Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Dreamland Adventure at The Blakehay Theatre, Weston

Today, Dreamland Adventure, a pantomime for 2 to 7 year olds, began its five-day residence at the Blakehay Theatre in Wadham Street, Weston-super-Mare.

The buzz could be felt all over the Theatre: the festive Brandon Trust-run café serving drinks and snacks, the Blakehay staff dressed in nightwear in honour of the show, while mums, dads, grandmothers and children got arty in the upstairs' studio.  The kids made some fabulous pictures to adorn the stage, using a wide range of materials and very little instruction – it’s amazing to see how imaginations go into full swing when we’re given reign to do nothing else but create!

After two hours of non-stop making, we headed to the auditorium for the 2pm showing of Dreamland Adventure, an interactive and well-thought out show by The Big Act, a Bristol-based theatre production and training company.  Elf Number 1 has to find his way back to the North Pole to get our presents ready or else Christmas will be cancelled and we, the boys and girls, have to help him, shouting, screaming, waving, clapping and singing our way through his myriad adventures.

Elf Number 1, gleefully played by Martin Williams, gets the whole audience going as they squeal with delight, joining him on his travels.  And on-stage he is accompanied by one of two Weston schoolgirls, Courtnei Danks and Nina Halper.  Today, Courtnei was our young actress, who played the part with gusto and professionalism, showing us her dance moves and acting abilities, an inspiration to all young spectators.

Holly Sands is fun in her role of jungle native, pirate, sea creature and Elf Number Two, an actress with a sweet, strong singing voice and a command of the stage, particularly in her pirate role, when she invites us all to be her crew.

The show is fast-paced and short enough to hold the attention of even the youngest theatre goer.  The set is simple but effective and the projected images convincing and easy to understand.  There is also snow and a visit from a very special person, as Elf Number 1 finally finds his way home!

Dreamland Adventure is showing until Saturday 24th December and Weston-super-Mum will be running free art workshops every day from 12 till 2pm.  The kids are welcome to take their pieces home or leave them on the stage for everyone to enjoy and add to.


Buy tickets for Dreamland Adventure here or at the Blakehay Theatre Box Office.

The Big Act's website

- by Becky

Monday, 19 December 2011

Bath Time at the Brewery Theatre

We were not really sure quite what to expect, coming to a seated theatre performance for under 5’s. On walking into the Brewery theatre, I immediately felt it was a perfect venue for this type of show, being small, intimate, and well lit so that it did not feel dark and threatening in the way other theatre venues might. As the lights began to dim to signal the beginning of the show and my 2 and a half year old daughter began to look perturbed and a little worried, I was pleased to see that the lights were dimmed just enough so that you could still see everything around you and that it was not completely dark, the first of many thoughtful touches.

The premise of the show is a familiar one to even the smallest audience members, and revolved around all the fun and silliness that can be had at bath time, with bubble beards, make believe, play, lots of singing, and a seemingly endless stream of rubber ducks! We were introduced to Robin and Matt, the only characters in ‘Bath Time’, and immediately they got on their audiences level with an underpants gag that had the kids squealing with laughter. You know how your 2 year old will often repeat things endlessly because they find it funny or fascinating? The writers and performers of ‘Bath Time’ clearly understood what makes little people tick, with just the right amount of repetition of jokes and themes to draw the smaller members of the audience in, but not too much that the adult members switched off. It was all perfectly silly, and pitched so well at the under 5’s. The older children were able to join in with the audience participation, while the younger ones could appreciate the very visual nature of the production. My girl was initially unsure of quite what was going on and clung somewhat tightly to me, but it didn’t take her long to warm up, and by the time the “magic cupboard” was spilling forth its contents, she was hooked and giggling along with the rest of the audience, adults included. The show lasted 45 minutes which again, was perfectly pitched, any less and you might have felt short changed, any more and my daughter would have got fidgety.

We had a ball at The Brewery Theatre, and loved the show. I found myself forgetting I was there because it was theatre aimed at my daughter, as I would have happily sat through it anyway, even if I hadn’t been accompanying a child! ‘Bath Time’ is a perfect introduction to theatre for the under 5’s. I urge you to catch it if you can, great value for a great little show.

Bath Time is on at The Brewery Theatre until the 8th of January 2012.

- Review by Karen

Friday, 16 December 2011

Aladdin at the Playhouse, Weston

On Wednesday night my 6 year old daughter and I were lucky enough to wrap up warm and join another Mummy and her 6 year old to walk through the Christmas lit streets to the 7pm showing of Aladdin at the Playhouse.

My 6 year old was very excited, in part because we saw Cinderella at the same venue last Christmas, and she was fondly recalling the silliness of the panto on our journey there. As the show started at 7pm meaning we didn't get home until 10.30pm, I would strongly recommend an earlier performance if you don't want tired and grumpy children the next day! Was it worth it though? Oh yes it was!

The show began with hissing and booing as Abanazar (John Challis) entered the stage. "We're only booing him because he's pretending aren't we Mummy? He's not really a bad man." The little wise one reassured, we were set up for the rest of the show. And how we very much enjoyed it! Aladdin (Craig Daniel Adams) in particular lit up the stage with his smile and energy. When he was dancing it really felt as if he - and the rest of the cast - were truly enjoying themselves, which helped us to do exactly the same.

Some of the singing was particularly enjoyable, especially the operatic wonders from the Emporer (Paul Arden-Griffith) What a voice! And such an unusual twist too. The litte ones enjoyed the versions of modern pop songs the cast belted out for us, and the cultured one in the group was impressed by the Gilbert and Sullivan number.

This was panto though - and the highlight for adults and children alike were the VERY silly moments! The policemen (brothers Keith and Ben Simmons who also directed the show) with their word play and disappearing box caused hilarity in the six year old reviewers. But my favourite, without a shadow of a doubt, was the perfectly camp Wishee Washee (Terry Gleed)... "SHOW US YOUR FISHY WISHY!" He did a fantastic job of really getting the audience involved and had my own silly smile spread right across my face as soon as he came back on stage.

The panto is a lovely festive treat, and a big thumbs up is deserved to everyone involved in the production. If you want to enjoy a few hours with your family this festive period and have a good old giggle, you could do a lot worse than this.

- by Holly

Aladdin is on at The Playhouse, Weston, till 8th January 2012

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Peter Pan at the Bristol Hippodrome

Panto is changing. At least it is at the Bristol Hippodrome and, as the writer of Peter Pan is a man who has adapted no fewer than eight pantomimes in the UK this year, then this most certainly has the promise of the Ghost of Christmas Shows Yet to Come. Eric Potts, who delighted us in the flesh as Fairy Bowbells in last year’s production of the excellent Dick Whittington, brings a fresh, less traditional approach to an old family favourite.

This production of Peter Pan is certainly not as clichéd as many that have gone before: no panto dame and less innuendo, while a lack of invitation to scream “Behind you” or “Oh, no you didn’t” doesn’t necessarily mean less audience participation: after all, by now, we all know what to do. But it is undoubtedly sleeker and less camp than its predecessors.

The stage at the Hippodrome is vibrant and the costumes are a riot of colour. Hats off to Terry Parsons and his team who have really gone to town on detail – the set is beautiful. The sound is booming, the voices clear and the jokes understood. In short, the production is polished. Panto often allows for mistakes, a lot of bumbling and confusion: none of that here.

Our Panto Dame might be lacking but her replacement is excellent in The Three Divas, three very feminine, gorgeous women of soulful, strong voice, belting out numbers that we all know, including a medley of Christmas songs to open the show. And the posse of pirates, fun and crucial members of the crew, offer that camp element that we have come to expect at this time of year.

Bristol’s big name this year is David Hasselhoff, a solid and entertaining Captain Hook (how tall is that man?), who becomes a quivering wreck at the mere mention of Baywatch. He’s not as menacing as other panto villains but how could he be with that bunch of playful pirates behind him?

Andy Ford is the main stay of any Bristol pantomime and he never, ever, disappoints. Smee’s rapport with the audience is a pleasure to witness – the perfect fool and, once again, the star of the show for the adults. It’s hard to imagine a December Hipp without him.

The kids, of course, love the eponymous hero, played by Robert Rees, and every little girl adores Wendy, the ‘mother’ of the piece in Janine Esther Cowell – both roles are competently played, in an understated way. Along with her two brothers, Michael and John, Wendy leaves her London home with Peter, flying out of the bedroom window with impressive lighting by Tim Mascall. Their passage to Neverland is magical and wonderfully executed, so special mention must be given here to Flight Director, Karl Magee, and to Freedom Flying because this is this scene that will lodge itself into all of our children’s minds.

The Lost Boys and the Indians fill the stage, a mix of accomplished actors and young stars of tomorrow. Like the rest of the cast, they are professional and well-choreographed.

Is this, then, the future of Pantomine? That remains to be seen

Peter Pan runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 8th January 2012

Review by Becky

Monday, 12 December 2011

Newsletter - 12th December

Win a family ticket for 4 to Dreamland Adventure at The Blakehay Theatre, Wadham Street, Weston - a Christmas show for children aged 2 to 7. Choose the performance that best suits you!

Views, News and Discussions:
* Watch Weston-super-Mum on the Sofa, where 4 of our presenters interview members of the Aladdin cast, complete with scenes from the rehearsals at the Playhouse, Weston. Up on our home page.
* Buy special Weston-super-Mum £10 tickets to see Aladdin at the Playhouse this weekend
* Becky reviews Cinderella: A Fairytale at the Tobacco Factory Theatre
* Sasha, aged 11, and Phoenix, aged 9, review New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin
* Check out this week's events
* A list of places where you can find Santa in North Somerset in Mum's Diary
* Holly is looking for German classes in Weston
* New support group for multiple birth parents
* Splat Messy Play sessions in January 2012
* Victorian Christmas Fayre at Weston-super-Mare Museum on Saturday 17th December
* Congratulations to Michelle who has won tickets to see Bath Time, for 2-5 year olds, this Christmas at Tobacco Factory Theatre
* Help needed for our Crafty Corner during Christmas week, when we're building part of the set of Dreamland Adventure with the kids.
* Thanks to all the businesses who have donated prizes to the Weston-super-Mum Christmas Raffle
* New to Weston-super-Mum? We'd love to meet you ♥

Sunday, 11 December 2011

New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin

The book is amazing and descriptive. It should be sold for people over 11 because people over 11 will get it. The bit I liked most was when Sam finally settled into the school and made loads of new friends and when Sam was getting bullied, her friends stuck up for her. At the end of the book Sam and Molly became friends because Molly sent Sam a letter saying I'm sorry.

Also the book was amazing so if you want to read this book, go ahead because it is amazing!

- by Sasha, aged 11

I loved the book New Beginnings. When I read it, I feel like I'm Sam Hendry. The chapters always leave me on cliff hangers.

I would recommend this book to others.

- by Phoenix, aged 9

Order a copy of New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin here

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cinderella: A Fairytale at Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol

“I have chosen the Grimm version (of Cinderella) as our starting point because it is less syrupy and sentimental than the Perrault version … It feels more like a folk tale that has come from the oral tradition, earthy and simple. Neither does it shy away from the darker elements of the story which are intriguing.”

- Sally Cookson, Director of Travelling Light Theatre Company’s Cinderella: A Fairytale

This description of Cinderella at the Tobacco Factory Theatre is spot on. With the exception of the brash pink party dresses worn comically by three men and a woman at the ball, the costumes are mostly of neutral colour, while nature features heavily throughout the performance in the form of five birds, played by every member of the cast, who use skilful puppetry. “How did they change clothes so quickly?” asked my five year old. “I wish I could do that!”

And those darker elements are present from early on in the show, when I saddled up to my daughter, fearful that she might be a little frightened. Every now and then I put my arm around her for comfort, maybe my own, as she seemed hooked on every detail and not perturbed by the wickedness prevalent in Ella’s father’s widow.

“I think that, at the beginning, when Cinderella was a baby, her Daddy didn’t know that the Step Mother was so naughty. I liked it when the Step Mother went away,” she told me. Craig Edwards has an extraordinarily angular face, akin to a stereotypical witch, and he is convincingly menacing.

The Step Sister, played by Lucy Tuck, is a product of this wicked upbringing, jealous and self-seeking but maybe not beyond repair. Her brother (Saikat Ahamed), lets his softer nature slip, despite the overpowering presence of these two women. The step-sibling pairing is a winner: she is gawky and searching for maternal approval, he is elegant and comical, not at all happy to be used as a female proxy.

Cinderella (Lisa Kerr) and the Prince (Thomas Eccleshare) are made for each other. Her at-oneness with the ornithological creatures of the forest couldn’t fail to impress the bird-watching, geeky Prince. She impressed the audience too and the chatter with those birds of many species was greeted with laughter and wonderment. My little companion imitated the squaws and the twitter at every opportunity.

“My favourite bit was when Cinderella and the Prince danced.” Ah, a romantic at heart? The ball scenes are lit with skill (lighting by Matthew Graham) and the show would only be a story without the accompanying music, performed live by Will Bower. The Prince, not realising that he is in love, just can’t help bursting into song and we loved him for it.

We found ourselves positioned at the back at one of the four blocks of seats and, as the stage was bang in the middle of the theatre, we had a perfect view, everyone did.

Travelling Light’s take on Cinderella is a true treat. We had a ball!

Could I just ask our spirited, sweet heroine, “Where did you get those fabulous shoes?!”

Cinderella is playing at the Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol, until 15th January.

For more information on Travelling Light Theatre Company, click here.

Review by Becky

Monday, 5 December 2011

Newsletter - 5th December

It was great to see Amy Trevaskus back at our Coffee and Bounce, reading the new Ping and Pong book: Santa - getting us all in the mood for Christmas. The children also made some beautiful Christmas cards and tree decorations (thanks to Felicity for working so hard on these - gorgeous). So good to meet some new parents-to-be aswell! And thank you so much to the generosity of some of you who brought in baby toiletry items for Weston-super-Share, helping local families in need ♥

In conjunction with the Playhouse, Weston, Weston-super-Mum brings you a special discounted ticket price for performances of Aladdin on 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th December.

And watch out for the new Weston-super-Mum on the Sofa, where Ashlene, Amy, Kelly and Becky chat to four members of the Aladdin cast! Coming soon to our homepage

News, Views and Discussions:

* Win a family ticket to see Dreamland Adventure at The Blakehay Theatre, Weston

* See what's going on out and about on our Events Board

* The producer of The Restaurant Inspector on Channel 5 is looking for parents in Weston with young children (up to age 5/6) to be part of a focus group discussing what makes a restaurant family-friendly.

* Read Emelia's review (aged 6) of Ping and Pong Santa. Thanks Emelia x

* Almost 4m children in Britain do not own a book

Add your discussions and events anytime, engage other local parents!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Ping and Pong - Santa

Ping and Pong, through the eyes of a 6 year old:

I like the bit where Ping said, "What if we can't get back up to the clock if we are stuck down here forever?" I thought it was funny!

There's another favourite bit of mine which I really thought was funny and that bit was where they waited and waited and waited for Santa and Ping just fell asleep straight away when they sat down!

I think this story is good for people who are learning to read and a good book to listen to and good to follow along and look at the pictures.

Thank you for giving me the book to read, it was excellent

Written and Dictated by Emelia Parker-Evans, Aged 6 x

Visit the Ping and Pong Website here