When old meets new
Nikolaus Weil, managing director of Greenlight Media and co-producer of SimsalaGrimm, talks to the Stadtkurier.
SK: What should the audience in Freiburg expect from SimsalaGrimm on April 21?
Nikolaus Weil: Popular, tried and true Grimm’s fairy tales with a little twist. Fairy tales that introduce some new elements, but in the end are old-fashioned. Fairy tales that have a happy ending. A story narrated in exciting fashion and accompanied by great music.
SK: How did this idea, about?
Nikolaus Weil: The SimsalaGrimm series featuring the adventures of Yoyo and Doc Croc has now been around for more than 10 years. My partner of 20 years, Stefan Beiten, and I developed this concept in the mid-1990s with our company Greenlight Media and ultimately produced the series. After the Bible, Grimm’s fairy tales is the most read book. In the past, the only film versions were Disney films and live action films. But there was no animated series. Our intention was not to radically change Grimm’s fairy tales, but to add something new. That’s were Yoyo and Doc Croc come in. Somewhere along the line the idea arose to produce a musical in cooperation with Sony Music. The whole thing is staged masterfully by Cocomico in Cologne.
SK: How long has the musical been on tour now?
Nikolaus Weil: For one and a half years. The musical has been shown all over Germany, from Flensburg to Garmisch, from East to West. I had the pleasure of seeing the musical in Dresden. Overall, the musical has been seen by about 80,000 theatergoers. We are very happy that the musical is so successful, especially considering that children nowadays are digitalized at an early age.
SK: Is it good thing if children are familiar with the fairy tales by the Grimm brothers?
Nikolaus Weil: Fairytales are still part of the standard repertoire, the good night stories parents read to the children. One of our objectives is to promote an important part of the German heritage. Even films from Hollywood continue to feature Grimm fairy tales. They are stories about good and evil. Basic values are turned upside down and then restored by heroes resulting in a happy ending.
SK: What are the roles of Yoyo and Doc Croc?
Nikolaus Weil: Yoyo and Doc Croc are the main characters. They appear in all episodes. Ultimately, they are responsible for producing a happy ending. They are also the heroes in the musical. Our target group are children between the ages of two to seven. We are in competition with less traditional characters, such as SpongeBob. Yoyo is the mischievous kid, whereas Doc Croc is smart and knowledgeable. One could say that they are polar opposites: the way a child wants to be, and the way a child should be.
SK: Were the songs of the musical composed specifically for the musical?
Nikolaus Weil: Yes, the musical score was composed and arranged completely from scratch. We are very happy with the end result. Music was always an important element of the series.
SK: Does the musical target a younger audience? Are there also interactive elements?
Nikolaus Weil: Yes, there are scenes with elements that interactively include children. There must be certain dynamics for children, that’s part of it.
SK: What are your hopes for the future of SimsalaGrimm?
Nikolaus Weil: The tour will end in May. Then there will be a creative break. A new tour is scheduled to start at the end of the year. The fairy tale material offers so many dramaturgical elements. Conceivably, there may be a third season, Christmas special or theatrical film. The stage play is good practice. There is much to experiment with, and it helps to have resonance with the audience.
For now, I hope that the audience in Freiburg will enjoy the musical. I attended university in Freiburg and very much enjoyed my time there.