Okay, I should clarify firstly we paid for tickets. I have no reason to state this, other than my review is a confused one – but it’s my thoughts, and when it comes to the age group targeted, H loved it – and it’s the first time I’ve really seen her join in with a stage show – as she’s usually more reserved. H and her friend J were both upset when it finished, which has a lot more ground than my opinion! We’re big Ben & Holly fans in our house too (in case you hadn’t guessed).
So, I’m confused. It was only on the day of the performance I realised that the Ben & Holly cast would in fact be grown adults dressed as Ben and Holly & co (which did work for ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’) – so wasn’t sure what to think, but went into it with as open a mind as possible. Bearing in mind Peppa Pig worked perfectly for us (and that’s with puppets), yet with B&H you’ve magic which isn’t as easy to create with humans, I wondered why they’d decided to do it this way.
One MAJOR complaint – I had a tickly cough – nothing too bad but tickly. Every time there was any magic you’d get smoke into the audience and it set off my cough every time – so be aware of that – it was quite intense! We were quite near the front – about five rows – so take a good hanky to cover your nose and mouth if you’re planning on sitting close to the stage.
The story was excerpts of episodes you’ve probably seen, put together well with some songs to help the story along, plenty of interactivity too. Ben & Holly has never been about the songs though, which made it feel a bit odd (unlike, say, Peppa Pig or Dora the Explorer) – though there were plenty of chances to sing, especially in the second half – I had the ‘Happy Song’ stuck in my head for a good hour or so afterwards (which is a sign of a good song in my book) – and H was pleased she got to sing Happy Birthday to King Thistle.
I wish there’d been more of the Wise Old Elf and Nanny Plum together – I like how they interact on the show, it amuses me. Also, while the actress who played Nanny Plum was good, she just didn’t have that fabulously mildly sarcastic tone that Sarah Ann Kennedy does – but H didn’t notice or care.
The merch stand wasn’t too expensive – there are lots of goodies and a light up windmill like at Peppa Pig live – we bought a Gaston toy which came in at £11 which was pricey, but H loves it. There were t-shirts for £12 and they take cards if you spend over £10. Programmes were £5. At the end they had the helium balloons like at Peppa Pig, although there was less of a reason to get them (as at least with Peppa the balloons were the treasure) – so we skipped on those – though if they’re as good a quality as the Peppa ones, they’ll last for several weeks after the show.
So, the plot. You have a few of the episodes combined into one story – I kind of wish one story could have been expanded on rather than three, plus the addition of Lucy (from Tooth Fairy) seemed to have minimal purpose. BUT! H liked her being there.
I think what they’ve done is interesting – and if a new story is done next year we’ll be there again – and I’m trying so hard not to be picky as I did enjoy it, there were just things I spotted that I wish could be fixed.
Really, what I hope next year is they take the Peppa format and do actors in black on stage with puppets. I think then it’d be practically perfect. In H’s eyes it was pretty fabulous anyway.