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

 

Soaking up the joy of Sponge

What does a sponge inspire you to do?

Something as exciting as the washing-up?  To take a bath?  Clean down your cupboards?

When Turned On Its Head looked at a sponge, they saw the inspiration for their latest participatory dance show for mini ones.

The company’s purpose is “to engage audiences and their families in a journey of discovery and imagination” and yellow, blue and pink sponges, along with a few plastic flexi buckets, provided the squashy launch pads into dream-like worlds where flying, dancing, raining sponges, tall bendy legs, alien creatures and squishy, spinning haute couture were essential elements to the young audience’s experience at the Lincoln Drill Hall today.

“Children are like sponges. They absorb all your strength and leave you limp, but give them a squeeze and you get everything back”

The Mini Malpi watched and joined in the afternoon performance of the show that’s set to a 1970s soundtrack and “is about all things spongy: a child’s ability to soak things up like a sponge, a nice piece of cake or the squashy, squishy texture that fascinates children and adults alike”.

The babies to four year olds, as well as their accompanying adults, were captivated by the show’s sensory wonderment, giggling from the outset and needing little encouragement to join in.  Particular highlights for my mini ones were to fill a bucket up with sponges and tip them over your head, going for a well-cushioned spinning flight in a bucket, building towers of sponge to knock down and generally being able to throw the springy absorbers around under disco lights with gleeful reckless abandon.

Big smiles and eager exploration confirmed a delightful time was had by all at the arts centre, and, of course, we have many sponges at home too which we may never look at quite the same again…

Other shows for little ones coming up at the Lincoln Drill Hall include:
Hubbub – a Musical Adventure, for age 5+, October 16th & 17th
Mavis Sparkle, for age 4+, November 6th

 

Lots of fun at the Fun Palace Weekend

funpalace2016“Part of a worldwide campaign and celebration of culture by, for and with the whole community,” Lincoln Fun Palace Weekend is taking place in and around the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd.

The “free, community event with arts and science activities” is “ideal for families, children and young people” and there’s certainly a wide range of activities on offer.

Today, the Mini Malpi enjoyed LEGO building, face painting, graffiti art, the Anti-Gravity Box, crazy golf (this was charged for), drumming, Zest Theatre’s Boy Meets Girl and much more!

And tomorrow visitors to the arts centre based on the University of Lincoln campus can enjoy it all again too!

Visit http://lpac.co.uk/event/fun-palace-weekend/ and http://funpalaces.co.uk/ for more details.

The Gravity Fields Festival 2016

gravityfields

Taking place from September 21st to 25th, Gravity Fields is a festival celebrating Sir Isaac Newton and it has entertainment in spades – “for big kids and little”.

bubbles-and-balloons-2South Kesteven Council’s Stephanie Foster picks the highlights of the festival’s offerings for mini scientists, “This five-day festival has more than 120 events, including a brilliant Bubbles and Balloons show for four-year-olds upwards from those clever people at Science Made Simple.  They have two separate shows with giant bubbles and whizzing balloons on Saturday, first in the morning at Stamford Arts Centre and then a 3pm event in Grantham Guildhall

 living-with-wildlifeIf your kids have never seen a hedgehog or an owl up close, Gravity Fields can thrill them thanks to naturalist Sasha Norris in her Living With Wildlife show on Saturday morning.

“There is enchanting storytelling in the Family Science Day from Mara Menzies on the tale of Isaac Newton and the apple, part of a brilliant hands-on day of discovery for families with demos and table-top activities and cool tech.

“Light, technology and dance combine in another thrilling show for people big and small alike in Body of Light (For Little Ones!). There are several shows on Friday and Saturday.”

With all this and much more – including a show called Dr Death and the Medi-Evil Medicine Show which would be a must see for us if our minis were less mini (it’s for age 7+) – there’s sure to be something to appeal to any little (or big) Newtons, Einsteins or Curies in your house.

Find out more at https://www.gravityfields.co.uk/

Magical sensory experience in the Toddler’s Room

ToddlersRoomAfter the success of our visit to The Doodle Dance Show last week, we headed back to the Lincoln Drill Hall this morning for another dance show designed for mini people.

Toddler’s Room by Norwegian company Dybwikdans is specifically for children aged 0-3 and required one adult per child so one of Willow’s godmothers joined us for the morning.

A white dome tent was pitched in the auditorium and provided a transportive and intimate space as well as a neutral backdrop making the rich purple, orange, red and gold colours used in the performance appear all the bolder.

Children were allowed to explore the space during most of the 20 minute show – and who doesn’t love chasing a balloon? – as the dancer moved, used chimes complementing the music and interacted with sculptural objects and her mini audience members.

The whirling cloak that sent the big red balloons spinning around the dome was a particular highlight.

A beautiful and magical sensory experience, it was as delightful to watch the faces of the little ones watching as it was the performance itself.

That, of course, isn’t quite the whole story.

Any other fellow 10am ticket holder may well have noticed a certain someone volubly deciding he didn’t want to go in.  A little bit tired and emotional from a bad bout of hay fever at the moment he then, of course, got really upset that he hadn’t gone in.

A big thank you to the very understanding Lincoln Drill Hall staff who let us take up a spare space for the next performance.  Which, of course, he loved – tents, balloons, music and dance all high on his list of favourite things.  He liked it so much in fact, he then didn’t want to leave and spent a long time saying goodbye and thank you to the production team.

They do grow out of this stage don’t they?