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Is it this time of the year again? We always look forward to the festive pantomime of the year. This year – The Orchard Theatre Dartford presented “Aladdin”. When I saw that Marti Pellow will be starring, I knew we won’t be let down. We booked our tickets and started the count down.

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The theatre seats were packed, no wonder given the cast, Ricky K, David Robbins to count a few. I was looking forward to the singing of Marti Pellow, who has achieved some of the UK’s biggest number one singles.

Straight from the beginning the show was full of magical moments. The kids were engulfed by jolly music, colourful characters of goodies and baddies. The nine year old, the four year old and the baby were all mesmerised. We didn’t feel two hours pass! The props were fantastic, one feels that a lot of money and creative thinking was put into the process of production. The jokes Ricky K, acting as Wishee Washee was throwing at audience, had us in stitches. The tongue twisters, they were saying with Marty Pellow, were long. We could not believe they could pronounce such long tongue twister sentences in one breath. We tried to say out couple of those, we could only get couple of words, let alone sentences.

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The “Aladdin” panto was in my opinion very well staged. There were lots of connotations of it coming from famous “1001 nights”. The famous compilations of tales created in Asia and travelled through the Great Silk road. Thus it hit home for us. We were really glad to understand and recognise the costumes, the storyline. I was proud to say to my children, that “1001 nights” consisted of more than 260 tales. It is more than “Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Lord of the Rings” and Harry Potter books combined! There is a fascinating fact for my bookworms! The costumes the dances ranged from China, Russia, Egypt and more. This was one of the best family time spent together. Ricky K’s humour, David Robbins’ colourful costumes and wigs were a highlight of the show too. We enjoyed singing together, recognizing the top hits and dancing together. We were belly laughing to the jokes and adults enjoyed the subtler ones. The show included the audience from start to finish, so there was plenty a chance to participate. The 3D effects were a great bonus in the second part of the show and made the trip on a flying carpet realistic. This was one of the best family time spent together.

“Aladdin” gets all of the five starts from us!

 

Sunday, finally a fun day.
After a long sleepless night, cue teething baby – you wake up to a beautiful voice of your eldest. “Mum, shall I take the baby downstairs”. Knowing her aunt is already awake, you let a sigh of relief out and say -yes! Fast roll 2 hours of non interrupted sleep in ages. You wake up, refreshed, full of energy. I know kids are planning something. So after a quick shower make myself presentable to the world – a swish of mascara, brush the hair and a lipstick ( no wasting time for highlighting, concealing, not even a foundation, I feel blessed if I moisturize). I call it a busy mum routine, that takes 2 minutes and one has luxury of those two minutes only during the weekends.

Kids were very keen to go to somewhere. Dear husband offered to go to Audley and house and gardens. As it is less than an hour drive away. Off we went there after a breakfast and getting ready. We arrived there as predicted within an hour. Driving in there through the arch gates is quite impressive. You can see the huge grounds, the beautiful house and lots of place for parking. Before entering kids made sure that they bought some seasonal sweets and cookies at a gift shop. Now they are accustomed to get those before, due to having a baby we may end up rushing out of the place. The nice cosy cafe was serving food and beverage, which set us up for an enjoyable quest through the house and gardens. The map you get with the ticket gives you different trails you can do. We didn’t have time to do all of them, so we will be returning.

The house itself is quite educational for kids, especially the servants quarters brings your daily chores’ importance up at children’s eyes. Hence they came out saying they will be more involved in those. It is a win win for us, parents. We loved our day there, the little one liked chasing the geese and the swans by the river and picturesque bridges. So there was enough to entertain all. Thank you Audley End house and gardens and see you soon, when you are in Spring bloom!

Life – it gets busy, full of complicated tasks. Leaving us – parents, short of time to concentrate on our most precious assets -our kids. After having prepared and passed all of her exams, my eldest deserved a reward. She had read so many classic books, even if they were tedious and boresome at times for her young acquisitive brain. She prefered more action-p

acked and light reading like the ones by David Walliams. Hence, she was excited, to say the least when I announced that I am taking her to see one. “Billionaire boy” was one of the books she read. I, on the other hand, was a little sceptical, to be frank. As my reading taste lies within the classics category.

The bestselling children’s author David Walliams and the award-winning Birmingham Stage Company have teamed up again for a brand-new production of Billionaire Boy. This is their third collaboration after the Olivier Award-nominated Gangsta Granny and acclaimed Awful Auntie productions. Billionaire Boy started life as a David Walliams novel for children in 2010, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, and was filmed for the BBC in 2016.

Billionaire Boy tells the story of Joe Spud, who is twelve years old and the richest boy in the country. He has his own sports car, two crocodiles as pets and £100,000 a week pocket money. But what Joe doesn’t have is a friend. Being bullied at posh school and having no friends, made him unhappy. So he decides to leave his posh school and start at the local comp. But things don’t go as planned for Joe and life becomes a rollercoaster as he tries to find what money can’t buy!

He tries to hide his dad’s wealth. He gets along with one of his classmates until his habit of buying everything and everybody takes the better of him. Trying to pay the bullies, who bully his only friend, Joe ends up losing him too. His efforts of appearing like any other child nullifies when his dad delivers his homework in a helicopter. Thus leaving him without any real friend. And making him miserable again.

The production is full of funny moments. The songs, the dances and the humour intended for us adults keep it all entertaining. My daughter liked the scenes with Mrs Trafe’s abominable food. The cockroach cake, non- baked potatoes with slime on it, with added ear wax as an extra flavour anyone? We both liked the teacher songs and were singing and referring to them on the way back home. “Don’t run, walk”, “You are not shaming yourself, but the whole school”,  “if you have got something to say, say it to everyone in the class” 🙂

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Joe comes to senses after finding out the new boy was actually paid to be his friend. He tries to run away. I am glad Walliams brings this issue up. Having a preteen, I can see this easily happening. Thus us parents, we need to spend a lot of time and effort trying to connect to our kids. Meeting their basic needs of love and being there for them through rough and good times. As everything seems so big in their eyes at these hormonal times. I discussed this point with my child and was glad that this prompted the conversation. We came to an agreement and sealed it with a nice song from this show.

After finding out his dad is completely broken, Joe who was at Raj’s at a time rushes back home. To make sure his only parent, his dad is ok. He forgets his bitterness, his disbelief of dad’s new girlfriend who only is there for the money. Joe only wanted to see his dad and be there for him. This is another good point to stress with kids. When times get rough, the most important thing is a family. If one is in good health, the rest will follow.

Seeing his dad calms Joe. Dad says he can take his things from his room while other things are being repossessed. Joe runs into his room and comes back with the only thing behind his back. The loo roll rocket that his dad made when they did not have anything. This goes to show again, that best things in life are free. We have to remember it. Being there for our families and kids, making the best of what we have got is far more valuable in their eyes than millions worth sports cars or pet crocodiles.

2. Billionaire Boy Live On Stage by Birmingham Stage Company. Photo by Mark Douet 650A9990

Billionaire Boy is adapted and directed by Neal Foster, designed by Jackie Trousdale, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Nick Sagar and music by Jak Poore.

I and my daughter loved this production. We came out rich in a happy experience and covered important topics with my preteen. Thus it gets double 5*s from us.

Billionaire Boy is suitable for ages 5 +

Book online at http://www.orchardtheatre.co.uk

 

It is hard knock life!

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I took my 10-year-old daughter to this musical. Before coming we watched the movie together and we were singing the songs from it for days. We could not wait for the day to come and see the musical. Finally, the day arrived. We left the younger siblings with their dad and off we went on a mother-daughter date. Upon arrival the theatre was buzzing, lots of girls came dressed as Annie. The excitement in the air could be felt easily.

It started in the flat of Miss Hannigan, old 30s style rather tatty decor. The girls who were preparing to go to bed – were in rags too. After being told off by Miss Hannigan the first song “It’s hard knock life” came. We were taken how the young girls could sing such high notes. We could feel their anger and disappointment. Craig Revel Horwood was barely recognisable under his make up, but boy was he good!? After seeing him being a judge in “Strictly come dancing” for years, I wanted to see him on stage. This dream came true and he delivered on it! I didn’t know he could sing, act as well as he dances- he was  flawless.

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As the scene is set in the 1930s, all of the actors were wearing beautiful clothes from those times and embalming our hearts with exceptionally choreographed dances/ songs. We both liked their costumes, their moves and we sang along together the songs. We laughed, we cried, we enjoyed the whole show. The homeless of Hooverville saddened us. But the moment Annie met her dog, the whole audience melted. The songs and the dances of “NYC” were personally one of my favourite ones.  This musical has two parts of one hour with one intermission in the middle. But it is so engulfing we have not felt how an hour went when first curtains drew. We quickly grabbed our drinks, as we didn’t want to be late for the second part.

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The second part, where one gets to see the president Franklin D Roosevelt. His cabinet and how optimism helped overcome what was an economic disaster. This staying optimist was one of the key messages that my daughter liked. I hope she keeps this and looks at a brighter side of things. I thought I may sing the song “Tomorrow” whenever she starts to get overwhelmed.

“Annie” is a must-see musical for every child that complains about their lives nowadays. This musical was originally written about the Great Depression. How the US’s banking system collapse lead to millions of people being left on the streets, starving, resulting in numerous orphans. Annie was one of them. Today’s interpretation makes one think of what’s happening in the world, how a refugee would feel abroad left without any relatives or parents. Thus, this musical opens one’s eyes to the emotional and psychological turmoils of a struggling young person. Who is facing those hardships due to political instability in his/her country. My ten-year-old was in tears, she said she was sorry for all the irrational drama and that she appreciates, even more, everything she has. Besides the song “You’re never fully dressed without a smile” is another good one remember. As a smile can save the world.

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It is amazing the number of songs, music, dances and text the cast had to learn to perform in this musical. One can see and feel their professionalism, dedication, military work done behind to achieve such a pristine show. It received standing ovations at the end. We both loved it, came out inspired, singing the songs and retained the message of being positive and appreciative of everything we have.

A brilliant musical about a young orphan girl with optimistic views, which led her to a bright future.

“Annie” the musical gets 5*s from us!

Jill Murphy’s
The Worst Witch

Do you have a key stage 2 child? Then you have definitely heard or seen numerous episodes of the TV series “Worst Witch on CBBC.

My child even lent a book from our local library and read it several times. When I said the play of “Worst Witch” is coming to Orchard theatre, she was elated!

Long before Harry Potter there was Mildred Hubble. An ordinary girl who found herself in an
extraordinary place: a school for witches.

Now in her final year, accident prone Mildred and
her fellow pupils are about to embark on their biggest and most important adventure yet…

Jealous Ethel Hallow is always out to spoil Mildred’s fun. Miss Hardbroom is opposed to all
fun in general. And just as Mildred sparks some inevitable mayhem certain to upset them
both, an old enemy returns with a plan for revenge that could threaten not just the Academy,
but the whole world.

Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch stories have sold more than five million copies worldwide
and been made into numerous films and TV series.

Featuring all of Jill Murphy’s beloved characters, this thrilling new stage adaptation is
directed by Theresa Heskins (2017 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and
Young People) and features original songs, music, magic and a dose of Mildred’s unique
brand of utter pandemonium!

We particularly liked the postive message it gives to children:

  • to keep percevering no matter what background you are from;
  • to cheeish and keep good friendships;
  • to work as a team and
  • the power of being a unity.

The magical parts, the pyrotechnics, the fun, the humour, the music and songs gave the show an unforgettable atmosphere.

We were charged with positivity after the play! Go on and be ready to fall under a spell of this benificial to all family play.

Jill Murphy’s – The Worst Witch

A new play by Emma Reeves, Directed by Theresa Heskins

Photo by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

The Worst Witch is the story of an ordinary girl who finds herself in an extraordinary place: a school for witches. Now in her final year, accident-prone Mildred Hubble and her fellow pupils leave a trail of mayhem behind them as they find themselves at the centre of a battle that’s being fought for their future.  

Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch stories have sold more than five million copies and been made into films and TV series by HBO, ITV and CBBC.

Winner of the Royal Television Society Award for Best Children’s Television Programme, and of the 2017 British Screenwriters Award for Best Children’s Programme for the television adaptations of The Worst Witch, Emma Reeves’ screen writing credits include Eve, The Dumping Ground, Young Dracula and The Story of Tracy Beaker. Her stage work includes the Olivier Award-nominated and critically acclaimed adaptation of Hetty Feather (UK tour and West End).

The show will be at The Orchard Theatre from Wednesday 27 February – Sunday 3 March 2019.

To book tickets or for more information visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call the Ticket Office on 01322 220000.

We are now running a competition to win the tickets to the show at Orchard theatre.

To be able to participate in the competition simply answer the following question:

 

“What is the name of the ordinary girl, who finds herself in a witching school?”

 

The competition closes on midday 25.02.2019
The winner will be chosen at random and contacted to organise the tickets.

If we don’t hear from the winner, we will draw again.

Somewhere between long grass and flowers there is a magical Little Kingdom. The chirping birds and fluttering butterflies only, know that- it is a magical kingdom. A kingdom where a fairy princess Holly and her friend Ben- the elf live.

Every little child who have seen this cartoons are mesmerised by their magical adventures. So, today I had a chance to take my four year old and five months old to the live show.

The theatre was buzzing. By the time we arrived there, most of the parents perused the gift shop- to kit out their little fairies or elves. My lot had to have the spinning light wheel. We have made our way to our places, thanks to the staff who were pointing to our seats, it was easy to find. The audience young and not so young was very excited. The show has started and everybody was sucked right into it.

It is fun, full of surprises, lots of magic, singing and dancing. Numerous jokes, games and dances were with audience participation too. We have not seen how the time went and the first part ended.

We made our way to baby change, which was clean and comfy for both mother and child. Right when we were done, the bells were ringing for the second act.

The second part was even more exciting. As the kids got to see a tooth fairy, a magical kingdom’s birthday party preparations and more.

The kids were singing the songs in the car all the way home. I will be using the last song to prevent a tantrum. That good a tool, I gained today. Talk about winning at parenting, bringing the children to their favourite show and gaining a tool to save ourselves from some toddler drama!

All in all, both kids and I enjoyed the show. I think the length of the acts are perfect for young theatre goers. And it is full of interesting twists to keep them in their seats! It gets five stars from us!