Stick Man

Reviewed by Jodie Crawford

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Stick Man tells the tale of the wonderful Stick Man, who one morning goes for a jog (and at times a boogie ) where he suffers some significant misadventures!

Firstly, he is chased by a dog who mistakes him for a stick to play with. Then he is taken by an energetic young girl who fancies a game of Pooh sticks and thinks he might just be the best Pooh stick she has ever seen. Next, he loses his way and is swept out to sea, where he eventually washes up on a beach and is used as a bat for a game of bat and ball, but the final straw is when he is used to place a flag on top of a sandcastle!

We’re taken on a journey through the seasons, as he tries to find his way home, to his stick lady love and his stick children three.

This production is everything that is great about children’s theatre. It’s characters are wonderfully energetic and enthusiastic. The songs, simple and catchy.

I took my, normally fidgety, two year old. This was her first live theatre experience and I was nervous of how she would react, but I needn’t have worried. She sat silently mesmerised throughout the entire production; only letting out the occasional gasp of “wow” and joining in with the “he’s behind you” chorus from the audience.

Jordan Louis-Fernand (Stick Man) Alice Imelda (Stick Lady Love) and Jonathan Ainscough (Actor/Musician) play a variety of roles with great enthusiasm and provide us with some outstanding pieces of physical theatre. Their performances are warm and engaging for the younger audience. The scenes are diverse – ranging from the high energy of the dog chasing the stick, to the tranquility of the ocean waves and the hypnotic snow of winter.

The lighting, set and costume design work well together to provide us with a simple, but effective setting to this Julia Donaldson favourite.

This production takes us on a journey of laughter, heart warming moments and pure Christmas cheer. I’ve seen Stick Man three times now and this was by far my favourite production. It is a family must see this festive season.

Stick Man is on at The Lowry until Sunday 9th January tickets available here.

Accessible Performances

Relaxed | Thu 9 December | 1.30pm
Audio Described by Caroline Burn |  Sat 18 December 2pm | Touch Tour 1pm
BSL by Emma Jane Heap | Sun 19 December | 2pm

To book accessible tickets please call 0161 876 2183

What the Ladybird Heard

Reviewed by Demi Franks

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fresh from it’s sizzling summer stint in the West End, a stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks’ ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ classic children’s book is making its way across the country on an autumn tour.

“The Ladybird said never a word, but the Ladybird saw and the Ladybird heard…” So when burglars plot to seal the prize cow, little do they know the Ladybird is about to save the day…

It was so lovely to see the Lowry Theatre in Salford ‘buzzing’ this Sunday morning with lots of little, excitable (children dressed up as Ladybirds), coming to see what could possibly be their first ever theatrical experience.

At first thought you’d be right to think, how could this sweet (but very small) children’s book be turned into a 55-minute musical play? Well, with director Graham Hubbard at the helm, the team here have successfully adapted this much loved story into a well-imagined, perfectly-timed, warm-hearted, enchanting stage version.

Whilst Donaldon’s words have been developed and evolved for the stage, with the addition of music and lyrics and a few other surprises along the way, the familiarity of the original story still remains at the heart of this theatrical version. Indeed, after working closely in the developmental stages with the creative team, illustrator, Lydia Monks’ pictures appear to have been transported straight from ‘page to stage,’ which as a result has enabled Bek Palmer to create a versatile and beautifully enticing set, which hugely aids in the cleverly, creative unraveling of the story, just like the book. Whilst simultaneously enabling the audience, both adult and children alike, to feel instantly comfortable and at home as they take their seats for this classic tale’s debut tour.

Musically, Fiber and Shaw have created some ‘Jolly Good Tunes’ that come as a welcome addition with this stage version and really helps engage the young audience’s imagination, facilitating the right level of audience participation, with some singing and bopping along the way too!

One of the most delightful and endearing moments of the piece occurs when the cast come together through song to assemble the well known animals of the story using only the materials on the farm. Here we see the full concept of this smart and innovative piece in full flow, as a sheep is created out of a wheelbarrow, a dog is born using a big sweeping brush and a horse erected from an old bicycle; all of which become fully formed, re-occuring personalities throughout the play and add a rather lovely artistic dynamic.

Special kudos to this small yet talented cast who individually act, sing and jig around the space, all whilst playing a musical instrument or two and with the unwavering amount of energy a piece like this requires (especially at 11am on a Sunday morning to a busy, rustling and wriggly young auditorium), which is no mean feat in itself!

This is a tight ensemble who bring a great sense of warmth and drive to the narrative throughout the duration on the performance.

Although advertised for age 3+, my two and a half year old niece was fully engaged in the storytelling and thoroughly enjoyed herself. This stage version of the classic tale, has the perfect amount of humour, heart and imagination for young ‘theatre first-timers,’ toddlers and little ones alike.

‘Mooo’-ve quick and ‘baa’ sure to catch ‘What the Ladybird heard’ in a theatre near you!

You can find tickets and more information here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stick Man Live

Stick Man 1

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Writer Julia Donaldson has created a firm family favourite in Stickman: the book has brought happiness and joy to families all over the world. So with Scamp Theatre bringing a live stage show to the Lowry this Christmas this will undoubtedly be one of the must see events of the festive season.

Stickman is a simple, but captivating story: Stickman leaves his Stick Lady Love and their three stick children at home whilst he goes for a morning stroll.  Unfortunately, on his jog he encounters a rather boisterous dog who takes a shine to our little wooden friend. Poor Stickman is thrust into an unwanted adventure involving adults, children and animals: whilst also taking him to the beach, the bottom of the sea and for an unforgettable sleigh ride with St Nicholas! Will Stickman make it back to his beloved family and their family tree?

Stick Man

This production is fantastic: a great blend of storytelling, catchy songs, puppetry and humour. The music by Benji Bower and musical direction from Alex Higgins is unique and ‘off the wall’, perfect for the show. The three actors work their socks off throughout playing all the various characters and different musical instruments. They are brilliant and certainly know how to get the best out the audience. All three have a tremendous gift for physical comedy.

The other star of this show is the audience, there is plenty of audience participation involved in this performance and children and adults alike firmly got into the swing of things.

Stick Man 3

The show is completed by a magical set design by Katie Sykes, which brings to life Stickman’s world: we are transported from a winter wonderland to under the sea, from the beach to Santa’s sleigh.

This is the perfect Christmas show, fun, engaging, full of energy and dollops of Christmas spirit. It is a treat for the whole family.

Stickman is at the Lowry until 6th January, tickets available here.

The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo 2

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tall Stories Theatre Company arrived at the Lowry’s Quay’s theatre this week for their month long run of the glorious Gruffalo.

This beautiful musical adaptation Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler classic picture book brings the animals of the deep, dark wood to life as we follow mouse (Lauren Scott-Berry) on her search for hazelnuts, during her journey through the woods mouse meets a mixture of woodland folk (all played wonderfully by Alastair Chisholm) including a cunning Fox, a supposed wise old Owl and a hilariously hypnotic Snake. All fancy a little bit of mouse for dinner but the clever little creature outwits them with the threat of the Gruffalo (Aaron Millard), but we all know there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo is there?

The Gruffalo 1

Tall Stories which was founded in 1997 by joint artistic directors Olivia Jacobs and TobyMitchell have excelled in translating this children’s classic from page to stage, each and every child in the audience entirely captivated from start to finish. The tree actors work together beautifully as they enchant the young audience, characters are differentiated through a variety of voices, movements and simple but very effective costumes. The short book has been perfectly padded out to ensure an hour of quality entertainment including a dancing snake, a bossy old owl and if you’re lucky you may even get the Gruffalo sat beside you!

Gruffalo 1

The delight on the children’s faces for the entirety of the show is worth the tickets price alone, with wonderful audience interaction, a charmingly authentic set, sweet and simple songs the Gruffalo is the perfect family festive treat!

On at the Lowry until Sunday 7th January tickets available here.

Stick Man

Stick 3

“Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, that’s me.”

Most likely most people who have or know young children will be familiar with the heart-warming and witty work of Julia Donaldson and her illustrator Alex Scheffler (The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom)

One of the duo’s most popular works, Stick Man – the 2008 tale of a good natured wooden fellow separated from his home and family (which will be extra familiar to many thanks to the recent hit Christmas TV version) – has been brought alive on stage by Scamp Theatre, and is back at the Lowry this weekend.

For anyone yet to experience the bittersweet tale of Stickman, it centres around our eponymous hero who lives in his Family’s tree with his “stick lady love and his stick children three.”

Stick 2

Upon waking early one morning, Stick Man goes for a jog, before being caught up in a serious of misadventures involving dogs, swans, children and the elements, which serve only to take him further from home.

“Will I ever get back to the family tree?” He wonders? (If only he’d hit the snooze button instead! 

The wonderfully inventive production sees three talented performers play all the roles, along with a mixture of puppets and props – everything from wellies to umbrellas, beach balls and rolls of cardboard are pressed into action to tell the tale on stage.

Christopher Currie brings a nice sense of bewilderment and frustration to the title role, while Euan Wilson and Kate Maylon have great fun bringing all the other characters to life. All three give a masterclass in physical and vocal comedy.

Stick 1

There’s live music and clever sound effects, and some witty and seriously catchy songs too – the opening number in particular is a total ear worm that I’m confident will be in my head for days.

Absolutely not a panto, there’s still a bit of audience participation and forays into the auditorium by the cast.

And there’s just the right amount of peril without being too worrying for little ones – my almost three year old Godson did slide off his booster seat and onto my lap when Stick Man was caught up in the choppy ocean, but that was as scary as things got.

And being the only one of Donaldson and Scheffler’s tales that is set at Christmas, complete with a scene stealing cameo from the big red man himself, the production has a gloriously festive feel, 

“Again” was the immediate verdict from my little reviewer, as the lights went up in the Quays Theatre.

This really is a beautiful and thoughtful piece of children’s theatre, which treats both the much-loved source material, and young audiences, with the respect they deserve.

For further tour dates head to http://www.scamptheatre.com

 

 

 

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.

www.thelowry.com