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!

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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!

Review: Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco

For whatever reason, Q asked to see the circus one day. He must have seen something on television, saw pictures about a circus or other because it became an idea stuck in his head that he would not shake. Personally I blame the Wiggles cos they have circus themes in their shows. In any case, the famed Cirque Du Soleil was in town and I had never watched their presentation of Saltimbanco so Wun and I decided we would take the kid to watch the circus.

He was duly excited about it and he talked about clowns and acrobats and trapeze acts. He asked if there would be animals and we said no. There was a small conversation about how animals should not belong to a circus but in a zoo. He said, the animals also do tricks at the zoo so its a little bit the same; which the kid was right and we had to launch into another whole discussion on animals in the wild, animals in the zoo and animals in the circus.

The bottom-line was we had to love animals and take care of them. Kids asks some tough everyday questions actually.

Anyway, Q was a little apprehensive upon seeing the stage and the general darken arena but he warmed up soon enough. The troop did a great job warming up the audience and by the time the main event rolled along, Q was utterly into the circus. I don’t think it even dawned on him that there weren’t any animals in the show. Surprisingly, he seem to enjoy the mime the best; we thought he would have been more enthralled by the trapeze or acrobats.

There was a moment where the “devil” came up- black cloak, horns and all. And the poor kid started to hold on to my arm really tightly. As a mild spoiler: it turned out to be the mime clown in disguise. It was quite funny to hear the kid laugh out loud in relief actually. Yeah, we parents take what we can get.

I’d be honest that if I wasn’t so keen on catching the show to begin with, it probably wasn’t the best place to take a 2.5yo. Even a circus loving one. But seeing as mummy wanted to watch it too… I though it was kinda great.

Review: Ace! Festival- Our Island

Our Island turned out to a really gem of a show, if a little slow to pick up pace.

I’d be honest and say that after the first ten minutes of the show I was ready to walk out- the squawking of the actors (they each spoke a different gibberish language as supposed to English) was a tad annoying.

The show picked up in pace and storyline after about 20minutes to a strong climax and finish- the overall plot was strong and the use of gibberish added a certain charm to the whole experience. Q- and the other kids, seems utterly non fussed by the non-English-ness of the whole play and my 2yo found it decidedly hilarious!

From the synopsis:
Three diverse and comical characters are washed up on a mystery island. Why? We don’t know. How? We don’t know. What we do know is – that they REALLY don’t understand each other! They must overcome their fears and phobias, and work together to escape from the island. First, they need to learn how to communicate with each other in order to work together. Using physical theatre, comedy, music and mayhem to raise some important questions and examine preconceptions about stereotypes, this is an international collaboration about international collaboration!

Review: Ace! Festival- The owl who was afraid of the dark

I read this book one day whilst wandering about the kid’s bookstore and while I didn’t like it enough to buy it (read: too expensive in my eyes), I did enjoy the story enough to think that it would make a relatively funny show for kids to watch and was duly excited that it was part of the ACE! Festival! offering.

This was probably the strongest of the festival offerings I watched- the cast started out engaging the audience even before the show actually began and had many pockets of occasions for the audience to participate throughout the show.

The storytelling element itself was beautifully done, kudos to all three actors who- despite a slightly strong English accent that threw me off a little at some points, played their roles magnificently. They kept the story simple enough for my 2.5yo to understand and Q really got into the whole show- singing and participating as requested.

A great show overall.

From the synopsis:
Plop was a baby Barn Owl. He lived at the top of a tall tree, in a field. He was fat and fluffy. He had big round eyes. He had very knackety knees. Plop was exactly the same as every barn owl that has ever been – except for one thing. He was AFRAID of the DARK. One day, Mr Barn Owl suggested that Plop fly down into the world and find out about the dark for himself. So, Plop climbed out of his nest-hole, peeped over the edge, wobbled a bit, and fell off his branch. And so, began Plop’s adventure…

Based on the classic children’s book by Jill Tomlinson, this funny, gentle and reassuring tale (is an) irresistible blend of live music, puppetry and storytelling, this beautiful new show introduces an old friend to a new generation of theatre-goers. Join Plop, the baby barn owl as he journeys into the night-time world of campfires, fireworks, starry nights and moonlit adventures. Come join us, – it’s going to be a hoot!

Review: Dora the Explorer Asian Tour

Unfortunately for me, Q discovered Dora the explorer a while back, no thanks to my niece who is a big Dora fan. We were in Penang on a joint holiday and my niece popped in a Dora DVD into the player and all the kids (Q included) settled down to watching (several) episodes of Dora the Explorer. And the intrepid pink shirted explorer and her monkey sidekick gained a new fan.

Over the last year or so, Q has really amped up his fondness for Dora and her adventures and so I figured he might have fun watching Dora live. I drew the line at a meet and greet, but we scored fairly good seats.

From the synopsis: Dora the Explorer has lost her teddy bear, and the search is on to retrieve him! With the help of the audience, Map, Backpack, Boots, Diego and their courageous friends, Dora uses her map-reading, counting, musical and language skills to successfully pass through the number pyramid and the mixed-up jungle to reach the City of Lost Toys. But watch out – you never know what that sneaky fox Swiper might be up to along the way! Dora the Explorer fans will delight in this two act, song and dance spectacular that invites them to think, sing and play along.

The show itself was a slight disappointment actually. The production was a little more than a shopping center showcase. Ok, it was clearly longer and they had songs and some moving props, but, really, it was a LONGGG puppet show. I gotta say, though, the show picked up a little when Diego came along, but really, I felt every LOONNGG minute of the show.

Perhaps I had just come off an amazing Wiggles concert, but, really, for the ticket prices they were charging, they could have done a better job.