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Tag: family Christmas ideas

Grinch The musical – Review

Grinch The musical – Review

There are 2 types of people in this world; those that put their christmas decorations up as soon as Halloween is over, and those that would rather hide away from the excitement and joyful christmas songs played on repeat. The Grinch definitely falls into the latter catergory!

Grinch The Musical is based upon the book ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ by renowned children’s author Dr Seuss. It tells the story of grumpy old Grinch with a heart 2 sizes too small, tired of listening to the constant euphoric carol singing Who villagers and steal away anything to do with Christmas, so that it will ruin Christmas Day for the Who people and put an end to thier happiness once and for all. The story as been well adapted for the stage, and differs slightly to the popular movie The Grinch starring Jim Carey.

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Old Max is Mr Grinch’s loyal (and only) furry companion is played by non other than Welsh comedian, Griff Rhys Jones. He narrates the show, taking the audience back in time with him to recall that fateful Christmas Eve. Griff brings a relatable edge to Old Max, as we watch him trying to keep up with the antics of his younger self!

Young Max is played by X Factor 2016 winner Matt Terry. His energy levels match that of a bounding puppy perfectly. Not only can this pooch sing, but his acting, dancing and occasional acrobatics would definitely see him win top dog at Crufts!

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Edward Baker-Duly takes the starring role of Mr Grinch. Along with taking influences from Jim Carey’s Grinch, and Vitctor Meldrew, he makes the role his own with his impeccable comedy timing and ad lib, not to mention his outragous facial expressions!

Perhaps stealing the Grinch’s thunder ever so slightly, was the mind blowing talent of little Cindy-Lou Who! There are 4 pint sized actresses that play Cindy-lou on rotation, who I’m sure are all equally as talented, however press night was Isla Gie. She was like Shirley Temple after 3 packets of Haribo! If only we could bottle what she had and sell it, the world would be a brighter place!

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Adding to all that talent was some ingenious set and lighting! The stage was a life sized, pop u, 3d version of the illustrstions in the book, which helped with the magical ambience from start to finish.

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So whether you’re a Who at heart or a mean one like Mr Grinch, ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ will – without fail – get you in the festive spirit, and make your heart grow 3 sizes too!

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ will be at The Lowry, Salford Quays until 5th January 2020. Dates, tickets and more information can be found here https://thelowry.com/whats-on/how-the-grinch-stole-christmas/

Have a very merry Grinchmas!

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Raymond Briggs THE SNOWMAN Stage Show Review

Raymond Briggs THE SNOWMAN Stage Show Review

Fewer things are as magical as having children at Christmas time. It’s a time of awe and wonder, giving and sharing, and reliving family traditions. One such tradition for my family, as I’m sure it is for many others, is curling up on the sofa in our pyjamas on Christmas eve, and waiting The Snowman animation together. It’s what I did as a child, what I do now with my children, and hope it’s what they do with their children in the future, with fon memories of their own.

The Snowman, written by Raymond Briggs in 1978, was first broadcast as an animation in 1982, and has been a huge success ever since. And so, it seems, has the stage version of the show. Admittedly, I wasn’t aware of the production, perhaps with living in the north, and the show only being staged in London. However the production has been at Sadlers Wells for just over 20 years now, and continues to – ahem – *snowball* in popularity.

As you walk into Sadlers Wells Peacock Theatre, the magic is already visible. The stage setting is chunky and caricature like in style, as if the trees have been lifted right off the pages of the book. The lights are dimly lit, with blue hues to show off the projected ‘snowflakes’ that are whirling round the stage, giving the whole stage a snow globe effect. The programmes are hugely interactive for little people,with games, puzzle and colouring in sections, as well one great background information for the adults.

The music begins and the magic truly starts. The familiar melodies and tunes by Howard Blake transport you to another world, and we peer into the life of the boy and his mother and father on Christmas eve. Much like the animation, there are no words or narrative. The whole story is told by the music wonderfully expressive dancing. The dancing is fairly contemporary in style, to help with the individual concepts, like how the boy uses big, exagerated leg movements as he trudges though the snow, or the choir lulling side to side as they sing carols.

The Snowman has been on stage since the boy first created it, and suddenly jumps to life, much to the amazement of the audience! For those that are old enough to remember, his movements are remenicent of Mr Soft from the Trebor Softmint advert! This much amuses the children in the audience, with their shreiks and laughter echoing around the auditorium. They are totally captivated by him!

All the scenes are exactly as they are in the animation, with the addition of some creative characters, limbo dancing fruit, a music box ballerina en pointe, a toy soldier, and forest animals. Not forgetting Jack frost, who evokes a pantomime feel to the whole thing – the children loving to boo and hiss at his naughty antics! These characters have been written into the story seamlessly, blending so well with the original characters, that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d always been a part of the story.

The production has a generous dousing of magic throughout, but by far the most captivating is the flying scene. As soon as the first few bars of “walking in the air” are played, the auditorium goes quiet, as you watch the Snowman and the boy take to the air, in what has to be the most nostalgic piece of theatre I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.

The Snowman and women dance considerably well given their rounded nature, with plenty of jumps and lifts. Althought how they don’t melt whilst undertaking these tasks under the stage lighting is amazing! I interviewed the ‘Fred Astaire’ snowman in a Q&A article which you can read here http://danceniche.com/2018/11/30/qa-with-cameron-ball-cast-member-of-the-snowman-stage-production/

Another welcome character is the big man himself, Father Christmas. The children’s faces all lighting up whenever he is on stage. I wonder how he finds the time in his busy work schedule to perform everyday, and put his spritliness down to all the sherry he must be drinking! Watching him piroette and leap about the stage makes it quite clear how he is able to indulge in all the mince pies he will soon be eating!

The final sprinkling of magic is after the finale and when the cast have all disappeared. I do not want to spoil the surprise for you, so i’ll say this…..it is well worth staying in the auditorium after the finale, as the production brings a little of the outside, inside, with ‘dusting’ of joy and a ‘flurry’ of excitement for all.

The Snowman is currently being shown at Sadlers Wells Peacock Theatre until 6th January. More information on dates and times can be found in their website https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2018/the-snowman/

All in all, The Snowman stage shows manages to capture the essence of the animation and takes something that is so ingrained in the public’s hearts and minds, and do it justice whilst offering new highlights to keep it fresh and exciting. It’s a must see production for the whole family, and something that will bring you back year upon year, creating a new Christmas tradition that all will treasure for years to come.

*special thanks goes to Sadlers Wells Peacock Theatre and photographer Tristram Kenton*

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