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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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.

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: 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.