The Wycombe Swan theatre was opened in November 1992. It seats over a thousand audience members. The theatre presents a varied and eclectic programme: musicals and dramas (professional and amateur), comedians, orchestras, tribute acts, ballets, ice dancing shows and pantomimes. It also hosts a summer youth project every year, which culminates in a full musical performance with a cast of around 240 local youngsters.
Author: Helen Eastman
Review In the Night Garden Live
This was the venue for my three year old daughter and myself to experience “In the Night Garden – Live“. This is the touring production which launched this year, following the conclusion of it’s seasonal ten year run at the O2 in London.
The stage version of the children’s television show played like a slightly extended episode of the programme, but with both actor controlled puppets and performers costumed as larger than life-size characters. All the main Night Garden characters were featured, with opportunities for the audience to join in with each characters signature song. Projections gave the stage the feel of the tv show, with the familiar locations, the titifers and the haa hoos all featuring.
The story was a little simple, even by night garden standards. Iggle Piggle goes into the night garden and meets all his friends by following their sounds. Keeping the structure so simple and following the exact same format as the tv show made it feel familiar and comforting for all the tots in the audience. Whom for many this would have been their very first venture into theatre.
The audible gasps from the children the first time they saw each life-size character appear on stage were wonderful to hear. The audience were clearly enthralled by the magic of the live night garden experience as they saw their favourite television characters come to life.
Actors costumed like parts of the night garden foliage controlled the puppet versions of the characters and the Ninky Nonk (a train with a mind of its own). As well as moving the set to portray different parts of the garden. This all ran seamlessly and having humans on stage didn’t distract from the magic of the show.
The show reached it’s finale at around 50 minutes, with the pinky ponk (a psychedelic airship) launching off stage and flying over the audience’s heads in a quite spectacular fashion. Finally, the characters danced on the bandstand and then went to bed, just as they do in the tv programme.
It was simple, it was sweet, it was the perfect introduction to theatre for toddlers.
In the Night Garden Live is written by Helen Eastman (writer of Bing Live) and based on the Ragdoll television series created by Andrew Davenport. Directed by acclaimed Royal Ballet choreographer and director Will Tuckett, the show is produced by Minor Entertainment under licence from DHX Media.
Disclaimer: Helen and her daughter were provided with complimentary tickets to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and photos are her own and must not be duplicated.
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