Sunday Sevens #5

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my fifth entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

HowTimeFlies1. How Time Flies

Christopher Nibble wasn’t our only theatrical experience this week as I braved taking all the minis on my own to see How Time Flies at the Lincoln Drill Hall on Monday.  Billed as interactive, it was testament to how engaging the show was that both Luke and Willow were fully focused on the archaeologists’ investigations into ancient skeleton Skelebob’s possible origins and endings whilst I had to walk an unsettled Faith around at the back of the auditorium several times.  Eccentric characters, melodramatic speculation, interesting facts – did you know the largest fossilised poo ever found is seven inches of Viking excrement? – repetitive sing-along musical interludes, a camel that added to the toilet humour and the chance to move, touch, discover, build and be involved in the narrative meant that the minis weren’t the only ones fascinated by the unfolding mystery.  To find out where Handmade Theatre are taking Skelebob next click here.

ChickenHat22. Seasonal storytelling

Less ardent tractor fans who made it past the line of vintage agricultural vehicles quicker than we did at Countryside Lincs last week may have made it to one of Rhubarb Theatre’s interactive storytelling sessions.  Willow obviously knew she’d have a second chance to enjoy one of the company’s theatrical tales as we were booked in to Lindum Books’s monthly storytime on Tuesday.  In honour of the Easter holidays the session was based on The Little Red Hen and saw us decorating and donning flapping chicken hats which Willow was eager to share with daddy later that evening too.  We missed March’s interpretation of Jack and the Flumflum Tree as it was fully booked before we thought to enquire so don’t forget to give them a call to reserve your place if you’d like to take a mini one along in May.  To find out more about the uphill store’s calendar of events click here.

IMG_43933. Celebrity posing

Christopher Nibble wasn’t the only star that Willow was able to pose for the camera with this week.  Despite thinking we’d somehow managed to avoid the Frozen phenomenon we discovered a few weeks back that, whilst we haven’t seen the film all the way through, the minis have with their grandparents.  And Willow seemed to definitely know who Elsa and Anna were when they put in an appearance at Holly Tree soft play centre this weekend and was eager to skip to the front of the queue to get her photo taken with them.

4. Hard graft

Whilst most parents were planning egg hunts and Easter crafts for the bank holiday weekend, the minis’ parents took them to a workhouse instead!  Fortunately for them The Workhouse in Southwell is now a National Trust property and provides exploration and dressing-up opportunities for its visitors instead of hard labour.  And we can confirm that the tasty treats in the cafe are a lot more delicious than the original menu of gruel sounds too.

IMG_44115. Hill Holt Wood

We did have plans to go egg hunting as well though and braved today’s weather forecast to head to Hill Holt Wood to join in their organised search.  We’re going to put our lack of success down to following another group of searchers too closely rather than simply being completely inept at finding any.  Having accumulated a tally of zero, we took a “not ‘appy” Luke and his sisters into the craft room where Easter crowns were decorated and cake devoured in the adjoining cafe.  Luke and Willow were also very privileged to have the hard won chocolatey prizes of friends’ children shared with them (when Luke allowed it as he didn’t think he should take it at first as he hadn’t found an egg).  Refuelled we then took another quick turn around the woods and were well rewarded in racing the raindrops as this time Luke found an egg, now “‘appy” we were allowed to return to the car.  Apparently 100 eggs were originally placed around the woodland, I wonder how many they’re still looking for now!

6. Eggscellent explorers

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Our home, very DIY, egg hunt was much more successful in volume though.  Whilst we had to relocate to indoors, Luke wasn’t satisfied with finding all the shiny-wrapped treats once.  Following their first quest, daddy and mummy were banished to the hall whilst he and Willow re-hid them all so we had to find them instead and then we all took turns to hide and find them over and over again for the next hour or so, albeit with a slightly decreasing supply each time.  It was very heart-warming that Luke, unprompted, was always keen to make sure Willow had as many in her basket as he did.  Although Willow had to be convinced that the prolonged search was a sensible plan of action at first.  She seemed to consider the find the chocolate, eat the chocolate way of playing the game more preferable but soon joined in enthusiastically too, remaining as excited at finding an egg in the same place for the tenth time as she was the first time.

7. Not just chocolate

Luke was given a mini bat signal as part of an Easter gift from grandmum.  Daddy and mummy may let him have his turn soon…

SundaySevens

Everything’s dandy in Dandeville

IMG_4399If you’re looking for a role model to help expand your picky eater’s palate then at first glance Christopher Nibble isn’t your guinea pig.

He, along with his friends and family and all the guinea pigs in Dandeville, love eating dandelion leaves – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  At least they’re eating their greens, right?

They love eating them so much that Topsy Turvy Theatre have turned their munching and crunching into a song as part of their stage adaptation of Charlotte Middleton’s story.

Performing at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham today, the company combined cute puppets with musical numbers and an engaging narrative, along with the chance to join in a rain dance, to reenact the horticultural tale.

As well as enjoying a side lesson in the economics of demand and supply, the audience took a trip to the library with the curious cavy and learnt how to cultivate dandelions to ensure they didn’t disappear from the town – but they did also learn that eating a range of food was a good idea along the way too.

ChristopherNibble
Click on the poster to find out where Topsy Turvy Theatre are taking Christopher next.

Luke liked Mr Rosetti the cafe owner and the farmer trying to sell his cabbages, they both enthusiastically joined in the rain (and get dry) dance and Willow was very excited by the paper dandelion seeds released over the young audience memebers’ heads near the end.

We’ve long been fans of the tale of dandelion derring-do but didn’t realise there were sequels and, whilst Luke and Willow enjoyed a post-show meeting with the furry star, we added Christopher’s Bicycle and Christopher’s Caterpillars to their bedtime reading pile – signed copies too!

And just in case you can’t remember what you have to do – just pick your dandelion’s white head of seeds and 1, 2, 3… blow!

To keep up to date with the Terry O’Toole Theatre’s children’s theatre shows click here.

Topsy Turvy Theatre’s Christopher Nibble

ChristopherNibbleIf you’ve already had your fill of fluffy bunnies and cute chicks this Easter then why not try to turn your children’s attention to guinea pigs instead?

Topsy Turvy Theatre are proudly presenting Christopher Nibble at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham on Saturday, April 15th, at 3pm.

The musical play for children aged 2-7 is adapted from the book by Charlotte Middleton and follows the story of the dandelion-loving cavy as he learns how to save the delicious delicacy from disappearing.

Add in energetic storytelling, handmade puppets and stunning scenery and Christopher Nibble’s tale of derring-do is sure to be as uplifting as any chocolate-fuelled sugar rush in your children’s Easter break.

Click here to find out more about the show. There is also a BEE A Garden Super Hero family workshop at the venue at 1pm celebrating National Garden Week.

Call the theatre on 01522 883311.

Soaring high with Flutter and Fly

flutterandflyHave you ever had your hand tickled by a clarinet?

No? Then you probably weren’t a member of the Lincoln Drill Hall’s audience for either of Sinfonia Viva’s performances of Flutter and Fly at the weekend.

A sensory delight all round, the show was designed for ages 6 and below and the mini ones knew they’d come to the right place when they were greeted with their choice of sticker and some ribbons to hold ready to wave as kite tails later on (and, of course, anytime they felt like it in between).

FaithRedCushion
The colour of Faith’s beanbag of choice coordinated with her ladybird outfit.

Two steps further in and the very aesthetic carpet of brightly coloured bean bags caught your eye and welcomed you to take a seat on the surrogate clouds ready to float along with the narrative (in between getting up and dancing of course).

Before being lifted up by the music there was a chance to meet the musicians and their instruments and even have a bang on the jungle drum yourself, as well as decorate your own paper aeroplane.

Beyond children’s percussion instruments there are rare opportunities for mini ones to come up close to a range of woodwind, brass and string instruments to see what might capture their interest and this pre-event meet and greet was one of my main reasons to book tickets for the show.

It was then time to take flight with the story of Rowan and her paper aeroplane as we watched illustrations being drawn live alongside listening to the music.

The programme choice definitely appealed to me – from the nostalgic reminder of a bumble bee song we sang at Brownies (although ours wasn’t so nice a version) juxtaposed with The Flight of the Bumblebee to the crowd pleasing Let’s Go Fly a Kite and from a mini ones’ favourite Zoom Zoom Zoom We’re Going to the Moon to Beatles song Blackbird that I haven’t stopped singing since, our ears had a very special treat.

And, as it was the first cultural experience that Faith was mostly awake for rather than sleeping through, it got the miniest of mini ones approval too.

A book and CD of the performance, included in the ticket price, were handed out to families as then left the venue so we could continue our enjoyment at home.

Like the sound of this?  Then you might be interested in the family lunchtime concert being  presented at the Lincoln Drill Hall by the LICMF featuring the Slidin’ About Trombone Quartet.  Click here for more information on the Tuesday, April 4th event that will take place at 1pm.

Scarecrows, disco dancing and the roll of a dice equal half term fun

It’s always nice to hear other people back up your own opinions isn’t it?

The Lincoln Drill Hall has long since been a favourite venue of the Malpis both before and after the arrival of the mini ones and also before and after Daddy Malpi and I worked there.

So it was lovely to hear another two mums chatting about how fabulous the arts centre is too whilst we were sat in the auditorium waiting for curtain up.

scarecrow
Rocking a fairy dress and pirate slippers whilst meeting Sally the Scarecrow – you have to dress for the theatre you know!

Whilst the venue in Free School Lane, Lincoln, programmes shows and activities for children all year round this programming inevitably increases during school holidays and Willow, Faith and Mummy Malpi were taking advantage of the half term’s showing of Marty MacDonald’s Toy Machine when we overheard the mums praising the Drill Hall’s family-friendly features.

And Willow definitely enjoyed that day’s show too, joining in with the well-known songs included in the show such as Old MacDonald’s Farm, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the Hokey Cokey.  It was so nice to see a show advertised for age 2+ as well rather than the more often 3+ or 4+.  And she even had the chance to meet Sally the Scarecrow after the show too!

The following day we were back to enjoy the Diddy Disco.  This time Luke joined us and Grandmum came too because I’m not brave enough to take all three of the mini ones on my own yet.  Was just as well as Luke turned out to be having an excitable day and Willow was determined to get her groove on so they weren’t often in the same area at the same time for long although they did both like joining in with Sleeping Bunnies in between the pop songs as well as delving into the dressing up box in the cafe area.

And we were back again at the weekend, this time it was Grandmum’s choice for the appropriately titled Granny’s Game by Rhubarb Theatre.

grannysgame

Promoted for age 5+ it was a bit of a gamble for us but we know that Luke has enjoyed one of their previous shows and their trademark mix of physical theatre and use of transformative staging and props is his kind of thing.

Snakes turned into an elephant and a bed changed into an Egyptian sarcophagus as we followed two children whose board game comes to life and they have adventures in a variety of different countries and their audience of mini ones were giggling along at the humorous moments from the start – ours particularly liked the butterflies.  Rhubarb Theatre opened up the stage to their young audience at the end too so they had the opportunity to explore the props and ask questions about the staging including the projection technique which turned out to be delightfully old school.  Anyone else remember overhead projectors from their school days?

Faith either slept or fed through all these events so we’ve got lots of reasons to keep going back so she can join in in the future.

The Lincoln Drill Hall includes children’s events in its year-round programme as well as during school holidays.  View its latest season calendar by clicking here.

Sold out success for Justin Live

justinliveYou know you must be at the epitome of your career when, as a comedian, you can simply stand still on stage and have your audience in fits of laughter and, as an entertainer, your listeners are so keen to join in with you, you can easily get them to finish off all your songs for you.

Star of several CBeebies shows including Something Special, Justin’s House and Gigglebiz, Justin Fletcher is an idol for pre-schoolers across the country and so it’s unsurprising that the two performances of his latest stage show that were hosted by Grimsby Auditorium on Sunday were both completely sold out.

Those of us who managed to secure tickets were richly rewarded with a high-energy spectacle with a pantomime atmosphere that included confetti canons, water blasters, circus skills, slapstick comedy, audience interaction and even an appearance from Nellie the Elephant (which earned extra special applause from Willow who was transfixed throughout the show).

Nursery rhymes, original songs, pop favourites and even a jive number meant there was a choice for everyone musically and many of those lucky enough to have parents who booked far enough ahead to secure seats in the stalls (unlike Luke and Willow who were looking down from the balcony) even had the opportunity to have a dance with Justin as he made his way through the audience on a several occasions.

We weren’t sure whether Justin’s “close friend” Mr Tumble would be making appearance or not but Willow obviously has more faith in his magic, calling for him near the end of the interval and sure enough her call was soon answered as the star waistcoat-ed hero cycled onto stage on his mini bicycle to Let Me Entertain You at the start of the second half.  And, five custard pies later, Luke was most definitely entertained.

I think we can safely say that both Willow and Luke loved the show, finishing dancing along to the finale songs next to their seats and, as daddy paid a quick visit to the merchandise stall to buy  CD on the way out, they kept on dancing in the car to Justin’s singing most of the way back to Lincoln until exhaustion finally overcame their excitement.

If you are better at booking ahead than we are you might be interested to know that Justin will be returning to the north of the county next year.  Justin’s Party will take place at The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe on Saturday, April 1st, 2017. 

 

A monsterously good time with Monstersaurus

monstersaurus2“Monty LOVES inventing,
BUT things don’t always work…”

Claire Freedman and Ben Cort’s characterful tale Monstersaurus (Simon and Schuster, £5.99) has long been a favourite in our house so when I saw there was a stage show adaptation by Big Wooden Horse and it was coming to Terry O’Toole Theatre it was definitely a date to go into the diary and The Mini Malpi were delighted to be a guest of the North Hykeham theatre for the 3pm show on Saturday.

With a set that was bedecked with everything a young inventor could want – magnifying glass, specimen bottles, a bubble machine, instruction books and, of course, an inventing machine – it was interesting to see how the theatre company would adapt and expand on its fun source material.

monstersaurus3Lively puppets, energetic songs and dances (in case you’re wondering, Monstersaurus rhymes with chorus) and disgusting ingredients supplied by some audience participation saw us introduced to Monty’s mum, an expanded timeline, a language all “swampy, green and wobbly” Bogablob’s own, a comprehensive back story covering Dust Monster’s origins (but not the title character’s due to a “sensitive family history”), a diamond geezer version of the main monster that’s sure to have changed a few parental storytime renditions following the show and a glimpse into the best friends’ future travel adventures.

I was in proud, smug-mummy mode to start with as my four-year -old son chose to sit on his own on the front benches the theatre put out for children’s shows for the first time.  He’s not great at sitting still but the show had him riveted, if not to the actual seat, to a defined space around it.

monstersaurus4And it was lovely to be able to watch from above his very physical reactions to what was happening on stage, bouncing up and down with excitement along with Monty’s enthusiasm, laughing at and pointing to things that caught his attention, turning round on one occasion to highlight to us his enjoyment and concentration (“Luke-y watching”) and jumping to the floor behind the bench and back over as each monster was explosively introduced (note to self: must move the sofas away from the wall so there’s space to hide behind them when he’s old enough to be introduced to Doctor Who!)

Advertised for age 3+, my 22-month-old daughter was also fully engaged with the show, joining in the clapping at all appropriate times, both as applause and along with the beat of the songs.

Of course, as with all smug-mummy moments, they only last for a certain length of time.  But this time, my son’s quickly unravelling behaviour was for the sweetest of reasons – and quite an appropriate one too.  “Monty cheered, I’VE MADE A FRIEND… A MEGA MONSTER ONE!” near the end of the book and Luke too found a friend in the (very non-monstrous) five-year-old he was sat next to and whose family member we were sat near to as well.

monstersaurus5It’s so lovely how children can just make friends so instantly and, whilst not necessarily obvious at first glance, they were still very focused on events unfolding on the stage, adorably copying the actions of Monty and Monstersaurus between them as they flew off on an adventure.   But, as the new friends’ enjoyment and reenactments became increasingly spirited, we were also quite relieved when the actors took their final bows and we were all able to leave on a high with no calming intervention required (just).

With the book’s final line reading “What fun did they get up to? YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE…” all we need now is Claire Freedman to pen the sequel and hope that Big Wooden Horse would bring their further adventures to life on stage too as we’d certainly be doing our “Saturday dance” and booking seats (along with the space around them!)

Missed Monstersaurus at the TOTT?  Click here for further tour dates elsewhere.

More children’s theatre coming up at the Terry O’Toole Theatre includes:
Granny’s Game by Rhubarb Theatre, November 19th
Lily and the Little Snow Bear by Blunderbus, December 17th