The Sound of Music UK Tour

The Sound of Music UK tour is in Wimbledon at the moment. H and I caught the Wednesday matinee performance this week, and loved it. Read on to find out more!

the sound of music uk tour

The Sound of Music UK tour is calling at various venues around the UK at the moment, and is currently at the New Wimbledon Theatre. I’ve grown up loving the film and the play, both of which have their differences. I’ve seen the film more times than I could even estimate, and have seen several stage productions too. Most productions seem to try to recreate the film on stage – understandable as it’s such a lovely film, but they’re missing a trick as the original stage play makes the film much easier to understand. In addition to this, the play has many funny moments which don’t feature in the film at all.

Fortunately the Sound of Music UK tour version is the play – with just one minor change, subsituting ‘An Ordinary Couple’ for ‘Something Good’ (which was written especially for the film).

the sound of music uk tour 2

Danielle Hope plays Maria, and was marvellous. A lot of her pronunciation and the way she sings brings memories of Julie Andrews in the same role, a comparison which is hard to avoid when she’s wearing a short blonde wig. We didn’t have Steven Houghton as the Captain, but his understudy Lynden Edwards was great. I was looking forward to seeing Houghton as I’d seen him seven years ago in Blood Brothers, so that was a bit disappointing. The children were all marvellous and all their voices worked well together. Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess was wonderful too – ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ was powerful and moving (I may have shed a tear or two).

The play itself brings back in the old numbers ‘No Way to Stop It’ and ‘How Can Love Survive’ both songs featuring a singing Baroness Schraeder and Uncle Max, giving them a bit more depth of character than the film did – and with the former song giving the situation in Austria (the Anschluss) a perspective – Elsa and Max believe you can’t stop what’s going to happen, and try to convince the Captain he should pretend to be on-side with the Nazis. This is what leads to the Captain and Elsa breaking up. The latter song is sung again by all three, celebrating their individual wealth and trying to work out how they’ll actually exist together when they’ve both got everything they individually need!

Let’s not forget young Rolf – a different character to the one in the film; the silence in the theatre at the end scene in the Abbey as the Von Trapps escape shows how convincing he was; his love for Liesl and his warnings for them to leave Austria are given a satisfying ending.

the sound of music uk tour h

This was H’s first proper musical on stage, and she loved it. Her favourite character was Gretl, probably as she’s five too – she’s already being like her mummy… ! She managed well with it, the first half of the play is approximately an hour and a half, with a 20 minute interval and a 55 minute second half – so it’s quite long but there are plenty of songs which break up the dialogue when you’re five and just want to hear the music.

Everywhere is celebrating the film being 50, but I would highly recommend seeing the Sound of Music UK Tour while you can – the production is going all over the UK at the moment and just this weekend Wimbledon are offering half price tickets. We’d already bought our tickets, but they’re also doing a ‘Children go Half Price’ deal too (subject to availability, terms and conditions apply).

My biggest criticism. No merchandise! I’d have loved to have a book to accompany it, or even just pictures in the programme. I came away having spent £3 and hoping to spend more. I’d even buy a soundtrack were one to exist – mainly as my only version of ‘No Way to Stop It’ is the original Broadway Mary Martin version!

the sound of music uk tour - poster

The Sound of Music UK Tour has a Tumblr page here

Bill Kenwright’s site is over here with dates and information – plus a gallery where you get a good idea of the gorgeous sets on stage.

I’m already thinking about going again… sigh!

There’s an awesome timelapse video over here of them setting up the stage at Wimbledon

and a fabulous extended trailer here which gives you an idea of how fab Danielle Hope is too

Our next visit to Wimbledon will be for the touring production of Annie in November – H is just as excited about that! (as am I, it’s been over thirty years since I’ve seen it on stage!!)

Aladdin at the Secombe Theatre, Sutton

I love panto season, and for a long time now I’ve been desperate to take H to one. She has been to productions at school, but I fear those are watered down versions suitable for younger audiences – all fine, but we need proper pantomimes in our lives! Polka Dot Pantomimes have brought their production of Aladdin to the Secombe Theatre in Sutton, and today we went to see it.

Aladdin at the Secombe Theatre

Aladdin is a good safe pantomime to produce. The story works well and the more audience participation you can work into it the better. H had been excited all week, wondering how the genie would get out of the lamp – and it didn’t disappoint.

We made our way to the Secombe Theatre, our biggest local theatre in the Borough of Sutton, which has been under threat of closure (as has the Charles Cryer Theatre in Carshalton) – and what struck me was how the theatre *should* have had more people in there – where are people going? Why aren’t people making the trip? Especially when it’s an excellent production at a really reasonable price. Don’t get me wrong, the theatre wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t full either.

Aladdin was loads of fun. I’m a fairly harsh critic when it comes to pantomimes – being from York I spent almost every December in my childhood (and teenage, and later years) going to the York Panto – a long-term production by Berwick Kaler. You need a good dame and villain, slapstick, lots of audience participation, the old catchphrases and of course topically re-worded songs from current pop hits even indie snobs like me will have heard of as well as the obligatory singsong at the end. Aladdin had all these – and the cast did a marvellous job! Berwick Kaler has been on the BBC this week talking about the hard work behind a panto dame, and I’d agree – they carry the show.

Aladdin Secombe

H didn’t take long to warm up, once she got her head around shouting at the stage a lot (or booing) she was in her element. Behind us was Rosie and Boo who were having a brilliant time as well. Big brownie points go to Aladdin and Princess Jasmine singing ‘Love is an Open Door’ from Frozen, which H was beaming through – no lyric changes needed. In the second half the flying carpet sequence was nice and simple but had her captivated.

The baddie was a GREAT baddie – he played the part perfectly. There was the obligatory water fight (water pistols squirting us, the audience – hilarious!), plenty of ‘IT’S BEHIND YOU!’s and just everything that makes a proper old school panto feel right. Oh and of course, asking the audience for their opinion and having several under tens tell you exactly what you should do, just for the cast to completely ignore it and do the opposite (well, it wouldn’t be a panto if you didn’t)!

aladdin magic wand

The humour worked on both levels – not too confusing for the kids, plenty of gags about Sutton, Cheam and Morden, and plenty of laughs for five year olds too. Merch-wise, programmes were £2.50 and the sparkly light options were £4 each – not too bad at all, and H loves hers!

Widow Twankey was excellent – as were Wishy Washy and the Genie. In fact, everyone was great. I have no complaints, and found it was a fine production. The final word goes to H though – “it was AMAZING!!”

I just hope the Secombe Theatre stays open so that productions like this can continue for future generations to enjoy.

Polka Dot Pantomimes have many productions up and down the country – check them out!

We were provided with free tickets for this performance. All opinions are my own. OH yes they are.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too at the Polka Theatre

We’ve just got back from Grandad, Me and Teddy Too at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon, a lovely new play by Sarah Argent, targeted at 2-5 year olds.

grandad me and teddy too

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too is a wonderful charming play – and is all about the distance a child, Mia, has from her Grandad, and how they connect, both in person and online.

This appealed to me, as H’s grandparents are in York and Australia – we have nobody close by. The internet is our main means of communication to stay in touch; we have regular chats over Skype and Facetime with Shaun’s mum and dad, whereas I tend to talk to my mum over the phone.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too has just the two characters with a nice simple set on stage, and plenty of dialogue to capture a child’s imagination. Katherine Carlton plays Mia – a girl of approximately four, five or six years old, and Gordon Warnecke plays Grandad.

I liked that Mia had the exact facial expressions that H often pulls – I was giggling away at some of them – it’s an adult observing a child and doing it well. Mia speaks to Grandad every night on the computer, counting down the sleeps until he’ll be visiting her. Grandad lives in Argentina, so he has a bit of a way to travel.

Once he arrives he joins in Mia’s games, but often doesn’t quite play them as she would like, making her a bit cross. Again, I have seen those facial expressions myself, I’d say very accurate! They go for a ride on a magic carpet to the South Pole as well! Unfortunately he can’t stay and soon has to go back home again.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too is at the Polka Theatre in the smaller Adventure Theatre (capacity 30-50 people), lasts for approximately 40 minutes and runs from the 8th October 2014 until 8th February 2015. This means you have seats around the edge for adults, and children are encouraged to sit on their own in front of the stage.

grandad me and teddy too Frozen ticket

As well as this, children are encouraged to bring a teddy or toy along with them – if you happen to take a picture of your teddy or toy on the way to or from the Polka Theatre, make sure it has the hashtag #BYOBear and that the Polka Theatre are tagged on Twitter (@polkatheatre) or Facebook (/polkatheatre), and each week their favourite photo will win a prize!

We were charmed by Grandad, Me and Teddy Too – and I felt sad we’re so far away from all our relatives. We’re lucky these days computers make it so easy to stay in touch. H loved the play, and when I asked her about her favourite part, she loved the section with the balloons. I would highly recommend going to see this, especially if you have long-distance relatives. It was a really lovely show which resonated with me in so many ways.

We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of review – all opinions are our own.

Moominsummer Madness at the Polka Theatre

The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon has a wide variety of children’s shows. Moominsummer Madness is on right now, and we got a chance to see it yesterday.

Moominsummer Madness Moominsummer Madness is a play featuring of course The Moomins, based on the book of the same name by Tove Jansson.

Moominvalley is flooded, and the Moomins (Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Snork Maiden and Moomintroll and Little My) escape their flooded house after carefully retrieving their breakfast. They find a floating home which happens to be a theatre. They meet Emma who is in charge – after a few strange happenings. The Moomins are split up and try to make their way back to each other; the story ends with Moominpappa’s play ‘The Lion’s Bride’ being performed and the family are reunited. Misabel and Snufkin also make an appearance as well as a Hemulen Policeman who H got a photo with – the sign says ‘No Smiling’ (a bit blurry I’m afraid – but check out her fab t-shirt!)

Moominsummer Madness no smiling

I found the production wonderful – the four actors/puppeteers who controlled the Moomins did a brilliant job – and the Moomin puppets were amazing. There was a wonderful score with musical instruments accompanying it on stage, with a simple yet stunning set which complemented the story well. It was magical – everything complemented the feel of the Moomins. Truly, if you want an afternoon at the theatre and to come out smiling (and probably singing the songs in your head), choose Moominsummer Madness.

The Polka Theatre have a trailer which shows the wonderful puppets as well as some information about the show and how it was put together.

Moominsummer Madness runs from the 11th June to the 16th August in the Main Theatre and ties in with the Tove 100 celebrations, celebrating the art and life of Moomins creator Tove Jansson.

If you book your Moominsummer Madness tickets in June, the Polka Theatre have a draw to win Moomins goodies.

The running time is approximately 1 hour 35 minutes, and the recommended age is 4-8 years.

We were given tickets to watch Moominsummer Madness and a complimentary programme. All opinions are our own.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure

Top-selling children’s stage show producers Fiery Light today announce a brand new full-length theatre adventure for children, Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure. Based on the popular CBeebies’ TV show, Octonauts, this exciting new production opens at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, on Thursday 16 October and tours into 2015.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure

In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

Richard Lewis adapts and directs this new production for the stage. He also adapted and directed the hugely popular three Peppa Pig stage shows and last year’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom tour. Matt Lewis is lyricist, Simon Scullion is designer, Matt Haskins is lighting designer and Ian Horrocks Taylor is sound designer.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure is produced by live children’s show supremos Fiery Light (joint venture by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions), the team also behind the recent tours of the three successful Peppa Pig stage shows. Their most recent – Peppa Pig’s Big Splash – is currently on tour. It has broken box office records for a pre-school show and will return to the West End for fifth consecutive Christmas season at the Criterion Theatre this year. Other Fiery Light productions include the recent tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, LazyTown Live! and Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interactive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’

LISTINGS INFORMATION
Booking fees may apply. Please check with venue
www.octonautslive.co.uk

Age recommendation: 3 +

THURS 16 – SUN 19 OCTOBER ORCHARD THEATRE, DARTFORD
Thurs 16 at 4 pm www.orchardtheatre.co.uk
Fri 17 at 1 & 4 pm
Sat 18 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm
Sun 19 at 10 & 1 pm

TUES 21 – WED 22 OCTOBER PRINCES HALL, ALDERSHOT
Tues 21 & Wed 22 at 1 & 4 pm www.princeshall.com

SAT 25 – SUN 26 OCTOBER WYCOMBE SWAN, HIGH WYCOMBE
Sat 25 & Sun 26 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.wycombeswan.co.uk

WED 29 – THURS 30 OCTOBER FAIRFIELD HALLS, CROYDON
Wed 29 & Thurs 30 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.fairfield.co.uk

SAT 1 – SUN 2 NOVEMBER NEW THEATRE, CARDIFF
Sat 1 & Sun 2 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

WED 5 – THURS 6 NOVEMBER G LIVE, GUILDFORD
Wed 5 & Thurs 6 at 1 & 4 pm www.glive.co.uk

SAT 8 – SUN 9 NOVEMBER ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM
Sat 8 & Sun 9 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

WED 12 – THURS 13 NOVEMBER GRAND OPERA HOUSE, YORK
Wed 12 & Thurs 13 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

SAT 15 – SUN 16 NOVEMBER CORN EXCHANGE, CAMBRIDGE
Sat 15 at 4 pm www.cornex.co.uk
Sun 16 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm

WED 19 – THURS 20 NOVEMBER ST GEORGE’S HALL, BRADFORD
Wed 19 & Thurs 20 at 1 & 4 pm www.bradfordtheatres.co.uk

SAT 22 – SUN 23 NOVEMBER GROVE THEATRE, DUNSTABLE
Sat 22 at 1 & 4 pm www.grovetheatre.co.uk
Sun 22 at 10 am & 1 pm

Further tour dates to be announced

Up and Down the Stage Play – a new Theatre Experience

The Ga Ga Theatre Company are a new company who have adapted one of Oliver Jeffers books into a show for children. Yesterday we headed to Clapham Picturehouse to see Up and Down the Stage Play – and had a lovely time!

Up and Down the Stage Play

‘Up and Down’ is one of H’s favourite books and the sequel to ‘Lost and Found’. It’s fun to read and a fine story about the value of friendship – the penguin wants to fly, finds a way, loses the boy, realises penguins aren’t meant to fly and realises that he’s happiest with the boy anyway.

So how do you make this into a great stage show?

Keep it simple – lots of plain dialogue – “up”, “down” and occasional questions – a parachute over the audience that the adult help move as the boy and the penguin play while staying faithful to the book. Both actors were excellent, great facial expressions and straight away you knew it was the boy and the penguin, I didn’t feel like it took time to get used to it.

There are just the two actors and a simple musical score. Questions such as “Have you seen the penguin?” encourage the children to join in and point or shout which way they saw it go. There’s lots of waving and including the children in the show which had H overcoming any shyness she might have initially had. I liked the attention to detail – things in the book which are seen in passing feature, and of course there’s a game of backgammon in there!

‘Up and Down’ has a really simple set – boxes which have various props or convert into the boy’s plane, and in the background the artwork from the book projected onto the screen.

Up and Down the Stage Play

‘Up and Down’ the stage play lasted about 40 minutes without an interval, and mixing live theatre with projections and original music worked really well. It’s suitable for babies and children up to the age of seven. Under 2’s go free.

‘Up and Down’ is showing right now at the various Picturehouse venues around London until early November. The Ga Ga Theatre Company are planning to do more shows like this, so keep an eye on their Facebook and Twitter pages – they have a Pinterest board too which I hope are ideas for future shows!

Up and Down the Stage Play

We were given tickets to review the show, all opinions are our own. Apologies for the quality of the photos, I didn’t want to take many so we could sit back and enjoy it! 

Room on the Broom live on Stage

L-R-Sam-Donovan-Bird_Dragon-David-Garrud-Dog_Frog-Morag-Cross-Witch-Emma-MacLennan-Cat-in-Room-On-The-Broom-Lyric-Theatre-Shaftesbury-Avenue-Photo-Patrick-Baldwin
Room on the Broom is in the West End for Christmas – and shares a theatre with Thriller! We got a bit confused at first, but it also explains the early show – which, by the way was utterly delightful and really good fun.

You’re probably already familiar with the Julia Donaldson book, and if you’re like me you’ll be wondering how it transfers onto the stage.  It had the most original start of all the plays we’ve seen this year – all four main characters came out about ten minutes before it was due to start and played hide and seek around the chairs, running around, chatting to kids in the audience and making it all quite fun. I was charmed!!

They all eventually made it back onto the stage, their story continues a little longer (complete with comedy snoring – always guaranteed to make three year olds and upwards giggle) until one of them says “Hey, what’s that in the sky up there?” and the Room on the Broom story as we know it starts.

L-R-David-Garrud-Dog_Frog-Emma-MacLennan-Cat-Sam-Donovan-Bird_Dragon-and-Morag-Cross-Witch-in-Room-On-The-Broom-Lyric-Theatre-Shaftesbury-Avenue-Photo-Patrick-Baldwin

There’s just four actors on stage – all of them have main roles and swap when the puppets are concerned. The Witch and the Cat are the actors in costume, one thing I noticed was even when the story was on another actor they still retained their characters – the cat doing cat-like things. The dog, frog and bird were all puppets – all hand operated by the actors brilliantly. If one actor wasn’t looking after a puppet they became a narrator, reading out sections from the book that you’ll recognise – ohh and the ‘whoooosh!’ bit was pretty good too!

The dragon was brilliant, very welsh and funny. The witch quoted two lines of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which us oldies sniggered about – and best of all, H loved it – her favourite bit was the dragon.

There was a little bit of audience participation, and I could see H joining in – singing and shouting when prompted.

The production lasted 55 minutes, possibly slightly longer with the hide and seek bit at the start and it flew by. I’ve got the song about the spell STILL stuck in my head  (“Ziggety zaggety zoggety zoom, we’ve got a most magnificent broom”), I wish I’d bought the album with all the songs which was on sale at a very reasonable £8. The merch stand was really well priced too – we got a Room on the Broom witch on a stand, and a programme – costing £6 in total.

All in all, it was a brilliant morning, a really lovely set and really well done – full credit to the actors for being so brilliant and funny.

If you’re thinking about going to see Room on the Broom, don’t delay! It’s on in the West End through Christmas until the 13th January, with most performances at 11am, plus a couple of 1pm ones – check this link for more details. It’s suitable for age 3 and up – though our performance did have some younger kids in there.

Watch the trailer here –

Room on the Broom Live

Tall Stories

We received our tickets for ‘Room on the Broom’ for free, all opinions are our own!

Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt at the Criterion Theatre

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt LogoWe saw Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt back in April when it got to Croydon at Fairfield Halls on the UK tour – and it was a hugely enjoyable afternoon (complete with several merch stands so it was unavoidable – not too pricey though thank goodness!) – a really nice simple plot with plenty of songs and fun. Actually, I didn’t realise just how much the songs had stayed in my head until we saw Ben & Holly Live recently and I recognised them being played beforehand…

Well after a long tour of the country, Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt is heading to the West End for its third West End Christmas Season to the Criterion Theatre from the 6th December 2012 until 6th January 2013.

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt livePeppa Pig’s second live stage production proved to be a huge success on its travels the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland in 2011 – 2012, with sell-out performances wherever it went.

The Peppa Pig stage-show has a very successful track record at the Criterion Theatre, where for the past two Christmas seasons Peppa Pig has played to packed houses (2010 and 2011), breaking all the theatre’s previous advance box office records. Her first stage tour, Peppa Pig’s Party, was also one of the top-selling children’s theatre shows in 2010 and 2011.

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt liveIn Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt, Peppa Pig and her friends set off on a new adventure, a treasure hunt. Peppa, her brother George and friend Danny Dog get up to fun and games on a day out on Granddad Dog’s boat. There are clues aplenty as Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra help them find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt features true-to-life puppets, sing-along songs and a story that will charm and delight all her fans.

The cast is Nick Errington, Kerry Gooderson, Chris Hughes, Charlotte King, Kimberley Penna, David Sandham and Charlotte Sullivan. The composer is Mani Svavarsson, the designer is Simon Scullion, lighting is by Matt Haskins and sound by Ian Horrocks Taylor.

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt livePEPPA PIG’S TREASURE HUNT – CRITERION THEATRE LISTINGS
THURSDAY 6 DECEMBER 2012 – SUNDAY 6 JANUARY 2013

Criterion Theatre, 218 – 223 Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, LONDON SW1
Box Office: 0844 847 1778

Thurs 6 – Sun 9 December
Thurs 6 & Fri 7 at 11 am & 2.30 pm
Sat 8 at 11 am
Sun 9 at 12 noon & 3 pm

Mon 10 – Sun 16 December
No performances on Monday 10 & Wed 12
Tues 11, Thurs 13 & Fri 14 at 11 am & 2.30 pm
Sat 15 at 11 am
Sun 16 at 12 noon & 3 pm continued/
Mon 17 – Sun 23 December
No performances on Mon 17 & Wed 19
Tues 18, Thurs 20 & Fri 21 at 11 am & 2.30 pm
Sat 22 at 11 am
Sun 23 at 12 noon & 3 pm

Mon 24 – Sun 30 December
Mon 24 at 11 am
No performances on Tues 25 & Wed 26
Thurs 27 & Fri 28 at 11 am & 2.30 pm
Sat 29 at 11 am
Sun 30 at 12 noon & 3 pm

Mon 31 December – Sun 6 January
Mon 31 at 11 am & 2.30 pm
Tues 1, Thurs 3 & Fri 4 at 11 am & 2.30 pm
No performance on Wed 2
Sat 5 at 11 am
Sun 6 at 12 noon & 3 pm

Ben and Holly Live – a Review

BH_Logo_20x15-300x225Okay, 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.

Ben & Holly Live
Ben & Holly Live – photo taken from Official Ben & Holly page

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.

Ben & Holly Live Merch Stand

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.

Ben & Holly Live
Ben & Holly Live feature with dates

We Love Books – Room on the Broom – coming to the West End soon!

Julia Donaldson is one of those authors you’re pretty much guaranteed to have in your book collection, or to have read a book of – aside from The Gruffalo there’s a bazillion other books out there – a good chunk of which we own.

Room on the Broom is one we’ve bought recently – a story of a witch on her broom who keeps losing things due to the wind – as she picks up friends (a daft dog, a beautiful bird and a friendly frog) along the way – ‘is there room on the broom for me?’ they ask. Eventually the broom breaks, the witch ends up in a scary incident, but of course as it is with all books targeted at this age, there’s a happy ending thanks to her new friends. An added bonus, it’s also illustrated by Axel Scheffler who needs no introduction should you be familiar with Donaldson’s work – he illustrated The Gruffalo (and many more).

The best thing of all is how the rhymes flow – H has been reading this at nursery for a couple of months now (in fact just after we’d bought it), and joins in when we read – there’s plenty of scope for reading and letting your little one finish the sentence or indeed letting them read it to you – the rhyming is simple and tells the story perfectly.

Room on the Broom was first released back in 2002 – so it’s ten years old now! There’s all kinds of great things out there – how about a reading of it by Sanjeev Bhaskar over on Jackanory Junior? I found some educational resources for downloading over here – flashcards, sequence cards and matching cards to download and print. However, the most exciting thing for us is that it’s coming to the stage! (actually, I say coming, it’s been around a while now, it’s just new to us – and will be in the West End from the 21st November 2012 until the 13th January 2013).

Room on the Broom LiveThe company behind it are Tall Stories – and it’s a magical musical adaptation! Tall Stories’ also brought The Gruffalo to the stage, so its going to be a good ‘un.

Room on the Broom is aimed at ages 3-8 and is a great introduction to theatre for kids and their families – expect puppetry, sing-a-long songs and plenty of fun for everyone.

Room on the Broom LiveRoom on the Broom is presented by Kenny Wax and Nick Brooke, in association with Tall Stories. Directed by Olivia Jacobs, alongside Toby Mitchell as Creative Producer (both founders of Tall Stories), Room On The Broom has lighting design by James Whiteside, design by Morgan Large, puppet design by Yvonne Stone and sound & music design by Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw of Shock Productions.

The cast is as follows: Witch: Morag Cross, Cat: Emma MacLennan, Dog/Frog: David Garrud, Bird/Dragon: Sam Donovan, Understudy: Owen Guerin.

Room on the Broom Live

LISTINGS INFORMATION –  ROOM ON THE BROOM – LIVE ON STAGE!

Dates: 21 November 2012 – 13 January 2013
Address: Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES

Box Office: 0844 412 4661

Website: www.nimaxtheatres.com  www.roomonthebroomlive.co.uk
Ticket prices: £12.50 – £15.50 (plus 50p restoration levy)
Family ticket top price only: £58 (excludes premium and level 3 prices)
Premium seats £20 (includes free postergramme)
School and group bookings of 10+: £9.50 (includes 50p restoration levy) buy 10 tickets get the 11th ticket free.
For Schools & Group bookings call 020 7494 5837

Performances:

Wednesday 21 November 2012 11am
Thursday 22 November 2012 11am
Friday 23 November 2012 11am
Saturday 24 November 2012 10am & 12pm
Sunday 25 November 2012 10am & 12pm
Wednesday 28 November 2012 11am
Thursday 29 November 2012 11am
Friday 30 November 2012 11am
Saturday 01 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Sunday 02 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Tuesday 04 December 2012 11am
Wednesday 05 December 2012 11am
Thursday 06 December 2012 11am
Friday 07 December 2012 11am
Saturday 08 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Sunday 09 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Tuesday 11 December 2012 11am
Wednesday 12 December 2012 11am
Thursday 13 December 2012 11am
Friday 14 December 2012 11am
Saturday 15 December 2012 10am  & 12pm
Sunday 16 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Tuesday 18 December 2012 11am and 2pm
Wednesday 19 December 2012 11am and 2pm
Thursday 20 December 2012 10am and 12pm
Saturday 22 December 2012 10am & 12pn
Sunday 23 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Monday 24 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Thursday 27 December 2012 11am & 2pm
Friday 28 December 2012 10am and 12pm
Saturday 29 December 2012 10am and 12pm
Sunday 30 December 2012 10am and 12pm
Monday 31 December 2012 10am & 12pm
Tuesday 01 January 2013 Day off
Wednesday 02 January 2013 11am & 2pm
Thursday 03 January 2013 11am & 2pm
Friday 04 January 2013 11am
Saturday 05 January 2013 10am & 12pm
Sunday 06 January 2013 10am & 12pm
Thursday 10 January 2013 11am
Friday 11 January 2013 11am
Saturday 12 January 2013 10am  & 12pm
Sunday 13 January 2013 10am & 12pm