Sunday, 19 December 2021

The Snowman including We're Going on a Bear Hunt at Chester Cathedral - A Review

Yesterday we visited the beautiful Chester Cathedral to watch The Snowman Tour including We're Going on a Bear Hunt. We have enjoyed this spectacular performance for several years now and it has become a firm favourite in our family. It has definitely secured its place amongst our treasured festive traditions and my son Riley couldn't wait to watch the show again once more, along with being able to enjoy one of his favourite bedtime stories in animated form. 

The show began with a welcome from Santa who initiated a roll call of the orchestra members. As each section was called such as Woodwind or Brass, the musicians would play a short piece of music to introduce themselves. I felt that this was a great idea for the younger members of the audience in order to help them understand the different instruments that made up the orchestra, as well as making them aware of their associated sounds. 

© Snowman Enterprises Limited / © Bear Hunt Films Limited MMXVI

Once Santa had finished his Zoom Face call, the first animated piece of the performance appeared upon the screen - the wonderful story of We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. The animation lasted approximately 25 minutes and told the story of a family who embark on an adventure to find a bear, whilst meeting various challenges along the way. I have read the story to my son numerous times over the years, so he was really excited to see it presented in an animation.

Following this, we were treated to the Snowman Waltz, which saw a lively Snowman walk around the Cathedral and wave to all the children. Riley really enjoyed this part and was really excited as he walked right in front of us. He enjoyed following his journey around the Cathedral and trying to spot whereabouts he was. It was great to hear all the exciteable laughter of the children in the audience.


As the Snowman character exited the main cathedral area, the lights dimmed once more and the audience fell silent again, as the moment we had all been waiting for commenced on the screen. From the moment the animation began, it felt truly magical, as The Snowman was brought to life upon the stage. I always try to make sure that I watch both the film and the orchestra at various intervals as I enjoy seeing the musicians perform, so I try and switch my focus between the two. I find that this really helps me to appreciate the music and the talented individuals on the stage.

When it came to the incredible song of We're Walking in the Air, I thought that the young soloist was absolutely superb with the most stunning of voices. My son was mesmerised as we watched him perform. I also felt that the conductor was marvellous in offering the soloist support throughout his performance with reassuring smiles and silently mouthing the words towards him just in case nerves got the better of him at any stage. I found this support quite heartwarming and I absolutely loved the encouragement on display.

Overall we had a really lovely time at Chester Cathedral watching The Snowman including We're Going on a Bear Hunt. It was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon together and the whole performance felt so Christmassy and special. I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere within the cathedral and I felt that the different parts of the show were presented well. The sound quality was excellent and we had no difficulty in hearing the different instruments and being able to focus on the various musical pieces. It was the perfect show to get us in the festive mood and we would absolutely recommend The Snowman Tour to families of all ages.

Image Credit © Gareth Widdowson

The full list of remaining tour dates can be found here - https://www.carrotproductions.com/snowman

If you would like to find out more about The Snowman Tour 2021 or about Carrot Productions, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.carrotproductions.com/

Facebook - facebook.com/carrotproductions

Twitter - @CarrotProd

Instagram - @carrot_productions

YouTube - CarrotProductions


*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Details provided in this post are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the production's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester at EventCity - A Review

My family and I enjoyed the perfect start to our week on Monday, with a trip to Silcock's Winter Wonderland at EventCity Manchester for their VIP Launch Night. This marvellous event has returned even bigger and better than before and we were so excited to visit this fabulous festive extravaganza once again. Featuring over 50 family rides and attractions all under one roof, as well as some wonderful shows to enjoy, it is a fantastic way to spend some fun family time together and we couldn't wait to have a look around and explore.

Our evening began with some launch night entertainment from some talented local dance groups, along with a young vocalist performing a small selection of songs. This performance ended with a fabulous rendition of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" which seemed to get everyone in the mood and excited to enter the Winter Wonderland doors as the crowd began a ten second countdown. As the curtains opened, snow began to fall as we made our way into the event.

We intended to head towards the back of venue to begin with, however we were stopped in our tracks by my youngest son deciding that he wanted to go on every single ride that we tried to walk past. The last time Winter Wonderland was in EventCity in 2017, he was only 4, so he couldn't really remember much about the event, or just how many rides there were to choose from. He was therefore delighted to find such a great choice and he began to have so much fun right from the start.

Photo Credit: Prakash Bhalsod

As well as classic favourites such as the Dodgems and the Waltzers, there were mini rollercoasters, a flying elephant ride and a mini carousel to name just a few. My son absolutely loved the Caterpillar rollercoaster and went on this several times with both myself and his big brother. When he decided he wanted a rest, we utilised that time by having a sit down and watching a show on the main stage. There were a few to choose from which included an Ice Princess Show as well as some entertainment featuring TV stars Daisy and Ollie. I really liked the fact that the main stage was central to so many rides, as this meant that I could let my teens go off and enjoy some of the larger and faster rides, knowing that it would be very easy for them to find us again when they were finished. 

There was also the chance to visit Father Christmas, however we decided not to queue for this and spent our time on the rides and shows instead. However, this seemed really popular with other guests and there is also the option of purchasing a toy and photo from the Father Christmas Toy Workshop. He is available for meet and greet sessions every day, up to and including Christmas Eve.

We hadn't eaten prior to arriving at the event, so it wasn't long before my children were hungry. There were a range of food vendors to choose from and although they were a little on the expensive side, it was on par with prices that we are used to at these kind of events. We purchased four burgers which set us back £24 and five drinks cost us a further £12.50 later in the evening. The food was really good quality though and tasty too, which made up for paying the slightly higher prices.

Photo Credit: Prakash Bhalsod

Another additional cost at the event is the games stalls, which varied in price. With having three children these stalls can get expensive if they each want a go, so I usually try to avoid these, but there was a ring toss game which was only £1, so I was quite happy to pay that and we each tried our luck. My eldest son got lucky and managed to win himself some candy floss as well as some sweets so he was really pleased with himself.

Overall we had a fantastic time at Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester and we are hoping to return with other family members in the coming weeks. There is plenty of free parking outside the venue and I feel that the ticket prices offer excellent value for money. We loved how many rides there were to choose from that catered for a range of different ages, which ensured that there was something for the whole family to enjoy. I also really liked the addition of the short shows on the main stage and the Circus which was also available to watch. I would absolutely recommend this event to others and we cannot wait to return again in the near future. 

To find out more or to book tickets please visit www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com or alternatively you can visit the following social media channels:

Facebook - facebook.com/winterwonderlandmanchester

Twitter - @wwmanchester

Instagram - @wwmanchester

Listing Details

Event - Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester

Venue - EventCity (next to Intu Trafford Centre), Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Urmston, Manchester, M41 7TB

Dates - 4th December 2021 to 2nd January 2022

Parking - Free parking available

Ticket Information

Off-Peak Tickets

Adult: £29.50 (plus booking fee)

Child: (3-16) £29.50 (plus booking fee)

OAP: £20.00 (plus booking fee)

Child (Under 3): Free (Ticket Required)

Family Ticket of 4 (must include at least 1 Adult) discount of £10 (plus booking fee).

Peak

Adult: £35.00 (plus booking fee)

Child: (3-16) £35.00 (plus booking fee)

OAP: £27.50 (plus booking fee)

Child (Under 3): Free (Ticket Required)

Family Ticket of 4 (must include at least 1 Adult) discount of £10 (plus booking fee).

Carers tickets go free with full paying adults.

Groups: 1 in 10 goes free (no booking fee)

School and nursery bookings: From 7-10 December and 13-17 December, tickets £15 each including booking fee.

Payment plans are available this year - see website for details.

Reduced £22.00 (plus booking fee) tickets are available for NHS and Armed Forces on certain dates, see website for details.

All rides and attractions are included in the price (excluding games and food stalls) and each session lasts for 4 hours.

Bookings can be made online at www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com or by ringing 0344 815 7131 for both individual and group bookings.


Photo Credit: Prakash Bhalsod

*Disclaimer - We were invited as guests to the VIP Launch Night for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own site in order to view the most up to date information.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Blackpool Grand Theatre - A Review

As a family we were absolutely delighted to be returning to the Grand Theatre in Blackpool last weekend to enjoy one of our favourite festive traditions, a Christmas Pantomime! Like many families we had to keep ourselves entertained at home last year and whilst we still had a lovely time, it definitely didn't compare to being amongst a theatre audience where you can sing and dance along, whilst also crying with laughter at the same time. 

Martin Dodd for UK Productions and in association with Blackpool Grand Theatre are proudly presenting their production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is running from the 3rd December 2021 through to the 2nd January 2022. 

It tells the tale of the beautiful Snow White (Ellie Green) who is treated terribly by her evil stepmother the Wicked Queen (Vicky Entwistle). In true fairytale style, Snow White falls in love with a handsome prince and manages to escape the clutches of the Wicked Queen, only to stumble into the dark forest where luckily she meets seven new adorable friends, who help to try and keep her safe from harm. Featuring a magic mirror, an eccentric Nurse Dolly (Jamie Steen) and an entertaining jester called Muddles (Steve Royle), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs contains all you need for an enjoyable time at the theatre this festive season.

The pantomime is fun-packed from start to finish and includes comedy, dancing, singing and all round entertainment that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Variety performances feature throughout and include everything from juggling to a very special and unique kind of ventriloquism. Running at approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes including the interval, it is the perfect way to spend some quality time with the family whilst being thoroughly entertained.

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

Vicky Entwistle stars as the Wicked Queen and is extremely impressive in this role. She surpassed my initial expectations and had a commanding stage presence that grasped my attention each and every time she entered the stage. Despite being cast as a baddie, I felt that at times she also provided a touch of glamour, whilst also treating the audience to some incredibly enjoyable performances. I have watched many pantomimes over the years and have found that in some shows the baddie can have a somewhat limited role, but the Wicked Queen features regularly throughout this production and she had no problem showing off her vocal skills or keeping up with the choreography to some fast paced musical numbers.

Steve Royle (Currently Britain's Third Most Talented Person) stars as Muddles and my family and I were really looking forward to seeing him perform on stage. Whilst I have seen him starring in a panto role before, my children only became aware of him through his appearance on Britain's Got Talent and they were excited to see what variety acts he would bring to the show. It is fair to say that we were not disappointed and his fabulously funny ventriloquism scene starring a very Manky Monkey, will be one that my children will talk about for years to come. 

Nursie is played by Jamie Steen, who was just wonderful as Nurse Dolly. There were a few innuendos and little jokes for the adults thrown in on occasions and I found that Nursie and Muddles complemented each other well on stage. Both were capable of engaging well with the audience and made the ideal comedy duo during their scenes together. 

The role of Snow White was performed by Ellie Green who contributed some exceptional vocal talent. Her voice was a pleasure to listen to and her character was both charming and likeable. She performed well opposite her charismatic and handsome Prince, who was played by Chris Warner Drake. 

The seven dwarfs named Kip, Pop, Soppy, Sneezer, Twitcher, Smiler and Grouchy were incredible and you could feel the audiences love for them all as soon as they appeared. We couldn't help but sing and clap along as they performed songs such as "Heigh-Ho" and "Whistle While You Work".

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

The show features traditional panto favourites such as the spooky ghost scene and the marvellous 12 Days of Christmas which my family love. I always enjoy watching this particular act and how the cast deal with the many challenges. My youngest son had asked me on the way to the show whether the song would feature, so he was absolutely delighted to find himself singing "Five Toilet Rolllllsss" at the top of his voice.

The music throughout the production has been perfectly selected and features a variety of well known songs that all ages could sing along to. There was definitely some stand out performances though, with Snow White's incredible vocals showcasing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the dwarfs fantastic rendition of "Ice Ice Baby" which gave the audience an absolute treat. My personal favourite however, was Vicky Entwistle's performance of "I Put a Spell on You" which was just superb! A special mention also has to be made regarding the wonderfully talented orchestra who played with precision and made the songs an absolute joy to listen to.

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

The costumes within the production are without a doubt some of the best I have ever seen, particularly Nursie's. Her outfits dazzled and bewildered us with their creativity, extravagance and awesomeness. Just when you thought they couldn't get any bigger or bolder, you would be surprised with yet another costume change that were often greeted with sounds of laughter when she took to the stage. Whilst these costumes were the most notable, the wardrobe department excelled throughout the show with all cast members looking the part in outfits that reflected their characters perfectly.

Overall we had a wonderful time at the Blackpool Grand Theatre and both my husband and I enjoyed it just as much as the kids. Variety and comedy was strong throughout the whole production and it was great to hear the theatre filled with continuous laughter. Audience participation was definitely encouraged and everyone seemed to absolutely love this interaction that has always played such a big part in the panto experience. The cast all worked really well together and quite importantly they genuinely looked like they were having a great time on stage, providing guests with what I consider to be an outstanding show. I would absolutely recommend Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to people of all ages, so don't delay and be sure to book your tickets to this fabulous pantomime very soon!

Listing Details

Show - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 
Dates - 3rd December 2021 to 2nd January 2022
Times - Various show times
Venue - Blackpool Grand Theatre, 33 Church Street, Blackpool, FY1 1HT
Ticket prices - Prices vary, so please visit the Grand Theatre website to obtain the most up to date information.
Box Office - 01253 290190
Website - https://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/snow-white-new-2021-22

You can also visit The Grand Theatre's social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook - @blackpoolgrand

Twitter - @Grand_Theatre

Instagram - @grandtheatrebpl

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.