous with Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima and Humpty, so special.

Watch it today as an adult and feel a wave of nostalgia as the familiar toys come to life and stories and songs unfold.

�Like many people, I grew up with Play School and when I graduated from drama school (WAAPA) in the early �90s, I thought I would love to do the show and tried for about eight years to get an audition but never got my foot in the door,� Papps said.

�Finally I managed to get an audition and that�s how my history on the program came about.

�The show has become this iconic thing, held so closely to people�s hearts and still valued as a really useful learning tool as far as TV goes.�

Community asked the former soapie heartthrob, fondly remembered as Vince from The Henderson Kids and Frank from Home and Away, whether his sought-after presenting gig came with drawbacks or challenges.

�It is as fun as it looks � it�s a gift of a job and a real privilege,� Papps said.

�The only thing remotely tedious is learning the lines. It is fully scripted and a lot of care goes into the way language is used, the themes explored and activities we do.

�One challenge � a pleasurable challenge � is constantly honing that version of yourself that is you, but a personable, gentle, conversational version of you, which kids can relate to on camera.�

Papps does not classify this role as acting, but rather a unique performance that demands he be entirely unselfconscious.

�At the risk of sounding precious about it, you have to access the kid inside you and I don�t mean in a profound or therapeutic way,� he said.

�You have to be able to look silly and play in a way that kids play before they grow up and become aware of the pressures of life.�

Papps and Michelle Lim Davidson bring live Play School performance, Once Upon a Time, to Perth this month and September.

�It�s a brand new show this year and one of my favourites of the shows I�ve done over the last decade,� Papps said.

�Unsurprisingly, the premise is a storybook and it�s a really beautiful set that is constantly evolving visually, so there is always something for the kids to engage with on stage.

�There are lots of familiar songs that parents and kids can sing along and dance to and they get to see the toys as well.�


What: Once Upon a Time

When: August 28-September 7

Where: Como, Fremantle, Midvale, West Perth, Morley, Joondalup, Byford