Special children's performances are a great way to introduce your kids to the magic of theatre and live music, without the stress of tuts and disapproving looks from other audience members if your kid decides halfway through that they need the loo, or they insist on rustling their jelly baby bag at just the wrong moment.
Last weekend we took Ruby to her first ballet, and her first folk show. It was a lot to cram into two days, but the whole experience was fabulous and she's been talking about it ever since.
On Saturday, we attended the English National Ballet's performance of My First Cinderella at the Waterside in Aylesbury. It's a fantastic venue, and Ruby was in awe at the vastness of the auditorium. The front of house area is bright and area, with plenty of space to accommodate the throng of little princesses and Prince Charmings who'd gathered excitedly.
Ruby too of course, dressed for the occasion and I'm relieved to say she didn't look out of place!
Cinderella is the popular rags-to-riches and good-over-evil fairy tale that most young children will already be familiar with. But to help the younger audience follow the story there is excellent on-stage narration along with some gentle audience interaction - not too much to make it pantomimey.
The score by Prokofiev is spellbinding and captivating and I think was Ruby's first experience of classical music too.
She was totally entranced by the young adult dancers - all promising graduation dancers from the English National Ballet School.
|photo credit David Jensen|
Each routine or solo performance was just the right length to hold the young audience's attention, and even though the story differed a little from the traditional tale, there was never a moment when Ruby couldn't follow it.
|Image credit: David Jensen|
The sets were stunning as were the costumes. Ruby doesn't do ballet classes, but she still thoroughly enjoyed it and there were quite a few little boys who'd gone along (and didn't look like they were reluctant siblings accompanying their sisters!) It was a magical experience and as they are still touring until the end of May I'd urge you to go and see it if it's in your area. There are still performance on in Bromley; Oxford; Crawley; Manchester and Richmond and all the details are on the website.
On Sunday, we headed off to The Junction at Cambridge to catch Megson on their live tour. We're already big fans of their album When I was a Lad so we were really looking forward to it.
The show is 'family friendly' which means it can be enjoyed from babyhood upwards, and in fact there was a huge age range in attendance.
The children were actively encouraged to get out of their seats and dance up the front, and even the shy ones seemed to instantly lose their inhibitions the moment the bubble machines came on.
It's clear that Debbie and Stu have a child of their own (in fact little Lola was there at this show, catching her Mum and Dad play live for the first time). They knew exactly how to interact with the children, and had them giggling, joining in and dancing along from beginning to end.
They took the time to introduce the songs and explain what they were about for those that didn't already know them, and also described what instruments they were using.
All the children (and parents) seemed to be having a fabulous time, and the music was toe-tappingly contagious. The performance itself was just under an hour, and I suppose for the majority of the audience who were pre-school age, this was about right. But I was left wanting more, and to be honest I wanted it to carry on for longer.
This is the perfect way to introduce your little ones to live music, and Megson were just so sweet, happy to chat afterwards and pose for photos or autograph copies of their CDs. There is another show planned on 15th June at Kettering, but keep your eye on their Facebook page for updates and announcements.
Disclosure: We received press passes for both the shows but all views and opinions are my own.