Category Archives: Theatre & Entertainment

Review: PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

This summer there’s a treat in store for PAW Patrol fans – the PAW Patrol are on tour with their PAW Patrol Live show! The UK’s favourite pups have set sail on a Great Pirate Adventure and you can catch them touring arenas up and down the UK this summer. We took our PAW Patrol fan to the Manchester Arena over the weekend to see the show, but what did he think?

Review: Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

What happens in The Great Pirate Adventure?

In The Great Pirate Adventure, Mayor Goodway is busy getting everything shipshape for a big Pirate Day celebration in Adventure Bay; but when Cap’n Turbot falls into a dark and mysterious cavern, it’s up to the PAW Patrol to save the day!

Marshall, Chase, Skye, Rubble, Rocky and Zuma ride to the rescue; saving Cap’n Turbot and discovering a secret pirate treasure map. An exciting adventure awaits, but will Mayor Humdinger succeed in throwing the pirate pups off the scent?

The pups soon set sail on a pirate adventure to find the treasure for Mayor Goodway. It’s all paws on deck to solve this mystery and find the pirate treasure, including help from the newest PAW Patrol pup – Tracker! No job is too big, no pirate pup is too small!

What did we think?

We had good seats on the front row of one of the tiers, we were to the side of the stage with a rail in front of us. The boy could only really see above the rail if he sat on our knee, which was fine, it meant we could jig along to the music with him.

The Great Pirate Adventure has two halves of around 40 minutes each with a 15 minute interval, which I think is just right for young children.

The characters are really well done, each character has a human visible behind them, doing the voices and acting along. Although the faces of the PAW Patrol are animated, we liked that the people operating them wore hats and costumes and were a part of the show too.

There was a song every few minutes and lots of dancing. There were some great touches, like Ryder’s car was a real car which he drove across the stage. I also really liked Ryder’s Pup Pad which walked onto the stage each time with the characters he was talking to in it.

In Great Pirate Adventure the Mayor characters seemed more interesting to me than in the series. Mayor Goodway was really well acted and I really liked (though I’m not sure I’m supposed to) Mayor Humdinger who by the end had the best costume in the show.

The set was ever-changing, colourful, versatile and impressive. It’s as lively and interesting as they can make it for stage.

The show we went to was the third show of the day and unfortunately there were lots of empty seats, which did make the atmosphere a little flat. We know someone who went to an earlier performance where almost all of the seats were filled and they said the atmosphere was great, with more people singing and dancing along. There was lots of audience participation which didn’t work quite  so well in the half empty arena, which was a shame really.

The boy loved it. It was just the right length for him and it was fast paced so there was little chance of him getting bored. I do regret not dressing him up in a PAW Patrol costume. Almost every child in the arena was dressed as Chase, Marshall, Zuma, Skye, Rocky or Rubble, so we missed a trick there.

It’s fun, it’s lively and it’s a real treat for PAW Patrol fans.

Review: Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

Where can you see The Great Pirate Adventure UK tour?

15th August – Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
18th August – Arena Birmingham
22nd August – Motor Point Arena, Cardiff
25th & 26th August – The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
29th August – First Direct Arena, Leeds
1st & 2nd September – Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Centre
8th & 9th September – Brighton Centre, Brighton

Tickets for PAW Patrol Live – The Great Pirate Adventure are on sale now and you can find them at https://www.pawpatrollive.co.uk/

 

Disclosure: We were given tickets to the show in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are our own.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

Having lived in Manchester all my life, I felt I probably knew most of the hidden gems and worst kept secrets of my city. This week I discovered a Tudor secret, hidden in plain sight, surrounded by modern houses, apartment blocks and industrial buildings – Ordsall Hall is the most stunning Tudor building I’ve ever seen and it’s tucked away near Salford Quays. On Wednesday I took a good friend (an Austen fanatic) to see Pride and Prejudice at Ordsall Hall.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

This summer, Ordsall Hall is hosting a number of outdoor theatre productions and thankfully the weather seems to be behaving itself, so all you need is a folding chair and a cardigan for when the sun goes down. Ordsall Hall provides a wonderful backdrop to productions like Pride and Prejudice. It is incredibly beautiful and it’s worth turning up a little bit early so you can have a look around before the performance begins.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

We arrived a little late due to a confused satnav and a full car park, but we eventually settled down in our camping chairs a few minutes before the performance began. The five actors were mingling and chatting with the audience, which was a nice touch as somehow outdoor theatre seems a little bit more intimate and this made it more so. Heartbreak Productions are experts in outdoor theatre, spending their summer touring up and down the country.

Pride and Prejudice is the incredibly well known tale of the Bennet sisters, a host of charming young bachelors and of course the dashing Mr Darcy. All of the many roles were performed by a troop of just five actors who seamlessly managed to portray this large cast of characters with a simple change in posture or a different hat. It was marvellous, it really was.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

We were gripped by this story, told on a simple stage by very talented actors with the exceptionally lovely backdrop of Ordsall Hall. They had the audience stood up, learning to curtsy and bow, and we learned a simple dance. It was all great fun and I now feel well prepared to enter Georgian polite society.

Experiencing Pride and Prejudice at Ordsall Hall was a wonderful experience. It was a delightful evening of comedy, romance, and some will-they-won’t-they. But we all know they will, eventually.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

Although I’ve seen outdoor plays before, never in such delightful surroundings. There are a number of other plays being performed at Ordsall Hall this summer and they’re well worth taking a look at. There’s something for everyone at Ordsall Hall this summer!

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Ordsall Hall and we were gifted tickets to see Pride and Prejudice in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.

Catch The PAW Patrol Live Great Pirate Adventure this Summer

This summer there’s a treat in store for PAW Patrol fans – the PAW Patrol are going on tour with their PAW Patrol Live show! The UK’s favourite pups will be going on a Great Pirate Adventure during July, August and September this year.

In The Great Pirate Adventure, Mayor Goodway is busy getting everything shipshape for a big Pirate Day celebration in Adventure Bay; but when Cap’n Turbot falls into a dark and mysterious cavern, it’s up to the PAW Patrol to save the day!

Marshall, Chase, Skye, Rubble, Rocky and Zuma ride to the rescue, saving Cap’n Turbot and discovering a secret pirate treasure map. An exciting adventure awaits!

Catch The PAW Patrol Live Great Pirate Adventure this Summer

The pups soon set sail on a pirate adventure to find the treasure for Mayor Goodway. It’s all paws on deck to solve this mystery and find the pirate treasure, including help from the newest PAW Patrol pup – Tracker! No job is too big, no pirate pup is too small!

The PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure tour is visiting the following arenas this summer…

28th July – The Playhouse, Edinburgh
2nd August – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
4th & 5th August – SECC, Glasgow
8th August – Echo Arena, Liverpool
11th & 12th August – Manchester Arena, Manchester
15th August – Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
18th August – Arena Birmingham
22nd August – Motor Point Arena, Cardiff
25th & 26th August – The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
29th August – First Direct Arena, Leeds
1st & 2nd September – Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Centre
8th & 9th September – Brighton Centre, Brighton

I’m all fired up for PAW Patrol Live – The Great Pirate Adventure! I know my boy will really enjoy going to see the PAW Patrol pups when they come to Manchester this August.

Tickets for PAW Patrol Live – The Great Pirate Adventure are on sale now and you can find them at https://www.pawpatrollive.co.uk/.

What’s On at the Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall this Summer

I love a bit of outdoor theatre. Before we became parents we were regular visitors to theatre productions in our local park. When the sun is shining, there’s nothing quite so special as watching some good theatre in the great outdoors; with a chilled glass of fizz and a nice picnic there’s nothing better. So far, this summer has been a corker and Ordsall Hall in Salford have a full programme of open air theatre productions to enjoy.

Last summers’ outdoor theatre events at Ordsall Hall, Salford’s stunning tudor manor house was a sell out. This summer there are seven more open-air theatre shows booked to perform at Ordsall Hall, including performances for families and theatre fans of all ages.

What’s On at the Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall this Summer

Pride and Prejudice – 18 July 2018
Performed by outdoor theatre specialists, Heartbreak Productions, join Heartbreak and a host of charming young bachelors (yes, Mr Darcy will be there!) for an evening of comedy, romance and more than one come-uppance plus pop-up gin bar.

Twelfth Night – Thursday 26 July 2018
The world’s first cycling theatre company, The Handlebards return to Ordsall Hall to perform Twelfth Night. The all-male company pedal from venue to venue with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform environmentally sustainable Shakespeare across the globe. In usual HandleBards style, expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter.

What's On at the Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall this Summer

Romeo and Juliet – Wednesday 1 August 2018
On 1st August, HandleBards return with their all-female troupe in the beautiful gardens of Ordsall Hall for Romeo and Juliet as you’ve never seen it before! In usual HandleBards style, you can expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter.

The Princess and The Giant – Thursday 9 August 2018
For families with children, Folksy Theatre returns to the gardens of Ordsall Hall to perform the children’s favourite The Princess and the Giant at two performances at 10.30am and 2.30pm. This family friendly performance will be filled with music, puppetry and wonderful characters. Bring a picnic and enjoy some wonderful family theatre in the sunshine.

The Railway Children – Thursday 16 August 2018
All aboard! Full steam ahead! Find your travel companions and take your seats for Heartbreak Productions’ outdoor adaptation of The Railway Children, the classic children’s tale by Edith Nesbit.

Living by the railway line, the children spend quite a bit of time watching the trains and making some unexpected friendships. Can Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis solve the mystery of what happened to their father?

Pirate Pearl and the Big Blue Monster! – Thursday 23 August 2018
For families with younger children; the Little Blue Monster Company will present their brand new family friendly production; Pirate Pearl and the Big Blue Monster! Pirate Pearl lives aboard the good ship Mirabel with her crusty old shipmate – Grandpa Bert! She’s not a real pirate – but Pearl loves to imagine she’s sailing the seven seas on a swashbuckling pirate adventure. Under 2s go free!

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Sunday 26 August 2018
Folksy Theatre returns to the gardens of Ordsall Hall to perform one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies – Love’s Labour’s Lost. The King of Navarre and his lords swear off food, women and sleep in order to study for three years. No sooner have they made their oath when the Princess of France arrives on business, with her ladies-in-waiting. How will the King and his Lord’s resolve hold up? Whatever happens, expect live music, audience interaction and downright silliness.

For more information about what’s on at Ordsall Hall this summer, or to book tickets, visit their website.

Elf the Musical – a sack-load of family fun at The Lowry

Each Christmas, regular as clockwork we dig out our Elf DVD, snuggle up on the sofa and really get in the mood for Christmas. It is my favourite Christmas film by far and one we all love to watch together as a family. But would the Elf the Musical version live up to our expectations?

Based on the 2003 hit film starring Will Ferrell; Elf is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Elf the Musical - a sack-load of family fun at The Lowry

Elf The Musical stars TV and West End star Ben Forster as Buddy and former Atomic Kitten Liz McClarnon as Jovie. Joe McGann stars as Walter and Jessica Martin as Emily Hobbs, not forgetting Louis Emerick as Santa. There are a trio of local boys playing the role of Michael too.

Ben Forster as Buddy fills the stage with energy, managing to channel some of the personality of Buddy the Elf from the film, whilst putting his own spin on the character. Atomic Kitten star Liz McClarnon as Jovie is in excellent voice throughout, with a spot on accent and flawless performance.

From the start the stage is busy with the ensemble, first as a group of little-legged toy making elves, then crowds of New York shoppers, to the staff of Walter Hobbs office. They’re all fantastic and help to bring warmth, rhythm and humour to the production. Deb played by Lori Haley Fox especially stands out, putting in a performance full of humour.

Elf the Musical - a sack-load of family fun at The Lowry

The set is lavish, beautifully festive and almost constantly changing in this fast paced production. The musical set pieces are well done, though I was expecting the musical to end with the crowd singing Santa Claus Is Coming to Town like it does in the film, which is a bit of a shame. However, it does end with a happy ever after; a snowstorm and Santa’s sleigh floating off across the streets of Salford.

We loved it, my 7 year old was transfixed throughout and has talked of virtually nothing else since. It’s like the film, but quite different in many ways. Some aspects of the film I missed; but the singing, dancing and the warmth of the performances made up for everything. It’s a firm thumbs up from us, we loved it and would happily go again and again.

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to see Elf The Musical at The Lowry! Get your tickets now, it’s bound to be incredibly popular!

Elf The Musical is on at The Lowry from Friday 24 November 2017 until Sunday 14 January 2018. For more information and tickets visit The Lowry website.

See ELF – The Musical, this Christmas at The Lowry

I know it is still September, but Christmas will be upon us before we know it. Over the weekend my boys took themselves off to Hamleys at the intu Trafford Centre for the press launch of ELF – The Musical. What happened at the event was lovely. My boys came home full to the brim of Christmas spirit and keen as mustard to get tickets for the show!

The press launch was by all accounts really lovely. Benjamin and his Dad watched Ben Forster who plays Elf perform a song from the show. Then they got to meet Ben and Liz McClarnon (who plays Jovie). I think Liz was as charmed by my Benjamin as he was by her. 

Preview: ELF - The Musical at The Lowry

Liz McClarnon and Benjamin share a cuddle at the Elf Lowry Musical launch event.

Elf  – The Musical is coming to The Lowry, Salford Quays on Friday 24 November 2017 until Sunday 14 January 2018. Elf is my favourite Christmas film and this award winning musical version looks like essential viewing for Elf fans. I cannot wait to go and see it!

Elf – The Musical stars TV and West End star Ben Forster as Buddy, former Atomic Kitten Liz McClarnon as Jovie, plus Joe McGann as Walter and Jessica Martin as Emily Hobbs. There are a trio of local boys playing the role of Michael too.

Preview: ELF - The Musical at The Lowry

Ben Forster meets Benjamin at the Elf Lowry Musical launch event in Manchester.

Based on the 2003 hit film starring Will Ferrell; Elf is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Preview: ELF - The Musical at The Lowry

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to see Elf – The Musical at The Lowry! Get your tickets now, it’s bound to be incredibly popular!

Elf: The Musical is on at The Lowry from Friday 24 November 2017 until Sunday 14 January 2018. For more information and tickets visit The Lowry website.

Review: The Three Musketeers, Waterside Arts Centre

Over the half term we were invited to the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, near Manchester to see The Three Musketeers show performed by Three Half Pints. Three Half Pints are a slapstick comedy duo who have been on several CBeebies’ shows including Spot Bots and Justin’s House.

The Three Musketeers is a hilarious slapstick adventure full of 17th century style chivalry, swordplay and suddenly falling over. Aimed at children aged 5+ it was a fine way to end the Whit half term with a flourish. We went along to see the show, Ben was unsure he’d like it as he was unfamiliar with the story, but once it began he was laughing his socks off and joining in in all the right places.

The story follows the adventures of Dick-tagnan, played by Richard Franklin and his Musketeer colleagues, Ernie (Robin Hatcher) and Derek (Callum Donnelly). All three of the half pints play a number of different characters during the performance, almost all of them silly.

The play which is just over an hour long with an interval is a glorious festival of slapstick comedy. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen slapstick like this and to be honest it’s good to have proper slapstick comedy back. The Three Half Pints are masters of slapstick and make it look so easy. Although I would have preferred a “don’t try this at home” before the show, rather than after. My son managed to copy one of their moves during the interval and it hurt!

The Three Musketeers show was genuinely hilarious. There is a bit of risqué banter for the parents too, but most of it went way over the kid’s heads. The Three Half Pints are a comedy trio to look out for in the future. They’re incredibly funny and we laughed hard throughout the whole show.

It was a great show and well worth catching next time they’re in town.

Review: The Three Musketeers, Waterside Arts Centre

Click here for more information about The Three Half Pints including tour dates.

We were given these tickets for review purposes, all opinions are our own.

Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Lowry

Over the weekend the Stuff And Nonsense Theatre Company brought their production of The Emperor’s New Clothes to The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays. This new adaptation of the well-known tale, written and directed by Niki McCretton is currently on a UK tour.

This one hour show is for ages 3+ and brings to life the Hans Christian Andersen tale of an eccentric Emperor who loves clothes more than anything. It’s his birthday and he wants a new designer outfit to wear to his birthday parade. Two ‘designers’ (Bolshie and Banana) promise to create him an outfit that’s “never been seen before”, and the eccentric and vain Emperor doesn’t quite realise the spectacle he is about to make.

It’s only the village pig herder Molly who is brave enough to break the news to the Emperor. Thankfully some well appointed bunting saves his blushes and a happy ending is guaranteed all round.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is brought to life by versatile performers Jenny Harrold and Toby Gascoigne who play couple of quirky characters and each manages a plethora of puppets. The show is packed with pithy dialogue, funny puppets as well as music and song.

The puppets, many of whom are made in the style of Muppets are the stars of the show. Each one has a funny accent and great dialogue. Jenny and Toby are lively and engaging, and my six year old son loved the play. It is pitched at 3+ but I think some of the younger audience members struggled to stay engaged during some of the wordier portions of the performance, so perhaps 5 or 6 is about the right age.

The set is one of the stars of the show. The action takes place in and around a huge wardrobe and dressing table. Throw in a couple of screens and this homely set is transformed, with the help of your imagination into a town, a palace for the Emperor, a bolt hole for Bolshie and Banana and the scene of the great birthday parade. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a triumph of storytelling. In the hour long show Jenny, Toby and the puppets really brought the story to life. With enough audience participation to keep most of the little ones engaged, this production of The Emperor’s New Clothes was funny, fun and captivating.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is funny, energetic, charming and captivating. It’s as engaging for parents as it is for children, and for me that’s the secret to really good family theatre. 

Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Lowry

We were given tickets to The Emperor’s New Clothes for review purposes. All opinions are our own.

Review: Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, The Lowry Theatre

The UK Tour of Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild is currently in residence at The Lowry, Salford Quays. I went along on the first night of the run to watch the show and discover more about this extraordinary story.

Loosely based on the true story of a girl’s survival of the 2004 Tsunami; Michael Morpurgo’s novel, Running Wild, is a wonderful and inspiring story, brought to life in this award-winning production. Like War Horse before it, Running Wild centres around spectacular life-size puppets and tells a moving story of love, loss and loyalty.

Review: Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, The Lowry Theatre

Running Wild tells the story of a girl called Lilly. Following the death of her father, she goes on holiday with her mother to Indonesia. Whilst taking a ride on Oona the elephant Lilly is caught up in the Boxing Day tsunami. Oona, sensing danger suddenly runs from the beach deep into the jungle with Lilly on her back, ultimately saving her life.

The story continues with Lilly’s struggles to find food and survive in the jungle; a confrontation with a beautiful tiger, bonding with a buffoonery (family) of orangutans and a devastating encounter with a group of hunters in the rainforest.

This production of Running Wild is suitable for ages 6+. It’s not always an easy watch and there were times when a tear or two rolled down my cheek. The deaths of both of her parents and the traumatic effects of the tsunami were touched on but thankfully not dwelt upon.

The portrayal of the hunters was unflinching and at times brutal. Running Wild does bang the drum of conservationism and the destruction of rainforests in the pursuit of the production of palm oil. It’s not always subtle, but it is a drum worth banging. If Running Wild helps to raise awareness of the devastation of the rainforests for palm oil, then so much the better.

Review: Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, The Lowry Theatre

There were some funny and touching moments too. In particular Lilly playing with Frankie the orangutan and bonding with Oona the elephant.

Lilly, confidently played by 13 year old Jemima Bennett is a talent. She is at the heart of the production and pulls off an accomplished and moving performance. Of course the real star of Running Wild is Oona the elephant, expertly handled by four puppeteers. Oona is incredibly life-like, you just want to reach out and stroke her trunk.

All of the puppet creatures; from the tiger, to the crocodile, the wriggling fish and the family of orangutans are beautifully done. The puppeteers are all fantastic, there but not there, so you focus on the creature and not the puppeteer. Amazing work.

Running Wild is a bold production. It’s not always an easy thing to watch, but ultimately the story is compelling and uplifting. Theatre like this makes you want to read about the subject, look at the products in your bathroom cabinet and do your bit for conservation. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

The UK tour of Running Wild supports the Born Free Foundation’s global elephant conservation projects.

Running Wild has a running time of 90 minutes with a 20 minute interval. It also contains flashing lights and loud bangs.

Running Wild is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays 18 – 22 April 2017. To book tickets call the Box office on 0843 208 6000 or visit The Lowry website.

Preview: Running Wild at The Lowry, Salford Quays

This spring, catch the UK Tour of Running Wild, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted for stage by Samuel Adamason. Running Wild is coming to The Lowry, Salford Quays from 18-22 April 2017.

Michael Morpurgo’s novel, Running Wild, is loosely based on the true story of a girls survival of the 2004 Tsunami. This wonderful and inspiring story is brought to life in this award-winning production. Originally produced by Regent’s Park Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre; this epic production comes complete with spectacular life-size puppets and tells an emotional and moving story of love, loss and loyalty and of living for the moment.

Preview: Running Wild at The Lowry, Salford Quays

Running Wild is the story is of a girl called Lilly, who, whilst on holiday with her mother in Indonesia, takes an elephant ride.  During the ride, Oona, the elephant, suddenly becomes anxious and runs from the beach deep into the jungle.  With Lilly on her back, they escape moments before the tsunami hits the island.  Miles from civilisation, at first there’s wonder, discovery and tree-top adventures with the orangutans. Eventually her thoughts turn to her mother left behind on the beach, and wild tigers prowl, and hunger hits, Lilly must now learn to survive the rainforest.  And then the hunters come…

Preview: Running Wild at The Lowry, Salford Quays
Michael Morpurgo is the former children’s laureate and the acclaimed author of War Horse. He was inspired by the real-life story of Amber Owen, who was on holiday in Phuket with her mother and stepfather in 2004. When she went on an elephant ride along the beach, the girl noticed the elephant was trying to pull away from the receding sea water.  “He ran away and, as the water came in, I was safely on his back.  He saved my life.”

When he read Amber’s story in the newspaper, Michael Morpurgo said it was the one bit of hope amid the devastation of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.  The production supports the Born Free Foundation’s global elephant conservation projects.

This production of Running Wild is suitable for ages 6+ and has a running time of 90 minutes with a 20 minute interval.

Running Wild is on at The Lowry, Salford Quays 18 – 22 April 2017. To book tickets call the Box office on 0843 208 6000 or visit The Lowry website.