Interview: talking parties, cake and fun family games with the cast of Spot’s Birthday Party

27 Feb 2024


Based on the beloved Eric Hill books, Spot’s Birthday Party is an exciting new interactive show bringing everyone’s favourite pup to the stage. We caught up with cast members Amber Kelly, James Dodd and Jessica Friend before they party in our Courtyard theatre from 5-6 March.

Is it fun bringing Spot off the page onto the stage?

Amber (Spot): It’s so fun. It’s really nice to do something that frees me to go back to that childish world of play and excitement. As you get older, you get more self-conscious, so having the chance to essentially become like a child again is great!

James (Sam, Spot’s dad, Tom the crocodile and Steve the monkey): It’s wonderful to see Spot come to life right in front of you. This show gives audiences a chance to be part of a world that a lot of families know and love which spans so many generations. The show stays so true to the original Spot stories. We want audiences to feel as though they have stepped into that world, and it feels really familiar to them and inviting. Even if people don’t necessarily know the books (although I think in fairness EVERYONE knows Spot) it should feel like everyone feels welcome to party with Spot!

Do you have a favourite character?

James: I couldn’t ever choose, that would be like asking me my favourite child! The great thing about all the characters is that you’d want to be friends with them. They’re loveable and make you want to spend time with them – they’re just great fun to be around.

Tell us a bit about what we’ll see on stage.

Jessica (Sally, Spot’s mum and Helen the hippo): The whole show will feel instantly familiar to fans of the Spot books from Puffin. The illustrations are so well known with their simple and vibrant colours, and the show features all of that. The costumes are great and we wear headdresses that take the 2D book illustrations into 3D live versions. They are instantly recognisable as the Spot characters.

Amber: And, of course, we – and the audience – will all be wearing party hats too for Spot’s birthday!

It sounds like the audience will be getting involved then?

Amber: Yes, it’s really interactive. As well as party hats, we have a dancing game, and we have to find Spot and lots of the other characters.

Jessica: It works a bit like lifting the flaps in the Spot books. There are ‘reveals’ in the show where we search for characters, lifting furniture or a curtain, where we ask the audience to help us.

Amber: It’s a bit like hide and seek and we also have musical statues and fancy dress. There’ s an astronaut, a wizard, a pirate and more. So, if anyone joins us in fancy dress, we’d love that!

You’re using Makaton in the show – can you tell us what that is?

James: It’s a way of using symbols, signs and speech that enables children to communicate pre-speech and helps people who are unable to communicate easily through words alone.

Amber: The physicality of Makaton is self-explanatory even if you don’t ‘know’ it. It makes sense to everyone, so it works for the whole audience. Children recognise physicality and movement more easily than words. It will be exciting to see how the audience responds.

Everyone knows Spot! Was he a big part of your childhood?

Jessica: I remember being read Where’s Spot? when I was little. When I saw the cover again as an adult. it took me back to being very young. It was on our bookshelf for a very long time as I have younger siblings, so it was a big part of my life.

James: I remember my grandad reading me the books. They were so interactive; I loved lifting the flaps. It’s really exciting that we are bringing that element to the show.

Amber: We all have such fond memories of Spot from our childhood. He makes us all feel very nostalgic and warm.

Do you have any fond memories of your own birthday parties as a child?

Jessica: I have strong memories of the Black Lace song ‘Superman’ being played at all the birthday parties. I’m not sure if that’s a fond memory or not but it’s very clear!

Amber: My parents organised a magician for my birthday party who made me ‘fly’. Still, to this day, I don’t know how!

Favourite birthday cake?

Jessica: It has to be Colin the Caterpillar.

Amber: I like a red velvet.

James: Mine would have to be a big, big chocolate cake with lots of chocolate frosting and more chocolate on top in a chocolate bowl – with some chocolate on the side.


    Arts Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • LTB Foundation
  • Principal Partner

    Caddick Group
  • Principal Access Partner

    Irwin Mitchell