Tag Archives: Salford Quays

Review: Mr Popper’s Penguins

Last weekend we took the small boy to see Mr Popper’s Penguins at The Lowry in Salford Quays for a Christmas treat. The theatre production is based on the novel by Richard and Florence Atwater, and has been adapted for the stage by Pins and Needles Productions.

Mr Popper’s Penguins follows the story of Mr Popper, a painter and decorator by day. He dreams of Antarctic adventures and lives with his wife, living a normal, everyday, average life. One day he is astonished when a packing crate arrives on his doorstep, out of which waddles a penguin who he names Captain Cook. Alas Captain Cook is lonely and he is sent a mate to cheer him up – Greta the penguin from London Zoo. Soon the inevitable happens and Mr Popper’s house is filled with baby penguins; Popper and his wife, struggling to keep up with their demands for fish hatch a plan to get the penguins to help pay their way – by performing on stage!

Mr Popper's Penguins

Picture credit: Helen Murray

This musical adaptation of Mr Popper’s Penguins is packed full of original songs and puppetry which bring life to this remarkable family of performing penguins. I was absolutely captivated by the show, and the small boy was giggling away at the antics of the penguins. Mr Popper’s Penguins was lively and engaging, lots and lots of fun and the show just flew by. 

Using penguin puppets and a remarkably adaptable set, the cast of Mr Popper’s Penguins bring the story to life, giving each penguin a unique personality, to the point when collectively our hearts broken for the lonesome penguin Captain Cook.

The songs throughout were really catchy and fun, and had the boy wiggling and jiggling in his seat along with the music. There wasn’t much audience participation throughout (this isn’t a panto), but the penguin dance routine at the end which the audience are invited to join in with is marvellous. The small boy insisted we waddle our way home afterwards and is still busting penguin moves days later!

The show is suitable for children aged 3+ and is about 55 minutes long. The small boy, who is 5 gave this a very big thumbs up!

Mr Popper’s Penguins is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays from Thursday 10th December 2015 to Sunday 10th January 2016. 

Mr Popper's Penguins

Preview: Mr Popper’s Penguins

I love taking the small boy to the theatre, there’s something magical about watching him watch a live performance, seeing him fall into the story and immerse himself in the show. It’s something of a family tradition to go and see a show at Christmas. I think he’s a bit young (he’s 5) to understand the nuances of panto, but this year Mr Popper’s Penguins is on at The Lowry, so we plumped to book tickets for that.

Mr Popper's Penguins

Mr Popper’s Penguins is based on the popular book by Richard and Florence Atwater and of course the Jim Carrey film. The story follows Mr Popper, a painter and decorator by day, he dreams of Antarctic adventures. One day he is astonished when a packing crate arrives on his doorstep, out of which waddles a penguin!

This musical adaptation of Mr Popper’s Penguins is packed full of original songs and puppetry which bring life to a remarkable family of performing penguins. The performance is suitable for children aged 3+ and is 55 minutes long – ideal for small children and their short attention spans.

You can watch the “behind the scenes” video below…

Mr Popper’s Penguins is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays from Thursday 10th December 2015 to Sunday 10th January 2016. 

We’ll be going, so watch this space for our review!

Theatre Review: Stick Man

Half term is once again upon us and I find myself scrabbling round for things to occupy the boy. Taking him to the theatre is always a bit of a treat, he loves The Lowry at Salford Quays,  apart from the actual productions we see, there’s lots to see and do around abouts. This half term The Lowry are entertaining kids with a stage production of the Julia Donaldson favourite, Stick Man.

Stick Man

Stick Man (currently on a UK tour) is suitable for children aged 3+. The Scamp Theatre production lasts for around an hour and there’s plenty to keep the little ones entertained. The show is filled with music, song and a spot of beach ball audience participation.

The Julia Donaldson story is a favourite of ours and I did worry a little about how they were going to make a stick lifelike and entertaining. In the event one actor portrayed Stick Man and also held a Stick Man stick, it worked and we were invested in the trials and tribulations of our stick hero!

The cast of three actors are lively and engaging, one actor plays Stick Man, a sprightly actress plays his “Stick Lady love” as well as a host of other characters such as the dog, and the last actor also plays a range of other characters and (and this is the interesting bit) he had a little musical station covered in instruments including drums, bells, a ukulele and a saxophone which he plays to help tell the story.

There was lots of lively audience engagement, a few cheeky laughs and the children all seemed really interested and engaged. The small boy liked the dog taking the stick the best, but was also transfixed with the array of instruments that were being played. It was a lovely way to spend a bit of half term time, especially as we went for a little walk afterwards and had another look around the Blue Peter Garden.

Stick Man is well worth a visit, even Julia Donaldson says so!

Review: Room on the Broom at The Lowry

We’re on half term this week and next and it can be quite difficult to find things to do to entertain a small lively child. Thankfully I had the foresight to get some tickets for us and a couple of his school friends to see Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson at The Lowry in Salford Quays.

Julia Donaldson is a real legend and a fantastic author, her stories are great to read out loud so it’s no surprise that they work so well on stage. Her most famous book, The Gruffalo is brilliant and we went to see the theatre adaptation last year, it was a Tall Stories’ production and we were all transfixed from start to finish.

Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom is a lovely story of a good witch and her cat who whilst off on an adventure lose a hat and gain a dog, lose a bow and gain a bird and lose a wand and gain a frog. The witches broom is soon overloaded and snaps, leading to a dangerous encounter with a dragon and with a decent bit of teamwork and a sprinkling of magic the dragon is sent packing and a new, luxurious broom appears.

It was a wonderful, colourful story brought to life incredibly well by the four talented actors, with some lovely puppetry, funny voices and some great songs which we had in our heads all the way home. There was a genuinely funny moment when one of the actors used the wrong funny voice and all the actors corpsed and the audience fell about laughing, but they recovered well and earned a deserved round of applause.

The show lasts a little under an hour and is suitable for children aged three and above, my four year old and his friends loved it, especially the animals. There’s some nice audience interaction, great songs and enough little snippets of fun to keep the grown ups happy (quoting sections of Bohemian Rhapsody etc). It’s fun, it’s lively and it’s a lovely thing to do over half term.

It’s a great show and well worth catching if you get the chance. It’s on at The Lowry in Salford Quays until Sunday 12th April. More dates in other theatres are on the Tall Stories’ website.

Note: We were given complimentary tickets to see Room on the Broom at The Lowry for review purposes. All opinions are our own.

Half Term on the High Seas at IWM North

To my shame I’ve never visited the Imperial War Museum North. I remember it being built and everyone who has been has always had really good things to say about it but I’ve never made the trip. Now the Metrolink is nearby I have absolutely no excuse not to visit. We were invited to a preview of the War at Sea family activity week which will be running over the February half term. Between 14th and 22nd February family visitors can take part in a week of free activities to discover what life was like on the high seas. From submarines to sea mines, families can explore the past 100 years at sea through storytelling, craft activities and objects on display. Sounds good, so we thought we’d check it out.

We are lucky enough to have our very own salty sea-dog in our family, a Submariner from the Australian Navy and we thought he’d enjoy a trip out too. We arrived at Salford Quays and were mightily impressed with the tank outside, this was only a small taster of what we would see inside.

IWM North

We were taken to the main exhibition space and in a cosy corner we talked about the adventures of Able Seaman Wally Tobin in A Sailor’s Story interactive storytelling session. This was a lovely moment with all the children sat listening to the story and joining in when they could. It was a nice introduction to life on the ocean wave for the children and the small boy was gripped, though loathe to join in. After the storytelling we went back downstairs to the learning studio to make our very own message in a bottle.

The learning studio is a great place for kids, with things to look at and read, as well as comfy sofas, toys and a brilliant dressing up box. We played in here for a little while before moving back to the main exhibition space to have a proper look around.

IWM North was apparently designed to make you feel a bit disorientated and confused, much the way war would make you feel. The floor in the main exhibition space slopes by two metres, it’s dark and there are films and images projected against the large white walls. It is disorientating and I felt a bit wonky for a few hours after we left.

IWM North

The exhibition space is full of interesting artefacts and stories, from modern day conflicts right back to WW1. On the whole the collection is interesting, varied, fascinating, with lots of activities for children to get involved in along the way. I think we viewed it on two levels, for me I was incredibly moved by the steel from the World Trade Center and small trinkets of everyday life people had on the during the wars, items of clothing, precious things they made themselves in prisoner of war camps, that kind of thing. My son who is four loved the vehicles, the Harrier Jump Jet (how did they get it in there?), the small fire engine, the tanks and cars. He like the activities, smelling the less than lovely odours from the WW1 trenches. But I was very moved by the whole experience.

As we were getting to the end of the main exhibition, a warning came on that they were about to show a film and the lights would go out, we stuck around and we were really glad we did. A fantastic film flickered around us, projected on all those tall white walls. The film told the story of the Home Front in WW2 and it was fascinating. We felt utterly involved in the experience and were quite moved by it, even the small boy watched it, I think more for the whiz bangs than anything. It was an incredible, immersive experience.

We’d worked up an appetite for lunch so we went to the Watershard Cafe for a spot of lunch. The food was well priced and excellent quality. The boys had a rather excellent beef stew, mash and green beans, I had soup and the small boy had the “ration pack” lunch, which was five items of yumminess. We all really enjoyed lunch.

IWM North

After lunch we decided to take a trip up the Airshard which is a lift which takes you up 29 metres so you can view the city. Submariners are not known for their love of heights and none of the menfolk I was with fully appreciated the views from the (incredibly safe) Airshard. I took a few pictures but it was a cloudy day and Salford Quays, though always beautiful, was not looking her very best.

The IWM North is a brilliant free day out. There’s so much to see and do there and although we spent a good three hours looking around, we’re looking forward to going again and exploring some more.

If you’re local it’s well worth a visit to IWM North this February half term, there are lots of events and special activities planned during that week, you can find more information on the IWM North website.