By Tristan Harris Wednesday 20 March 2013 Updated: 20/03 12:37
YOUNGSTERS heading for Artrix during the Easter holidays can embark on some Really Wild Adventures when TV presenter and children's author Michaela Strachan comes to Bromsgrove.
The star of the Really Wild Show and Springwatch has adapted her Really Wild Adventures book of poems about her enconters with animals into a stage show.
This week Standard editor Tristan Harris spoke to her about the forthcoming production.
FROM big cats and giraffes, to penguins and polar bears, Michaela Strachan has seen, and even more impressively, had encounters with plenty of animals from around the world.
And now she will be sharing those experiences with audiences across the UK in her family show, which is aimed at three to ten-year-olds, and sees the poems she has written set to music.
The instruments, pace of the music and sets change to reflect the animal encounter poem being performed.
Of all the animals she has 'met', Michaela said one of the strangest came when she was set a bizarre challenge - she had to extract a tooth from a polar bear.
The poem about her death-defying dentistry features in Really Wild Adventures, along with a host of others.
Michaela said one of her most scariest encounters happened with a herd of elephants.
As she and her party were walking, one of them turned and signalled they were going to charge.
"I was told to walk backwards very slowly, then it came nearer, so I was told to walk backwards even quicker and it came even closer.
"The next thing I know, I was being told to run," she added.
Luckily, on that occasion, it was just a mock charge and Michaela escaped unscathed.
At the other end of the scale, when asked which was her favourite animal, one in particular stood out.
"I really like orangutans because I have done so much work with them and they are so incredibly gentle."
But she added: "I'm also a big fan of sharks - someone's got to heve them among their favourites."
One of Michaela's poems, set to the Jaws theme in the show, is about sharks and all the different types, including some many people will not have heard of, such as the bonnethead and gummy shark.
She said: "I was amazed thar there were so many different types - I learnt so much writing that poem."
That, she said, was one of the important elements of the show - as well as the fun activities, such as getting children up on stage to shoot water pistols to see how far a Cobra can spit, there are also a lot of facts in there.
"When we did the first ones in February, I signed copies of my book afterwards and everyone seemed to like a different bit of the show, which was great.
"I also had a lot of mums, dads and grandparents coming up to me saying they had learnt a lot and there were plenty of things they didn't know."
Michaela had always wanted to write a children's book and in particular, because of the ones she had enjoyed reading to her son, a rhyming one.
The first poem she wrote was about elephant orphans in blankets about a conservation project she was involved in. She was originally going to have that as one book.
But then it was suggested she write a book of poems about a number of her animal encounters and, after flicking through photograph albums and watching videos of her previous shows for inspiration, she got to work.
"It took about a year to write in total and it was so enjoyable."
It was the poem about penguins which inspired Michaela's idea for a stage show.
"I felt that one would be good as a stage show, but then, when I stopped and thought about it, I thought they would all work well."
So, she approached director Malachi Bogdanov and it was put together ready for the tour.
When she was growing up, as well as her interest in animals, Michaela also loved dancing and wanted to be a ballet dancer.
"Then I realised I had flat feet, so I went into musical theatre and then presenting - which is a sort of performing.
"Looking back, I have been very fortunate with my career - there has been so much variety," she said.
Away from animals, Michaela has presented Great British Ghosts and has even had a song written about her by pop band Scouting For Girls, which contains the lines: "I turned on the telly, When I got home from school, You were there in your wellies, And a yellow Cagoule.....Michaela Strachan you broke my heart'.
She said: "I knew about it a long time before they were signed because a friend told me about it.
"I decided to e-mail the band to ask if I could hear it and I think they were mortified, but I told them I was flattered."
Michaela then went to see Scouting For Girls in Brighton.
"It was really weird being surrounded by a thousand people all singing a song about you."
But she said the strangest thing happened when a friend of hers who had been at the gig was travelling home on the train.
"A man and a woman were on the train talking about the gig when she asked him who Michaela Strachan was.
"He said: 'You know, the wildlife presenter with the blond hair, big smile and funny nose'.
"After having my ego stroked by all those people singing about me, I was brought straight down to earth with a bump."
Tickets for Really Wild Adventures at Artrix on April 2 are £12 and are available by calling 01527 577330 or by visiting www.artrix.co.uk
We have a pair of tickets to give away for the show. To enter, answer this question: Which animal did Michaela extract a tooth from? Send your answers to: Really Wild Adventures, The Standard, 44 High Street, Bromsgrove. B61 8HQ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for entries is Wednesday (March 28).
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