Next week a play that was both published and then produced in St Albans will premiere at the Royal Albert Hall.

It may be airing on the much smaller stage of the Elgar Room but those involved from Boxer Books and Irrational Theatre Company are, unsurprisingly, thrilled.

After two nights in London, Lily and Bear, which is based on the book written and illustrated by Lisa Stubbs, will come home to the Maltings Art Theatre in St Albans for two nights before heading back to London for a run at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

David Bennett, director of the children’s book publishers, explains how a simple picture book got off the ground in such a way.

“A couple of years ago a director of Irrational Theatre Company, Paula Chitty, asked if we had a good book that we could do and explained that our books are for the very, very young.

“We publish very few books but we publish, what I call, few but beautiful things.

“We had just commissioned Lily and Bear and by the time we finished the book it seemed a very appropriate book to put on stage.

“I have no experience whatsoever of the theatre. We looked at a number of local theatres and wondered how we would go about putting it on.”

David is a strong believer that if you don’t ask you don’t get. In 1994 a story on why Shakespeare wrote Macbeth came to him and he mused how wonderful it would be to have Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh write a forward in the published book, Shakespeare and Macbeth.

Of course his friends and colleagues scoffed at the thought, but after one phone call to his agent, Kenneth called him back and happily agreed.

The book was then launched at the Globe Theatre, marking the venue’s very first launch.

In the same vein, David and Paula contacted the Royal Albert Hall.

“They invited us to come and see them. They saw the book talked to us and they said ‘yes, absolutely’. That was a thrilling moment and incredibly scary.

“Now it is a small 45-minute show for children between two and six. It’s very lovely with great music.

“It’s a small, passionate local affair, but it has a big heart to it.”

Lily and Bear tells a truly magical tale about the give and take of friendship. Lily likes nothing better than to imagine and draw the things she loves.

She draws cats and birds, boats and houses, and one day she draws a bear who comes to life. Lily and Bear play pirates, sing, and partake in all manner of bear activities, discovering the joys of sharing along the way.

The theatre adaptation comes with songs and music by Kill Priest and arranged by David Forbes, animation by Matt Sandbrook and even puppets.

Lily and Bear was originally inspired by the author’s family life. It began when Lisa’s daughter, Skyla, drew a picture of lots of little, coloured hearts and said: “This is the colour of my love for you, Mummy.”

Lisa created a screen print based on this drawing, she wanted to explore her children’s’ pictures and their child-like way of looking at the world.

Maltings Arts Theatre, 2 The Maltings, St Albans, AL1 3HL, Wednesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 16, 2pm and 4pm. Details: 0333 666 3366