Review: Mr Benn (Kid’s Fest 2013)

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The story of Mr Benn, of the same named TV show and books starts off he same way as it always does. Mr Benn, who purportedly hates fancy dress parties, leaves his home at No. 52 Festive Road and visits a fancy dress shop where the purple hat wearing shopkeeper eggs him on to try on an outfit. Whilst in the changing room, Mr Benn (with two Ns, thank you very much) exits via a magic door into a costume appropriate adventure, be it to fight a dragon, or to save zoo animals from being abused.

 

I only know of the show because I’ve seen the books online and thereafter gone and youtubed this very ordinary man with extraordinary adventures. Plus, I love the fact he wears a bowler hat and speaks pretty darn good english. I don’t know why I never introduced Mr Benn to Q, come to think of it.

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When I found out Kid’s Fest was bringing in this show, I was a little apprehensive to take Q seeing as he has never heard of said bowler hat wearing dude but we decided to go anyway; Kid’s fest shows have yet to disappoint. And we were so glad we did.

Like the books and cartoons, this staging started with Mr Benn (with two Ns), receiving an invitation to a fancy dress party to which he was not keen to attend, because, well, you know, he doesn’t have anything to wear. Anyway, one day, he finds himself outside a fancy dress shop where a fez-wearing shopkeeper invites him to try on a cook’s outfit and when he leaves the changing room through a magic door, he finds himself with a palace crisis.

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The show blends several Mr. Benn episodes together seamlessly as they whisked us off to meet princess Annabella who refuses to eat and thereafter to help a harassed sea monster. The show hints at many other episodes, where Mr Benn becomes a magician, an astronaut, a cowboy and the brave red knight.

The four man cast steal the show with many musical numbers, each done in a different and distinct music genre. Impeccable stage timing, well placed magic tricks throughout the show meant that the kids were as wowed (how did he do that?!) as they were entertained.

Another strong show by the Tall Stories troop! Two thumbs up!

From the Sistic Page:

As if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared…

One ordinary day, Mr Benn receives an invitation to a fancy dress party – and comes across an extraordinary shop. As if by magic, the shopkeeper appears with an array of costumes, and shows him into the dressing room.

Inside is a mysterious door that leads Mr Benn into incredible adventures, full of dragons, princesses and sea monsters… Will Mr Benn ever go back to his ordinary life?

 

 

 

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Review: The Gruffalo

Most moms would agree that one of the must have books in a kid’s library is Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo. I am one of those Julia Donaldson living moms and said book is one of our favourite.

The inimitable book is about a clever mouse that outsmarts hungry fox, owl and snake and, beyond anyone’s belief, the Gruffalo too by, well, being just that tad cleverer than her hungry preys.

Needless to say, Q and I were really excited when they were part of kid’s fest 2013 (Jan/Feb) and bought our tickets early to watch the widely acclaimed show.

And the show did not disappoint! It was funny, engaging, fairly true to the book and highly musical. They kept the core rhyme pattern of the stories so the young Gruffalo fans (and their parents) were able to say the lines along with them; like when mouse says: Silly (old Fox), doesn’t he know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!”


As someone who has read the book what seems to be a million times, I was surprised to find myself rooting for mouse more than I usually did. And even the Gruffalo was more cute, funny and cuddly- and hence a tad less scary for the younger members of the audience.

Q had an amazing time. He laughed, he recited lines, he played along and cheered for mouse when she made the Gruffalo run away in fear. Even our 10.5month old had a great time; he sat through the entire show, clapping alongside his brother and watching mesmerized through the musical numbers.

The Gruffalo stage version is much better than the movie, and to an extent, better than the book. Which, is a pretty neat feat.

Even if your kid has never read the book, take them anyway!

Cannot wait to do some Gruffalo activities tomorrow!


From the sistic synopsis:

Join Mouse on an adventurous journey through the deep dark wood in this magical musical adaptation of the award-winning book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (described by The Observer newspaper in England as “a modern classic”).

Mouse can scare hungry animals away with tall stories of the terrifying Gruffalo, but what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagines? Let your imagination run wild with songs, laughs and fun for everyone aged 1 to 101!

Our year in review: 2012


January passed in a blur of work and baby prep, though Quentin and I found time to take part in our first joint fashion campaign. In February, we welcomed little Evan into our family, February 21st, to be exact. In March, we celebrated our firstborn’s second birthday and wondered where the two years went. In April, we did our company’s yearly photoshoot and I am reminded of the amazing team I work with that puts up with my mummy-ness.

In May, we took Q to watch the Wiggles on their final concert tour and realized that kids at a Wiggles concert are more “heong” than adult fans at a lady Gaga concert. In June, we travelled for the first time as a family of four to Myanmar (yes, we go there alot) and my kids got to meet up with the kids at Grace Home Orphanage, a place that is very dear to my heart. Seeing kids I’ve known for over 16 years (now grown up, some with kids of their own) play with my kids brings a smile to my heart.

In July, we finally finished our ABC program. It took us 26 weeks and we left them on display far longer than we should have. Heh. In August, my sister got married to the amazing man that I now call my brother-in-law. Q got to be ring bearer, though in actual fact, he had to be carried down by my youngest sister.

In September, we took the boys to Taiwan on a part work part holiday trip to a safari resort. The biggest highlight of that trip- not to take anything away from lovely Taiwan, was Q dropping his pacifier into the animal cages below our room and became pacifier-free. In October, Evan learnt to crawl and Q jumped on the Oppa Gangnam style wagon.

In November, Evan scored his first car- an orange BMW GTS. Q was quick to share it. In December, we put together our yearly Christmas pack and the kids got to actively participate, even if it meant Evan trying to bite into the snack packs. Bub #2 celebrated his first Christmas with a slew of parties and far too many gifts. Ditto for Q who loved ripping into the gifts.

So, that’s our year in review and when we look back, we are thankful for so many wonderful things and blessings. Thanks for sharing 2012 with us, we look forward to more memories, experiences and milestones in 2013.

yummy fiber garden gummies

I’m not sure if its a boy thing or a kid thing, or both; but I have a son (and husband) that hate their greens and fruits.

Well, ok, not entirely true. Wun would take vegetables if its placed in front of him but he’s quite happy to be more a carnivore than omnivorous. Q on the other hand, will eat some fruits and some vegetables but you can never tell with that kid. He’d wolf down a whole bowl of porridge and pick out the little green bits. But on other times, snack happily on strawberries. 

I know of some bento-savvy mummies that style the vegetables and fruits into funky and cute things to entice their kids and husbands to eat more fiber but which I craft, I was never very good with cutesy.

Anyway, like most moms, I fret about my kids’ pooping regularly and chanced upon Fiber Garden Gummies the other day and decided to buy a box for Q who is a big gummy fan. The gummies, which are packed in 4g sachets, are sugar and preservatives free also come with added Xylitol for oral health (same stuff in those edible toothpastes  kids use).  According to the insert, we need 4g+your age worth of fiber per day; which means one pack a day should keep Q’s fiber woes away. Not that we replace his vegetables and fruits but sometimes that poor little fella has problems, em, well, pooping.

The first day I brought the gummies back our little friend ate three packs (one mummy sanctioned, two unauthorized self helped) and later that day… boy, oh boy… did we receive a HUGE deposit of youknowwhat.

We’ve cut back this gummy business to maybe once every few days and it seems to work its magic. Gotta give it two thumbs up!

Lessons from Tap the Frog

I have a confession to make, I am a real Tap the frog fan. I never started off that way cos it was Wun how first got into it and got Q hooked on it. Evan, who is far from playing with the iPad, is also an avid spectator. Because Q kept getting me to play along with him, I also got into it.

The gameplay is simple enough, you  and your frog are faced with a series of simple time sensitive tasks: it could be as simple as getting your frog to jump five times up and down to something more complex like getting your frog to slide down a snow hill. Some tasks are beyond Q at this point; there are math based questions that he can’t answer knowingly. Though, its hilarious that he has the highscore on one such task purely by accident and clicking randomly. Or maybe I have a math genus… nah…

So, generally speaking, the game is simple enough for my 2.5yo to play; even if he doesn’t always gets maximum points. In fact, he almost never and has to play many many rounds to accumulate the in game coins. You get a coin for each star you earn and over the many times you play, the coins add up.

Q discovered the other day that there was an in game store where you can change the color of your frog, give it clothes and a background. And each add on costs frog bucks (the coins you accumulate) they take out of your bank. And while you have the cheater bug option of buying more frog bucks, we think its an utter waste of money, so we make Q earn his frog bucks the old fashion way. Mind you, since we each have the game on our iPad, we each keep our own frog bank.

Over the course of two weeks (seeing as he only gets to play tap the frog for about 5-10 minutes in the evening) our littler fella has earned enough points to dress his frog. Unsurprisingly, he kinda went a little crazy at the store and bought many things for his now police siren toting, cowboy hat wearing, farm living purple frog.

He discovered soon enough that he ran out of money and lamented when I told him he had to earn more frog bucks to redesign his frog and in his 2.5yo wisdom, he lamented: Earning frog money is so hard! It takes so long!

Such is life my son, such is life.

Review: Slava’s Snow Show

I’d be honest, I’m not a big clown fan. I think most of them look kinda freaky even if their funniness makes them easier to accept. Neither am I a big fan of snow and ice and all things ice related. I like living in the tropics, thank you very much. In any case, when we were invited to go catch Slava’s Snow Show when it came to town, I decided- heck, why not. But I’m packing me some warmer jackets and go with an open mind.

The show started of a little late and, truth be told we weren’t feeling too optimistic about the show seeing as the Sands Theatre was hardly even full. There were more than a few bits of paper snow on the floor from previous shows so Q was kinda bummed that it wasn’t real snow. It was a little warm, the background “music” of trains chugging along was starting to grate on me.

After a 15 minutes delay, the show finally took off and built momentum relatively slowly. We had to remind ourselves that this was not Cirque du Soleil even if the creator was with the troupe before. The clown work was funny enough, not particularly unique but more than competent and Q finally perked up with they hit the famous bubble show where thousands and thousands of bubbles floated about the stage. There wasn’t a clear flow of a story- not even sure if there was supposed to be a story back line but each individual segment was ok and the first half ended quite nicely with a screen of silk being pulled over the entire audience. Q was not impressed with this part seeing as the lead up to this was the clown cleaning “cob webs” and my 2m5yo decided it was dirty. Hahaha.

The latter half of the show was significantly better that the former with more fast paced action and funnier clown plots. There was a lot more (paper) snow being dunked on the audience so that was quite fun for the kids who were there. We were lucky to sit at a sweet spot near the front where we were spared most of the water being splashed around and we got to play with the snow but not be a washed by it as some members of the audience did. The back half had a slightly freaky segment (think rocking horse, morose clown knitting in the former, white shape walking across the stage) which I found utterly unnecessary but what do I know about the fine art of clowning, right?

The last two segments were the pinnacle of the show: a beautiful mime between a clown and “his lover” saying goodbye- beautifully executed and timed. That was followed by the legendary snowstorm which was absolutely spectacularly done. I’ve never been in a snowstorm and have no clue how accurate it was; but I liked that well enough.

If you ask Q, though, he’d tell you he liked the ending best; when they threw HUGE balls into the audience. He tried to take a ball back but we wren’t allowed to- bummer.

The show was pretty neat, all in all. A little pricy if you ask me, but quite fun overall.

Review: Esplanade’s Play Time’s The Magic Ocean

I decided it was time to initiate Evan into the world of theatre and musicals and since I was planning to take Q to watch the well review The Magic Ocean at the Esplanade, I decided I would buy a family set of tickets and take the bub.

This was part of the Esplanade Play Time offerings.

I didn’t have high hopes for the little fella but Q was duly excited to enter a world where you could swim with the whales, make friends with crabs and dance along with the fish. Ever since he watched Finding Nemo, he’s always held a particular fondness for ocean things.

One of the things I like about this is that the audience is seated within the musical space. Meaning, the action happens all around everyone and there are many interactive portions where the audience can take part: action songs, going up to pat the faux jellyfish, shooing the bad “whale catchers away” and sticking shells and starfish (velcro toys that were lying around) onto various ocean creatures (think barnacles).

I was kinda surprised that Evan stayed awake and attentive throughout the whole show and passed out gloriously for two hours after the show (yay!). Q jabbered about the jellyfishes incessantly and tried to mimic Dory (from Finding Nemo) in speaking whale to great hilarity.

This show comes around seasonally and if it comes, you guys would definitely go watch it!

From the program website:

Come on an underwater adventure this June down below the Magic Ocean!

Swim with fish great and small, or take a walk sideways with the friendly crab and starfish! Hide in a large clam shell, or peacefully glide through the sea with turtles and ride the rolling waves up and down. Once in a while, you might have to flee from the fearsome shark!

In this theatrical experience specially designed for 2 –4 year olds, children will discover a magical world through visual stimulation, music, shadow play and interaction as the ocean comes alive before their eyes.

Come sit along the seabed among colourfuls coral and watch the wonders of the sea unfold with us in the Magic Ocean!