Thursday, 15 March 2018

Dates for your Diary - UK Tour of The Jungle Book is heading to the Lowry on the 2nd-6th May 2018

Children's Touring Partnership and Royal & Derngate, Northampton are delighted to bring their new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's family classic The Jungle Book to The Lowry from Tuesday 2nd to Sunday 6th May.

Originally written in 1894, Kipling's beloved tale will be re-imagined with a brand new score and script, exploring the universal themes of family, belonging and identity.

The Jungle Book tells of Mowgli the man cub who battles for survival in this heart-warming coming-of-age story about a boy raised by wolves in the jungle. With the help of his animal friends, including Bagheera the panther, Balloo the Bear and Kaa the python, Mowgli outwits the cruel and powerful tiger, Shere Khan, and learns the law of the jungle.

Cast includes Rachel Dawson as 'Kaa Grey', Lloyd Gorman as 'Shere Khan', TJ Holmes as 'Hiran', Avita Jay as 'Raksha', Keziah Joseph as 'Mowgli' Dyfrig Morris as 'Balloo', Deborah Oyelade as 'Bagheera' and Tripti Tripuraneni as 'Akala'. They are joined by Ruri James and Chipo Kureya in the ensemble.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
The award winning creative team bringing Kipling's timeless story to the stage includes playwright Jessica Swale, director Max Webster and internationally renowned songwriter Joe Stilgoe.

Playwright Jessica Swale has adapted the story for stage. Her previous acclaimed play "Nell Gwyn" won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2016.

Max Webster directed Dr Seuss' "The Lorax" at the Old Vic, which was nominated for Best Entertainment and Family Show at the 2016 Olivier Awards.

Jessica Swale, writer, said "I jumped at the chance to adapt The Jungle Book because it's such a vivid world - yet, for a writer, there's so much opportunity to imagine the jungle afresh. Part of the book's enduring appeal is that the jungle can be anything we choose. It's a playground, a school, a hideaway, an adventure, so I've enjoyed exploring what sort of place this mysterious, delightful, sometimes scary place might be - and what better way to do that than with Max Webster, one of the most inventive and imaginative directors working today."

"I loved the characters as Kipling wrote them, but wanted to find new voices which resonate now - funny, bright, dynamic voices, with a little more wit, and greater diversity, in terms of place, tone, gender and culture. It's a funny, heart-filled roller coaster of a journey which, I hope, will transport the audience right round the world and back again."

Director, Max Webster, said "The Jungle Book was an instant classic when it was written over a hundred years ago with its story of Mowgli finding his path through the jungle. Each generation has re-imagined this story as their own, and now Jess Swale brings it right up to date in a hilarious and action-packed version for the twenty first century. With wonderful songs by the jazz legend Joe Stilgoe, and packed with adventure, humour and magic this classic tale will tickle the tales of all the family. I am delighted to be working alongside Jessica, Joe, Children's Touring Partnership and Royal and Derngate to bring this vivid adaptation to the stage".

Completing the creative team is set and costume designer Peter McKintosh, musical supervision and orchestration from Paul Herbert, choreography by Lizzi Gee, lighting design by Charles Balfour, puppetry design and direction by Nick Barnes, flight direction by Kate Waters and sound design by Matt McKenzie.

Children's Touring Partnership is led by Fiery Angel and Chichester Festival Theatre. Previous productions include the award winning West End and UK tour production of Goodnight Mister Tom and most recently the UK touring production of Michael Morpurgo's Running Wild.

The show is recommended as being suitable for ages 6+.

Listing Details

Show - The Jungle Book
Dates - Tuesday 2nd May til Sunday 6th May
Times - Times vary so please visit The Lowry website to obtain the most up to date information.
Venue - The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Box Office - 0843 208 6000

Tickets - £17.50 - £24.50

Running time - 2 hours 15 minutes including interval

Saturday, 10 March 2018

BAFTA-Winning CBeebies Duo Sarah & Duck - Live On Stage at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

The enchanting world of CBeebies' hit animated series Sarah & Duck will be brought to life on The Epstein Theatre stage this May in a brand new theatrical adventure.

Featuring a host of wonderful characters from the BAFTA award-winning TV show, Sarah & Duck's Big Top Birthday will play at the Hanover Street venue on Tuesday 8th May.

Presented by MEI Theatrical, in association with Polka Theatre, join Sarah and Duck, along with all their favourite friends including The Ribbon Sisters, The Shallots, Flamingo and Umbrella, as they plan a circus-themed birthday party for the Scarf Lady in their garden. But when the weather turns windy and the big top is blown away, will Sarah and Duck be able to save the day?

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith
Told through a fantastic blend of inventive puppetry, charming storytelling and toe-tapping music, and featuring all the familiar voices from the CBeebies series including Roger Allam as the narrator and Lesley Nichol as Scarf Lady, Sarah and Duck's Big Top Birthday will take families on a magical theatrical adventure.

Following the gentle adventures of a wide-eyed, 7-year-old girl and her feathered best friend, Sarah & Duck has been a huge hit since its debut in 2013, winning a BAFTA for 'Best Pre-School Animation' in 2014 and regularly appearing in CBeebies' Top Ten programmes for viewers aged 4-15. Now in its third series, it is shown in over 100 countries around the world.

Sarah and Duck's Big Top Birthday is written by Peter Glanville, artistic director of Polka Theatre, and Sarah Gomes Harris, co-creator of Sarah & Duck. It is directed by Roman Stefanski with set and puppet design by Laura McEwen. Sarah & Duck is a Karrot Entertainment production for CBeebies UK and BBC Worldwide.

The show is recommend for children aged 3-6.

Listing Details

Show - Sarah & Duck's Big Top Birthday
Dates - Tuesday 8th May
Times - 1pm & 3pm
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ

Tickets - Standard £14.50 / Child £12.50 / Family £50

To book tickets please call the Box Office on 0844 888 4411* or visit the website at* Alternatively tickets can also be booked in person at the theatre box office (open 2pm-6pm Mon-Thu & 12pm-6pm Fri-Sat).

*Subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Friday, 9 March 2018

A Family Day Out at Crealy Adventure Park, Devon

It can sometimes be hard to find some fun places to visit during the February Half Term. The weather is often cold and miserable and many larger attractions are closed until April, when the temperatures begin to improve. I was therefore really pleased to find out that Crealy Adventure Park in Devon, would be open during the school holidays, so we could go and enjoy some family fun and adventure, whilst also exploring somewhere new.

The attraction was well signposted from the main roads and it was very easy to find. We arrived shortly after opening time and had to wait in a short queue of cars to get into the car park, but everything seemed well organised and the traffic was guided through quickly with the help of some car park attendants.

After leaving our vehicle, we made our short walk over the entrance, where we collected our tickets using the self service computers. I noticed that there were also some staffed ticket desks for anyone that would rather collect them or purchase tickets in person. We found the computer system very simple though and within minutes of our tickets being printed, we made our way through the turnstiles and into the park.

First impressions were that everything was spread out well, with numerous rides and attractions for all ages. There was plenty of open space and everything seemed well maintained and tidy. Emma and Ben noticed the pirate ship straight away so headed over to the queue to wait their turn. Within a few minutes they were enjoying their first ride with big smiles on their faces. Next it was Riley's turn to pick a ride and he spotted a beautiful carousel in the distance that he wanted us all to go on.

As we approached the carousel, we could see many other customers enjoying themselves. It soon became apparent that this wasn't just because of the carousel, but more the ride attendant who was operating it. The young gentleman on this ride was named Jordan and I don't often single out individual members of staff, but he definitely deserves a mention. His positive energy, friendly personality and determination to ensure that all customers have a great time, was fantastic to see. We have visited many places where staff can sit there looking bored, but Jordan clearly enjoys his job and the kids all seemed to love him. Well done Jordan!

Once we had finished on the carousel, we were joined by Nana and Grandad, who had decided to come along for the day to spend time with their grandchildren. My dad has walking difficulties at times, but we found the paths to be very even, well maintained and there wasn't too far to walk between areas. There was also plenty of seating all around the park which made taking a rest easy.

Next we visited the Driving School area, which was very popular. Despite it being busy we only had a ten minute wait and both Riley and Ben enjoyed driving around the miniature roads, complete with road signs and roundabouts. I was a bit worried at first, thinking that Riley wouldn't be able to control his vehicle well enough, but he actually managed perfectly fine and felt very grown up. This was his favourite attraction at the park and we returned to the cars, several times throughout the day.

The rain began to fall and it suddenly became very cold, so we decided to go and grab a coffee and let the kids burn off some energy in Buddy Bears Kingdom. This was a huge indoor play area with so much for little ones to do. There was also plenty of seating, hot food available for purchase, as well as a Lavazza Coffee Shop. We decided to buy some coffees to warm ourselves up, they were really nice, although the service was quite slow. This caused quite a lengthy wait between ordering our coffee and then receiving it at the collection point. It wasn't a major problem though as the children spent a good hour in there having fun, so the delay didn't cause us any issues and I am always mindful that the staff could have been new and just getting into the swing of things.

Once the rain had passed, we were all keen to get back outside and enjoy the other rides on offer. Riley insisted on a quick stop at this lovely clean park on the way though and I can't blame him. It was lovely to see a play area that was so clean and modern.

Next to the Driving School was the Dino Jeeps where we could explore the Jurassic Jungle and see what dinosaurs we could spot. Both my boys loved this ride and kept shouting out the names of any dinosaurs that they recognised. It was a fun little ride that parents could enjoy too, so I sat safely in the back whilst Riley pretended to be the driver.

All the children then requested to go back to the big Gorilla that we had seen earlier in the day. There had been a few people getting their photo take on it in the morning, so Riley was eager to return so we could get a picture too. Whilst here, we also spotted that there was hardly any queue for the neighbouring Safari Express, so the whole family including Nana and Grandad enjoyed a nice train ride around the animal statues. Riley's favourite was the giraffe that stood very tall!

It wasn't long before the rain set in again, so we decided to have a look around Croc Creek and the Animal Barn. All of my children absolutely love animals, so it is always nice to get the opportunity to get up close to some exotic creatures and feed some friendly farm animals. There was a very cheeky goat that kept trying to chew Riley's coat, but he found this hilarious!

Nana and Grandad had started to get a bit hungry, so once we had finished visiting all the animals we made our way over to the Adventurer's Food Court and Bar. To be honest I wasn't expecting the food to be that great, however Grandad purchased a hot pork baguette with potato lattices and it was absolutely delicious. The children began to starting pinching the spicy potato snacks though, so we ended up purchasing a portion each for them. They weren't cheap, however the portion was a good size and it was something my children really enjoyed. Despite being very busy inside the food court, the service was very quick and there were plenty of places to sit.

After enjoying our food, we gave the children a few pounds each to spend in the Adventure Zone arcade area. My children love trying to win the cheap prizes on the 2p machines, so they spent a bit of money each trying to win a whistle and some keyrings. We didn't spend too long in here as it didn't take long for the kids to use up their money, so we made our way back to the other side of the park, so that Ben could enjoy a ride on the Go-Karts at the Crealy Grand Prix.

The Crealy Grand Prix carried an additional charge of £4 for a single kart and £5 for a double kart. The single karts weren't running that day, so my husband agreed (with very little persuasion) to be the driver of a double kart with Ben as the passenger. Personally I think he enjoyed it even more than Ben, as he did his best Lewis Hamilton impression around the racetrack, moving from 5th to 1st as they sped round.

We went on a few more rides, finishing off with the Maximus Rollercoaster, which was my daughter's favourite ride of the day.

Of course no trip to an attraction is complete, without a visit to the gift shop! Unlike other attractions where you are forced to make your way through the shop on exit, Crealy Adventure Park does not impose that on you and instead it stands separately, making any shopping trip entirely optional. My children had some pocket money they wanted to spend though so knowing their limits, I was more than happy for them to take a look around.

We found the shop to be well stocked, with plenty of items to choose from that suited all budgets. There was a range of pocket money priced toys, clearance products and some more expensive merchandise, but in general I though that the prices were reasonable.

Overall we had a fantastic time and despite the water attractions being closed (completely understandable in Winter), there was still plenty to see and do. We found the whole park to be laid out very well and found all staff that we came across both friendly and polite. The huge indoor play areas gave us a nice break from the cold outside and it also gave us the opportunity to enjoy a hot drink. My children loved the indoor areas just as much as the outside and it was great for them to be able to have the choice, making it an excellent all weather attraction. We would definitely return and hope to visit again in the summer months. Would we recommend Crealy Adventure Park?......Absolutely!

Attraction Details

Address: Crealy Adventure Park & Resort, Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Devon, EX5 1DR
Telephone: 01395 233200
Facebook: @CrealyResort
Twitter: @CrealyResort
Instagram: @CrealyResort

Opening times: Opening times vary throughout the year, so please visit the Crealy Adventure Park website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Ticket prices: Prices vary so please visit the Crealy Adventure Park website to obtain the most up to date information. There are sometimes savings to be made by booking online as opposed to paying on the gate, so it is worth checking the website for any online discount that may be available.

Disclaimer: We were provided with a complimentary family ticket for the purpose of writing this review. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. 

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Dates for your Diary - The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout on 6th April 2018

Homelessness is something that my children have often asked me about, as it can be very upsetting to see people both young and old sleeping out on the streets. With the recent cold weather that we have had, it is something we have been thinking about a lot. I was therefore very interested to learn more about The Whitechapel Centre after they recently approached me with information regarding The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout.

Recognising that many people want to help those they see sleeping on the streets or without a home, Liverpool Cathedral has joined forces with Liverpool's leading homeless charity, The Whitechapel Centre. Together they have created the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout, which will be taking place on the 6th April 2018.

The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout is a fun and friendly event open to people of all ages. It is a rare opportunity to spend the night sleeping inside the country's biggest cathedral and raise money for the local community at the same time. While it won't be like being on the streets, both The Whitechapel Centre and the Cathedral hope it will help people to understand how difficult it might be, when you don't have a place to go.

Ruth McCaughley, Fundraising Manager of The Whitehchapel Centre, said:

"The Whitechapel Centre's vision is to see an end to homelessness, social exclusion and housing poverty in Liverpool. We can only do this by working in partnership with organisations like Liverpool Cathedral. There are many different complex reasons why someone can be homeless and we help people address these problems as well as finding suitable accommodation.

The Whitechapel Centre opens it's doors every day of the year - supporting people to find suitable accommodation, managing their finances, building relationships with landlords, looking after their health and their home, plus linking with the local community, so that every individual can reach their potential. The money raised from the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout will help The Whitechapel Centre move closer to this vision."

Paul Smith, Liverpool Cathedral's Director of Enterprise added: "Not only does our Cathedral dominate the city skyline, it is core to the city's life. We welcome people from all backgrounds and our events are one of the ways we engage with the Liverpool-wide community and beyond.

We are very pleased to host this event which will provide vital funds for both ourselves and The Whitechapel Centre.

By raising money in innovative and thought-provoking ways we can continue to fund essential work and maintain our position in the life of the city."

The two charities are particularly hoping to encourage children and young people to get involved. Ruth said "We know that many children and young people are concerned about the rise in homelessness and rough sleeping in Liverpool and want to help. The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout  gives them the opportunity to experience the sense of vulnerability that you would feel when not in your own bed, within the safety of the Cathedral."

The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout is on Friday 6th April at Liverpool Cathedral. It costs £5.00 per person to register and you will also need to raise £50.00. All funds raised will be split equally between the two charities. Children are encouraged to take part, but they will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult. For safeguarding purposes, a maximum of five children can accompany one adult for this Sleepout.

To register for the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout, please visit

Friday, 2 March 2018

Dates for your Diary - LHK Youth Theatre present A Night of Musicals at The Epstein Theatre on 11th-12th March

LHK Youth Theatre are back at The Epstein Theatre next week with A Night of Musicals on Sunday 11th and Monday the 12th of March.

The talented young stars from Liverpool's renowned youth theatre company are bringing to life all the hits from some of the biggest musicals around including Shrek and Mamma Mia, in a show that promises to be a fantastic production for the whole family. Become a Dancing Queen for the night and sing, dance and laugh along to what will be an incredible performance by this highly talented cast.

Be sure to catch some of the best young talent around as these stars in the making perform a selection of the greatest and most loved musical numbers.

LHK Youth Theatre is run by LHK Productions - one of the most acclaimed and unique theatre and pantomime production companies in the UK.

Formed in 2005, LHK Productions has quickly put its stamp on the UK's theatre scene hosting countless shows in some of the biggest and most prestigious venues in the country.

LHK Productions Managing Director, Lee Kelly said: "All of the cast have been working incredibly hard on this production. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them, and they should be proud of themselves for everything they have accomplished. They are all superstars and when the show opens next week I am sure audiences of Liverpool will agree!"

A Night of Musicals comes to The Epstein Theatre on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th March and tickets are on sale now.

Listing Details

Show - A Night of Musicals
Dates - Sunday 11th March & Monday 12th March
Times - 7:30pm
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ

Tickets - Standard £16 / Concessions £15

*Subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy.

Box Office - 0844 888 4411
Website -

Tickets can also be booked in person at the theatre box office (open 2pm-6pm Mon-Thu & 12pm-6pm Fri-Sat)