The Tiger Who Came to Tea


Judith Kerr’s children’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea has been delighting youngsters since it was first published in 1968 and now the story has been brought to life on stage. Following a successful West End season the Olivier Award nominated production is on a UK tour providing a summer holiday treat for families up and down the country.

The three strong cast, who look like they have just popped out of the storybook itself, ignite the excitement of the mini theatre goers from the start by walking down the aisles past them waving and saying ‘hello’ before taking their places on stage. Children in the audience from age 3 upwards were totally mesmerised by Mummy (Ashley Tucker), Daddy (Harry Howle) and their little girl Sophie (Abby Norman) as they re-enacted the tale of The Tiger Who Came to Tea complete with a number of jolly sing-along songs.

Adapted and directed by David Wood this production doesn’t disappoint the small fans of the book, who have either read it with parents or at school, and at 55 minutes long (without interval) it’s just enough time to keep them all engaged.


The energy levels are at a maximum from the cast and they are rewarded with squeals of glee from the youngsters for their performances. The show stealer of course has to be the Tiger (also played by Harry Howle) and the excitement definitely goes up a number of levels when he sets his paws on stage. The Tiger is naughty, funny, cuddly AND he wiggles his bum when he dances – who could not love him!


Great fun for all the family this tale of teatime mayhem is a sure fire hit with kids and adults alike. I defy you not to come out of there smiling!

Runs at The Lowry until 30TH July.


Mini Reviewer’s Verdict – Daisy aged (just) 7

Daisy Reviewer

My favourite bit was when the Tiger ate all the food and my favourite song was the ‘sausage, chips and ice cream’! I would recommend the show as it was very good and so funny, all the other children loved it too. I think people aged 5 to 8 years old should watch it as it is so enjoyable to shout out and join in the action. At the end of the show I was sad because it was over but then the Tiger came back out and made me laugh again.




Justin’s Party


There’s hardly a parent or grandparent in the UK who doesn’t know the name Justin Fletcher. He’s been on CBeebies screens for around 10 years in a number of shows, including Gigglebiz, Something Special and Justin’s House, all of which have been a big hit with children. Now Justin is taking to the stage with his UK tour of Justin’s Party and it’s proving to be a sell-out. The show reached Salford’s Lowry Theatre on Mother’s Day, providing two packed out shows full of toddlers and young children bubbling with excitement as they waited for the main man to make his appearance.

When he did the atmosphere was electric, Justin can do no wrong and fizzes with energy as he sings, dances and generally entertains the transfixed ‘mini’ theatregoers. He’s not alone in the show though, like every good party he has invited his friends; an ensemble of lively and colourfully dressed performers along with CBeebies favourite Cat Sandion. The premise for the ‘party’ is to celebrate the arrival of Justin’s new puppy Engelbert – cue a number of kids singalong classics, the Hokey Cokey, Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes and If You Are Happy And You Know It.


During the 1 hour 40 minutes there’s confetti cannons galore, a hilarious scene where the icing of Engelbert’s giant cake gets messy (much to the squeals of delight from the children) plus a surprise visit from one of Justin’s most famous characters, Mr Tumble!


Justin’s Party is delicious fun from start to finish and will leave children in a state of hyper that no amount of e numbers could come close to. A brilliant show and well recommended for families everywhere.


Babe, The Sheep-Pig


It’s almost time to meet the lovable Babe in a heart-warming tale of friendship, adventure and bravery. Adapted from Dick King-Smith’s much-loved children’s novel which inspired the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Babe, The Sheep-Pig will be brought to life on stage in an enchanting new production. Featuring stunning puppetry, an original score and an utterly charming ‘baa-ber sheep’ quartet, Babe and the residents of Hogget’s Farm will visit The Lowry from Tue 11 to Sat 15 April as part of a major UK Tour.


When Babe arrives at Hogget’s Farm he is taken in by the trusty sheep-dog Fly, and soon discovers a talent for herding. With the help of his adopted Mum, the polite piglet soon wins over the most suspicious of sheep. But can a small pig make it in a dog’s world, and when his farmyard friends are in trouble can Babe save the day?

Babe, The Sheep-Pig is adapted for the stage by Olivier Award-winning playwright David Wood OBE, who is best known for his adaptations of classic family titles including Goodnight Mister Tom, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. It is directed by Michael Fentiman, whose productions include The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus (RSC), and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Kensington Gardens) which he co-directed with Rupert Goold.


The residents of Hogget’s Farm will be brought to life by beautiful hand-crafted puppets, created by award-winning puppet designer Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, with the ensemble cast delivering masterful puppetry by puppetry director Matthew Forbes (Associate Director in Puppetry & Movement, War Horse).

Book your tickets now for this delightful adventure for all the family, on at The Lowry from Tues 11th – Saturday 15th April.





Cinderella at The Bolton Octagon

photo credit: Richard Davenport

Hats off to the Bolton Octagon for always trying to push the boundaries when it comes to their Christmas shows. From Alice in Wonderland to last year’s BFG the northern theatre has shunned the traditional panto and instead presented their audiences with contemporary productions to delight them over the festive season. You’d be forgiven for thinking they had changed tact this year with Cinderella being their production of choice for 2016 but, as ever with the Octagon, it has a clever twist!

Told through the eyes of five charismatic rats;  Whiskers (Alexander Bean), Claws (Alicia McKenzie), Teeth (Anne O’Riordan), Tail (Felicity Sparks) and Ears (Tomas Wolstenholme) this is a modern day version of the fairy-tale classic, jam-packed with live music and audience participation.


photo credit: Richard Davenport

The show starts with the rats lamenting over the fact that Cinderella has left them to go and live a new life at the Palace. One by one the energetic rodents don costumes to take on different roles and explain just how Cinders went from rags to riches.

All five actors excel at creating some well-rounded characters but the leader of the pack has to be Anne O’Riordan who puts in a sparkling performance as Teeth. ‘Pocket rocket’ O’Riordan is delightful as she exudes cheekiness and has both the children and adults laughing along at her facial expressions and ‘dodgy’ dancing.

The cast of six is completed by Lucy Faint as Cinderella whose northern accent brings a down to earth charm to the role and she manages to make her both vulnerable and straight-talking. There’s some great moments when Faint journeys into the audience sitting next to them to sing a song, making the children’s jaws drop as a result.


photo credit: Richard Davenport

Don’t be fooled by Ellen Nabarro’s set design, (which at first glance looks like a cluttered space filled with a centrepiece of musical instruments from piano to xylophone), everything used to dress the stage cleverly doubles up as a prop or a costume and can be returned back to the set when it’s finished with. The lighting is one of the true stars of this production though as the stage transforms into a magical space filled with hundreds of lightbulbs, topped off by a huge glitterball hanging from the ceiling and even lights in Cinders ballgown!


photo credit: Richard Davenport

If you are looking for something a bit different this Christmas then look no further, the Bolton Octagon’s blown the cobwebs off an old fashioned fairy-tale and produced a great offering for all the family.

Cinderella runs at the Bolton Octagon until 14th January 2017





George’s Marvellous Medicine


Photo by Mark Douet

Since 1992 The Birmingham Stage Company have produced more Dahl shows than any other company in the world. Their recent hit shows have included Horrible Histories and the world premiere of Gangsta Granny by David Walliams. Now the company brings George’s Marvellous Medicine to audiences across the UK, stopping at Manchester’s Opera house for 5 dates, running until 19th November.

Olivier award-winning David Wood’s adaptation of this Ronald Dahl classic is perfect in every way, ensuring fans of the original book are not disappointed and children can happily join in reciting the many humorous lines at every stage of the production. Dubbed the ‘National children’s dramatist’ by The Times it is clear that the task of bringing Dahl’s eccentric characters to life is in very safe hands with Woods.

The story centres around likable lad George, played energetically here by Ed Thorpe, and his desire to turn his grumpy and mean Grandma into a much lovelier relative who treats him with love and showers him in kindness. There are some hilarious dream sequences which bring George’s inner thoughts to life and even see Grandma twerking!

Deborah Vale is Grandma and plays the role very much in the mould of 90s sitcom favourite Hyacinth Bucket. Not only is there a strong resemblance to Hyacinth but the likeness between George’s Mum and Grandma is uncanny until you realise it goes deeper than that – the actresses are actually identical twin sisters in real life – perfect casting!

The packed house of children and parents lap up the slapstick action as George is left alone to give Grandma her medicine and he systematically goes from room to room in the house filling a huge pan with crazy ingredients to replace it with his own special potion.

“Grandma, if you only knew what George has in store for you” is met with screams of delight and derision.


Photo by Mark Douet


Grandma’s transformation is worth the price of a ticket alone as she gulps down George’s marvellous medicine and grows 30 foot tall in the blink of an eye. The children in the audience are amazed and enthralled at the sight, with wide eyes and open mouths as Grandma’s head crashes through the roof of the house. Hats off, or should we say roof’s off, to Jaqueline Trousdale who has designed a very clever set which enables the magic of this book to make an effortless transition from page to stage.

George’s Marvellous Medicine is everything a children’s show should be, with its eccentric humour and larger than life characters providing 90 minutes of non-stop entertainment for all the family.

George’s Marvellous Medicine runs at the Opera House, Manchester until Sat 19 Nov 


Stick Man

Scamp Theatre’s Stick Man – Live on Stage from Scamp Theatre on Vimeo.

If you know a little person say six years old or under then there’s no doubt you may have heard of a children’s book called the Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. In fact Julia has written a number of books for youngsters that have gone down a storm both in and out of the classroom. Stick Man is one of those well-loved tales and, like the Gruffalo before it, has also been made into an animation and now a stage play.

Packing out the Quays Theatre at The Lowry, Salford during the October half-term Scamp Theatre and Freckle Production’s Stick Man is a delightful show from start to finish. With just three talented actors at the helm (Jennifer Greenwood, Robert Jackson and David Shute) it provides 60 minutes of non-stop family entertainment involving, song, dance and puppetry.

The story is a simple tale to tell, of Stick Man (yes, a man who is a stick), his Stick Lady Love and their three little stick children. When Stick Man goes out for a jog one day he ends up in a number of dangerous situations; he gets picked up by a dog; played with by a little girl and gets pecked at by a swan – all of which, for Stick Man, is pretty terrifying! His pleas of “I’m Stick Man that’s me and I long to be back in the family tree” are ignored as he is left stranded and alone, struggling to find his way home.

The majority of the show is sung, accompanied by music and sound effects which bring Stick Man’s story to life. Combined with this the actor’s physical movements and miming are used to full effect to really engage with the children’s imagination, managing to create an array of characters with minimal costumes and props. There’s audience participation a plenty as the cast run out into the audience creating a panto-style chase that has the kid’s joyous voices crying out in unison ‘He’s behind you’ plus there’s even a game of bat and ball to get everyone involved.

As a child of the 80’s the talented Stick Man trio of Robert, Jennifer and David reminded me of a Rod, Jane and Freddy for today (without the mad perms and bad dress sense and with 100 times more talent and panache). The kids loved them, the adults adored them too and by the end they made sure everyone had fallen in love with Stick Man and his family.

Stick Man runs at The Lowry until 30th October. Performances at 11am, 2pm and 4pm daily.