Tag Archives: the lowry

Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, The Lowry

The wonderful story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is being brought to life at The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays this half term. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is currently on a UK Tour and is stopping off at Salford until 25th February. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was my favorite book when I was a child and thankfully it is also a huge favourite of my sons. We couldn’t resist a visit to The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show while it was in town.

Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Lowry

The show is based on four of Eric Carle’s wonderful stories; The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and of course, the star of the show – The Very Hungry Caterpillar. His books are beautifully illustrated. The 75 puppets used in the performance are instantly recognisable as being Eric Carle’s creations.

Appealing to pre-school aged children, my six year old was probably at the top end of the age range in the audience. Nevertheless he was enchanted by it, laughing and delighting at the antics of the puppets and heartily joining in when he could. He particularly enjoyed The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and of course The Very Hungry Caterpillar, especially the bit where (spoiler alert) he turns into a beautiful butterfly. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show runs for a little under an hour. It is just the right length for pre-school children. The audience seemed to really enjoy it, and despite the young audience for the most part almost everyone was transfixed by the performance. There was lots of joining in where the children recognised the story, lots of laughter and a sprinkling of wonder.

Featuring 75 puppets, ably brought to life by puppeteers Adam Ryan, Andrew Cullimore, Sarah Hamilton and Katie Haygarth; The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show faithfully recreates the stories, bringing each one to life with colour, and magic.

Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Lowry

It was clear that the colourful performance and instantly recognisable characters had captivated the audience; and it is easy to be captivated by these wonderful stories. I think part of the magic is that these books have a place in the hearts of both adults and the children, and will continue to delight for generations to come.  

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays until Saturday 25 February 2017.  For more information and to buy tickets, visit The Lowry website. Details of the full UK tour can be found here.

Five things to do in Manchester over February Half Term

The February half term is almost upon us (ours is 20-24 Feb 2017). I’m starting to plan some activities to keep me and the small boy busy. In Manchester there is so much to do, but here are five things to do in Manchester over February half term which have tickled my fancy.

Steam, Sweat & Spinners at MSI

Over February half term, experience the sights, smells and sounds of steam with thunderous steam engines demonstrations at the Museum of Science and Industry. Discover the steamy side of Victorian Manchester with Steam, Sweat and Spinners. Find out about the hard work and sweat which went into working in a mill and get hands on with our Goo in the Loo workshop.

Five things to do in Manchester over February Half Term

Join in with the Cotton Mill Circus story time. Work in a factory by day and circus by night and make your very own stories and tales with the magic lanterns workshop. Strike a pose in the Victorian photo booth or gather round the old Joanna for a good old-fashioned sing-along. Plus ride the 1830 Express find out how Manchester changed the world via an exploding balloon and a flying beach ball. There’s also a Victorian-style funfair in the upper yard – see the world from the top of the Big Wheel, win at Hook-a-Duck, and ride a magical carousel horse.

For more information about what’s on at MSI this half term, visit their website.

The Waterside Arts Centre

The Waterside Arts Centre in Sale (very near the tram stop) is one of my favourite places to visit with the boy. It’s easy for non-driving me to get to, it’s small but perfectly formed and they always have an interesting selection of things going on, from theatre, live music, workshops, films, comedy and much more. It’s all on their website.

Enjoy the timeless tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice on 17th February, brought to life with an irresistible blend of music, puppetry and storytelling. Or young ones might like Lolly Pops and Circus Props on Sunday 19th February, listen to the exciting stories of Lolly – as she runs away from the circus to embark on new adventures in the big world.

For older kids, who fancy a spot of CSIing this half term. Join experienced and professional forensic scientists in Forensic Science in Action. This is suitable for ages 7-11 and is on Monday 13th February, from 10am to 3pm. You bring the packed lunch and see if you can solve the crime!

Mini movie fans have two great films to choose from on Monday 20th February, with Shaun the Sheep Movie and Flushed Away. Not to mention Puppet Masters Return with Aardman Studios, running until April 1st. This fantastic exhibition is packed full of original props, puppets and production artwork from many of Aardman’s most famous films and characters. Entry is free.

Half term cooking kids club at intu Trafford Centre

The intu Trafford Centre is running daily cookery events for children during February Half Term. With different activities such as crepe stations, banoffee pie making, mocktail classes and gyozo-making sessions taking place at intu Trafford Centre every day, there’s lots to keep the kids occupied.

Five things to do in Manchester over February Half Term

With most of the activities taking place from 12-5pm outside Topshop, Upper Regent Crescent – it’s worth checking out the website to see what’s available and when. In addition to the food and craft activities, there are limited places on these free restaurant based cooking classes. Book a place and learn to cook WagamamaTampopo or Coast to Coast

All of the activities are free for all the family and are open to all ages. Visit www.intu.co.uk/TraffordCentre to find details of what’s on and opening hours.

Stockport Hat Museum

One place I’ve been meaning to visit for ages is the Stockport Hat Museum. It’s very much on the agenda this half term. The Hat Museum is an award winning museum with two floors of interactive exhibits, taking you on a journey through the history of Stockport’s once thriving hatting industry.

The museum is home to a recreated hat factory with 20 fully restored working Victorian-style machines. Not to mention a fantastic collection of over 400 hats from around the world. Over February Half Term try your hand at a different craft each day, including felt making, decoupage and easy lino print. Suitable for ages 7+. Booking essential. 

For more information about the Stockport Hat Museum, visit their website.

Media City & Salford quays

On a fine day the boy and I love a visit to Media City. It’s easy to get to on the tram and there’s so much to do there. From shopping in the Lowry Outlet, popping over the bridge to the Imperial War Museum North, exploring the Blue Peter Garden, watching a show at The Lowry or going for lunch somewhere. 

This February Half Term we will be heading over to Media City for the day, having some lunch, doing a spot of shopping and then going to The Lowry to watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show which will be on from Wednesday 22nd to Saturday 25 February.

Five things to do in Manchester over February Half Term

Media City and Salford Quays is a great place to visit. It’s largely traffic free so there’s plenty of space for the kids to run about and burn off some energy. There are more places to eat than I can count, and there are lots of interesting places to visit and things to do. My two favourites are The Lowry and IWM North, check them out, you won’t regret it.

What are you plans for this February Half Term?

Preview: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Lowry

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has nibbled its way into the hearts of millions of children all over the world. Since it was first published in 1969 it has been translated into 62 languages and sold over 41 million copies, and is one of the top ten bestselling children’s books of all time. Written and illustrated by Eric Carle, this enduring classic is being brought to life at The Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays this February half term.

Preview: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Lowry Theatre

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show will be on at The Lowry from Wednesday 22nd to Saturday 25 February, prior to starting a run in the West End.

Featuring a menagerie of 75 enchanting puppets during a magical 60-minute show that faithfully adapts four of Eric Carle’s best loved books for the stage: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show has been adapted for the stage by director Jonathan Rockefeller. The production sees four master puppeteers weave their way through Eric Carle’s stories, bringing to life 75 magical puppets that faithfully recreate the wonderfully colourful world of Carle’s illustrations.

Preview: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Lowry Theatre

Eric Carle’s books have captivated generations of readers with their iconic hand-painted illustrations and distinctively simple stories, introducing millions of children to a bigger, brighter world, and to their first experience of reading itself. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was my favourite book as a child. We wasted no time at all introducing this wonderful story to my son.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is suitable for children aged 2+ and is 55 minutes long with no interval. I will definitely be taking my 6 year old. We are both looking forward to enjoying our favourite book being brought to life.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays from
Wednesday 22 until Saturday 25 February 2017.  For more information and to buy tickets, visit The Lowry website.

Theatre Review: Horrible Christmas at The Lowry

For many families it is something of a Christmas tradition to go and see a panto or a Christmas play. We are no different, but this year we thought we’d go and see something horrible, something very horrible indeed –  Horrible Christmas from the Horrible Histories team.

Running until Sunday 8th January, Horrible Christmas tells the story of Wendy Watson who with the help of detective Shirley Holmes sets out to save Christmas from a very bad Santa – Sydney Claus.

This time travelling romp through history sees Wendy and Shirley chase Sydney and Rudolf through the ages, from Victorian villains to Medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor times, meeting notable figures from history including Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Charles II and King Henry VIII. 

It’s very funny, it’s fast paced, it’s full of excellent songs, there’s audience participation and a lot of laughs. Plus we all learned a little something about the horrible history of Christmas.

Theatre Review: Horrible Christmas at The Lowry

The songs are catchy and funny, with the rap by King Charles II being something very special indeed. The audience are encouraged to participate in a sing off (with actions) involving stuffing a selection of festive birds into other incrementally larger festive birds. You had to be there, but the boys loved it!

Neal Foster plays the role of “Dad” and a whole host of other historical characters. He was exceptionally funny in each and every incarnation. Chris Gunter is Sidney Claus – the baddest bad Santa of them all. Sidney is a Santa with a large dose of Fagin and an evil twinkle in his eye. His sidekick Rudolph is played to dopey perfection by Ashley Bowden. 

Horrible Histories Christmas is around 2 hours long with an interval. It is suitable for children aged 4+. I took two six year olds and I thought some of it was a little over their heads. They were full of historical facts the next day, so maybe I’m wrong. With tickets starting at £10, this is a furiously funny alternative to the traditional panto.

Horrible Histories – Horrible Christmas The Lowry is on from Wednesday 7 December to Sunday 8 January. For more information or to book tickets visit The Lowry website.

We were invited guests of The Lowry. All opinions are our own.

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

Horrible Histories is one of those unique children’s TV programmes which really does have mass appeal. I love watching Horrible Histories, it’s really, genuinely funny, it’s educational and the songs are catchier than the bubonic plague.

Back in April we went to see Horrible Histories – Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders when it was on at The Lowry in Salford Quays. It was a riotous romp through history and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

This Christmas The Lowry is once again playing host to the Horrible Histories crew – from Wednesday 7 December to Sunday 8 January there really will be a Horrible Christmas at The Lowry!

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

When Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red, it’s up to one young boy to save the day – but can he save Christmas? From Victorian villains to Medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor treats, join the Horrible Histories gang on an hair-raising adventure through the history of Christmas in the company of Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII, St Nicholas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as they all join forces to save the festive season!

It’s a celebration of Christmas in the most wonderful, wildly funny and moving way you’ll ever see! We can’t wait, what a brilliant way to kick off the festive season with a bit of Horrible Histories Christmas.

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

The show is suitable for children aged 4+. With tickets starting at £10, this is a furiously funny alternative to the traditional panto.

Horrible Histories – Horrible Christmas The Lowry is on from Wednesday 7 December to Sunday 8 January and there is a Relaxed Performance on Thursday 29 December at 2:30pm. For more information or to book tickets visit The Lowry website.

 

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

Review: Pride and Prejudice, The Lowry Theatre

I’m not sure what happened at school, I loved reading, I was a vociferous devourer of books, but school managed to take the joy out of every book I ever studied. This regrettably left me with an aversion to both Jane Austin and the works of the Bronte Sisters. It wasn’t until the famous TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth that I began to take more of an interest in the classics.

This week the acclaimed production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is on at The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays (Tue 11 – Sat 15 October 2016). I went along with some good friends to see the production for ourselves.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is one of the most universally loved novels. It tells the story of the Bennet family and their five very different, but similarly unmarried daughters. The Bennet family are of humble means and Mrs Bennet sees the perfect opportunity to improve their social standing when the wealthy Mr Bingley and his eligible friend Mr Darcy move to the neighbourhood.

But while Bingley takes a shine to their eldest daughter Jane, the proud and aloof Darcy instantly clashes with feisty Elizabeth Bennet, the most headstrong and wilful of the Bennet’s daughters. 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”

This production was a lively adaptation of the novel, with Mr and Mrs Bennet absolutely stealing the show for me. Mr Bennet is played by Matthew Kelly, the former presenter of Stars in their Eyes, now an award winning actor. And Mrs Bennet is perfectly and hilariously played by Felicity Montagu, perhaps most well known as Alan Partridge’s PA Lynn. Both have exceptional comic timing, glittering stage presence and they are both physically comedic performers and put their skills to fine use.

Pride and Prejudice

Tafline Steen as Elizabeth played the role of the feisty second daughter well, though I found her modern upward intonation a little distracting at times. Benjamin Dilloway as Mr Darcy was as aloof and proper as he should be and made a fine Fitzwilliam Darcy. 

Pride and Prejudice is an excellent ensemble production with standout performances from Steven Meo as the odious and flamboyant Mr Collins, Dona Croll playing a superior Lady Catherine and Hollie Edwin as Elizabeth’s older sister, Jane.

I was particularly taken by the revolving stage, complete with wrought iron framework which worked on several levels, quickly allowing the scenes to change from an intimate drawing room to a grand ball room in no time at all. 

My favourite scenes were when the whole ensemble cast got together for a ball and the glittering glamour of such an occasion nearly leaped off the stage. You really got a sense of the frisson young couples would have felt as being able to dance and flirt a little.

Stage adaptations of Pride and Prejudice can never pack every detail from the novel into the performance. This adaptation has been trimmed down to just 135 minutes, so some aspects of the story are glossed over a little. Nevertheless the key themes remain, and the adaptation is light-hearted and in so many ways played for laughs. Something which delighted the rapt audience at The Lowry.

Pride and Prejudice

Following sell-out performances at London’s Regents Park Open Air Theatre, this delightful adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Simon Reade is now on a major UK Tour during 2016-2017.  Pride and Prejudice is a must see for any Jane Austin fan. 

Pride and Prejudice is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays until Saturday 15th October, 2016. Thereafter the production will continue to tour around the UK. For more information and to book tickets visit the website.

Theatre Review: David Walliams Gangsta Granny

This summer the Birmingham Stage Company are touring the UK with their theatre production of the popular David Walliams Gangsta Granny book. We went along to The Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays watch it.

We’ve yet to read the book, but we’ve watched TV adaptations of David Walliams’ Mr Stink and Gangsta Granny and we knew to expect silliness, smells and a heartwarming message underneath it all.

The book was originally published in 2011, and went straight to number 1 in the children’s book charts. David Walliams Gangsta Granny was later adapted for TV and was shown on BBC1 in 2013, starring David Walliams and a host of other popular personalities. 

David Walliams Gangsta Granny

David Walliams Gangsta Granny tells the tale of schoolboy Ben who is sent to stay with his Granny every weekend so his parents can go out ballroom dancing. Ben thinks she is the boringest Grandma ever. All she wants to do is to play Scrabble and eat cabbage soup, but what he doesn’t know is that his Granny was once an international jewel thief known as “The Black Cat”. Very soon Friday nights are the highlight of Ben’s week, as together they plan a daring raid on the Crown Jewels.

The two stars of the show, Ben played by Ashley Cousins and Granny played by Gilly Tompkins are fabulous. Granny, although small, stooped and grey steals virtually every scene. Her occasional cabbage trumps have the audience of small children and their parents giggling – all it needs is a cabbage scented scratch and sniff card to complete the effect.

Ben’s parents are meant to be annoying, and they are. His whiny, self-centred mum especially so, though I did enjoy the almost Mr Bean-like performance from Benedict Martin who plays both Ben’s Dad and nosy neighbour Mr Parker.

David Walliams Gangsta Granny

The supporting cast help to keep the pace up, Umar Malik is notable as penny-pinching but wise shopkeeper Raj and slimy dancer Flavio, and Louise Bailey as the Queen who is rather partial to cabbage soup and doesn’t mind the unfortunate side effects.

Gangsta Granny is full of glorious slapstick humour, it’s colourful, glittery, drab, funny, serious, silly and sad in equal measure. I wasn’t quite expecting to come away so affected by the moral of the story – just because someone is old it doesn’t mean they are invisible. 

Loneliness, especially in old age is a terrible thing, and it’s something I’m particularly mindful of. If Gangsta Granny encourages more people to speak to and check up on their elderly relatives and neighbours, then that’s a very excellent thing indeed. You never know, the nice old lady next door might have been an international jewel thief with a million pounds worth of treasure in a biscuit tin in her kitchen!

David Walliams Gangsta Granny

We thoroughly enjoyed Gangsta Granny, there were laugh out loud moments all the way through, lots of slapstick, funny smells and a thought provoking moral to the story – what more could you want?

The Birmingham Stage Company are currently touring David Walliams Gangsta Granny around the UK. You can find the tour dates here.

Preview: Gangsta Granny at The Lowry

The long summer holidays are here and it can be hard to find things to keep my boy entertained. We’ve got a few nice things pencilled in for over the summer break. One thing I’m especially looking forward to is Gangsta Granny by David Walliams at The Lowry in Salford Quays. It’s on from Wednesday 31 August to Sunday 4 September 2016. 

We really enjoy our trips to The Lowry, we make a real event out of it. A tram ride, the theatre, a walk around the Quays, maybe a visit to the Blue Peter garden, a little something to eat somewhere and then home again on the tram. Lots of fun, lots of adventure and usually a really good show. 

This summer the Birmingham Stage Company are touring the UK with their production of the popular David Walliams’ book, Gangsta Granny. 

Gangsta Granny

It’s Friday night and Ben knows that means only one thing – staying with Granny! She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma…

  1. She was once an international jewel thief.
  2. All her life, she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels, and now she needs Ben’s help.

Soon Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny!

Gangsta Granny

In 2011 David Walliams wrote Gangsta Granny, which was shortlisted for both The Red House Children’s Book Award and for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. During Christmas 2013 a TV version of Gangsta Granny was shown on BBC One with an all-star cast including David Walliams himself. Gangsta Granny went straight to number 1 in the children’s book charts and his books have been translated into no fewer than 30 languages.

Gangsta Granny

We’ll be going on 31st August and we’re looking forward to watching the adventures of Ben and his Gangsta Granny!

Gangsta Granny is on at The Lowry Salford Quays from 31st August – 4th September. Tickets are available online or from the box office. 

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. Visit The Lowry website to book tickets and for more information.

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. Visit The Lowry website to book tickets and for more information.

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