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!

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!

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.

the man without a hand

We were at the grocery store the other day and met a man with no arms. He was wearing long sleeves shirt and one arm was distinctively emptier than the other. When Q walked past him, he waved and said hi and my 2.5yo could only muster a whisper of a “Hello Uncle” in return. He continued staring at the armless man for a while more and said nothing for a while.

Several minutes later, he came up to me and said: “That uncle had one arm only, Mummy. Oh no!” And since he had clearly been thinking about it a lot, we spent some time talking about what it means to have only one arm, what it means to have a handicap. We talked about people in wheelchairs and people who couldn’t walk or talk. It seemed a little much to be having this conversation with a 2.5yo but, ah well, i figured, why not.

Now, Q has a swim noodle with a connector making it into a hoop and today he took it apart, I think to play horsey with the noodle with the connector as a sword. Anyway, he stuck the connector onto his arm and tired- valiantly, to hold stuff. When he got quite quiet and I asked him what he was thinking and he said wearing the swim connector kinda made him “armless”, like the uncle he saw the other day. And after a pause, he said: “Its very hard to hold things with only one arm you know.”

So, after talking about it some, I asked him then what now? And he said that maybe “we could help the uncles with only one arm cos its hard that they cannot hold things.”

As parents, sometimes life finds us opportunities to teach our kids life lessons. And sometimes, God uses these little ones to remind us of our humanity and the task we have as parents to nurture a generation better than our own.

 

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!