Tag Archives: the lowry

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.

Coppélia – First Steps into Ballet

I try to expose my 4 year old son to a wide variety of cultural experiences, hoping that at some point he’ll either stumble across something he will love, or that it will help him have a better understanding of the arts and learn to appreciate them. It was with this in mind that I took him to see Coppélia at The Lowry. It was a child accessible matinee performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet, the first steps performance has been specially adapted for children aged 3-7 years.

Coppélia is in the middle of a short run at The Lowry. The production tells the story of an eccentric toymaker called Dr Coppélius who wants to bring his mechanical doll Coppélia to life. In the story Dr Coppélius puts the beautiful doll in his window and she soon attracts the attentions of a local boy, Franz, who becomes infatuated with her. His girlfriend Swanhilde pretends to be the doll and manages to save Franz from an untimely demise at the hands of Dr Coppélius.

The hour long interactive performance includes a storyteller who helps to set the scene and introduces the children to the music and characters.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet have created a fantastic, accessible piece for children. The scenery is really rich and opulent and the costumes really pop out. The dancers are fantastic, with the “doll” Swanhilde being especially doll-like and funny. It’s a witty performance of a witty ballet and one which children could fairly easily follow and understand.

The First Steps performance just featured Act II, which was just enough. My small boy has a short-ish attention span and was actively interested in what he saw on stage, he sat for the most part perfectly still and in silence, which is an great indication of how good it was (he can barely sit still through an episode of Peppa Pig). He was a bit wary of the dark but overcame that by holding my hand throughout.

There were a lot of little girls there in their ballet outfits, though not many boys there, which is a shame, but it was one of the reasons why I brought my son. If more children, especially boys are exposed to the joy of dance then more of them might take it up, or at least learn not to mock it and the arts so mercilessly.

I must mention the Royal Ballet Sinfonia who were fabulous and I’d love to hear them again. As a lapsed French Horn player I have a soft spot for a decent orchestra and I was not disappointed. After the performance ended the Sinfonia played on, so the small boy and I went and watched them for a few minutes.

After the performance the dancers who played Swanhilde, Franz and Dr Coppélius were available to meet and have their pictures taken, which was a lovely thing, especially for all the little dancers in their tutus to do.

I think First Steps into Ballet is an excellent thing for children (and ballet curious adults) to do. I’ll definitely be looking out for more accessible performances like this. My only criticism is the timing of it, it was on a school day so I think a lot of older kids might have missed out on going to something they would have really appreciated. But otherwise, bravo Birmingham Royal Ballet. Bravo.

Books: The Hedgehog and her Hoglet

Today the small boy and I attended the launch of a new children’s book at The Lowry in Salford. The Hedgehog and her Hoglet is a beautiful book born from a community arts project; written by Carla Henry and delightfully illustrated by Matt Hunt.

The Hedgehog and her Hoglet was inspired by a mum attending an arts event with her child. She said that when her baby came along she lost her confidence and felt grey. She said she needed to get her colour back. It’s a sentiment echoed by so many mums, it really rang true with me too. I may have shed a tear or two during the reading.

The event itself was a lovely, warm, community event. It’s clear that The Lowry are incredibly proud of the work done by their engagement team, alongside Salford City Council and Sure Start centres in Salford. It was great to see the families involved in the project, playing along with the story as Carla Henry read it out, we left clutching a copy of the book ready for bedtime and a balloon.

The Hedgehog and her Hoglet

We’ve just read the story at bedtime twice. The small boy is three and I can confirm it’s a hit. It’s beautifully and simply written. Every word counts and the tale of how the hedgehog got her colour back is quite lovely. The illustrations really make this, there is so much in them. Lots of little talking points which is always one of the real joys of reading a children’s book.

You can buy The Hedgehog and her Hoglet from The Lowry and costs just £4.99. The proceeds from sales of the book will be used to deliver creative projects for families in Salford.

Update: Two years on this lovely book is still part of our bedtime reading. Hedgehogs are still a favourite and we still enjoy reading this book together.