Shockheaded Peter

Shockheaded Peter (2013) is a theatre production by The Norwegian Theatre,  based on the musical by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott. The music was created by the band The Tiger Lillies, which at the time of the writing of the musical consisted of Martyn Jacques, Adrian Stout and Adrian Huge.

Erik Ulfsby directed it.

Vidar Magnussen won The Hedda Award 2014 in the best leading actor category for the role of the M.C.

In addition, stage designer Arne Nøst was nominated for The Hedda Award 2014 in the best stage design/costume design category.

Originally The Norwegian Theatre had planned the opening of Shockheaded Peter to the autumn of 2011, but the theatre chose to postpone the musical for two years after the terror attack July 22 2011.


(Objekt ID 36014)
Object type Production
Premiere August 30, 2013
Produced by The Norwegian Theatre
Based on Shockheaded Peter by Julian Crouch, Phelim McDermott; Shockheaded Peter by Heinrich Hoffmann
Audience Adults, Youth
Audience size 33492
Number of events 75
Language Norwegian Nynorsk
Keywords Musical, Theatre
Running period August 30, 2013  —  2015
Duration 1 hour, 20 minutes

The Hedda Jury gave the following reason for the best leading actor award to Vidar Magnussen:

"One of the truly difficult assignments an actor may have is to enter an agreement with the audience to play on the same team. This is demanding, because an open proposal will swiftly be turned down by the auditorium. In this exercise one needs more than a solid talent. The actor has to balance between his professional knowledge and his professional skill. A not at all small musical sense of timing is also a good assistant.

This two-way communication between stage and auditorium, plus scene presence in interaction with the other performers, constitutes an extraordinary difficult theatrical balance act without a security net. This year's award winner performed this demanding act steady as a mountain.

This year's best leading actor award goes to Vidar Magnussen."

At the webpage of The Norwegian Theatre the following, among other things, is written about Shockheaded Peter:

"Here it's simple: Parents warn their children about the consequences of being naughty, children ignore their parents' warnings, and the parents, of course, are proven right. The result is brutal in the witty journey towards the final, ruthless punishment.

Cult musical
The piece demonstrates that there is no limit to what a musical may be about. Shockheaded Peter opened in England in 1998, and soon became an international success. The British duo Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott found the stories in the German children's book Der Struwwelpeter, put it within a framing story about a childless couple who eventually gets its wish fulfilled, and added a good dose of humour and brutality. The result is a musical that turns upside-down the contemporary rose-tinted version of being a parent.

Horror and humour
Here, the original German children's book Der Struwwelpeter meets the British nonsense tradition, and the combination makes Shockheaded Peter a quick-witted mix of truths, cruelties and wit. A humorous and grotesque children's story for adults. Here, what happens to children who can't behave is right bad. He who sucks his thumb gets his finger cut off, bad boys are overpowered by those who are worse, and those who play with matchsticks finally set fire to themselves and become flame and ashes. In short- what we in the moment of heat may accidentally threaten our kids with actually happens.

About bad children – for kind parents
Shockheaded Peter builds on ten little stories written by the German psychiatrist Heinrich Hoffmann in 1845, called Der Struwwelpeter - in English, Shockheaded Peter and Norwegian, Busteper. The book was a reaction to the kind and pedagogic way to raise children, and the performance may be a liberating fresh breath to those who find that today's upbringing methods are wrapped into too much cosiness and free reign. This is about the bad children, about all the shitty kids, about all you really think about children - but never dared to speak out loud; that children suck money, love and the living daylights out of you!

Musical cocktail
Shockheaded Peter transcends the musical as a genre. The music is a mix of circus and cabaret. We have seen several examples the past few years that musicians from the rock world have been brought to the musical stage. Robert Wilson's collaboration with Tom Waits is well-known and here at home Kaizers Orchestra's music has entered the stage in Sonny at Rogaland Theatre. Behind the music of Shockheaded Peter is the oddball punk cabaret band The Tiger Lillies.

Leading the band (at The Norwegian Theatre, not The Tiger Lillies, Sceneweb's comment) is Espen Beranek Holm. Vidar Magnussen guides us through the wildness in the role of the master of ceremonies. The theatre's director and theatre director Erik Ulfsby and his collaborators have made a performance mixing several genres. Costumes, acting and song are located someplace in the intersection between Tim Burton's universe, the cabaret tradition, British nonsense and a darker version of our own Margrethe Munthe."


Import from the list of openings 09.09.2013

The Norwegian Theatre,, 05.01.2014,

The Hedda Award,, 19.05.2014,

The Hedda Award 2014,, 16.06.2014,

Performance dates
April 2015Hovudscenen, The Norwegian Theatre New opening
August 30, 2013 20:00 – Hovudscenen, The Norwegian Theatre National premiere, Norway
Press coverage

Lillian Bikset, Dagbladet, Rocka horrorshow (literally: Rocked-up horror show), 30.08.2013:

"Shockheaded Peter was really to have been performed the autumn of 2011. The Norwegian Theatre chose to postpone it: A performance in which children and youth are killed one by one, in grotesque ways and for infinitesimal reasons, could easily have offended theatre audiences a few months after the Utøya shootings. (...) The foundation for the plot is no more tasteful in 2013. But then again tastefulness is not what Shockheaded Peter aims toward. Nor should it be anything to feel offended by. The underpinnings are too absurd. The effects are too far from reality, the characters too parodic and the methods of death too unlikely. The performance's 'blood' and 'gore' are also too far from realistic to awaken disgust. Instead Shockheaded Peter is a bubbly, energetic staging; a gothic-like overdone satire circus, with macabre sketch tableaus, mixed with pantomime, song and dance, puppetry and even a sequence of shadow play. We may call it a theatre-technical playroom for genre-transcending stage expressions, splatter humour and visual surprises."

Stein Østbø, VG, Død og pine! (literally: Death and damnation), 30.08.2013:

"Still there is a lot of German (the music) and English (the humour) left, but Are Kalvø has done phenomenal work in translating the text into New Norwegian - for instance it is exemplary simple and natural in the rhymes of the lyrics, and extremely eloquent and appropriately pompous in its text fragments. (...) In the mouth of the master of ceremonies, seducer and circus manager Vidar Magnussen (who is presented like an evil Willy Wonka) Kalvø creates great humour as well as prose, even though one sometimes has to concentrate extra hard to hear, exactly because Magnussen is such a dedicated, hissing, passionately evil dynamo in the show. Much of the responsibility for the progress rests on Vidar Magnussen's shoulders. He manages with flying honours. Magnussen is simply captivating good in his role, but naturally, he also has excellent performers around him at all times."

Mode Steinkjer, Dagsavisen, Død, pine og barneoppdragelse (literally: Death, damnation and bringing up children), 02.09.2013:

"There is a lot of death in the horror musical Shockheaded Peter, and all who die have in common that they are disobedient, bad and spoilt brats who don't behave the way their mothers tell them to. It is also a secured theatre success and something of the most eccentric we have seen for a long time, a musical unlike anything else. Imagine that Tim Burton at his darkest and most curious should meet Tom Waits at his coolest and most absurd."

Awards - Nominations (1)