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Children's shows - reviews

CBeebies Live – Reach to the Stars

LG Arena, Birmingham 13 April 2012 – 2.00pm

This show is a dream come true for preschoolers – a plethora of favourite CBeebies characters packed into an all action fun-packed 70 minutes or so.

LazyTown’s Stephanie and Sportacus, Postman Pat, Squiglet, the ZingZillas, Jess The Cat, Mike the Knight and the legendary Mr Tumble all appear in their own singing / action spots, interspersed with favourite presenters Justin Fletcher, Phil Gallagher (aka Mister Maker), Andy Day and Katy Ashworth plus Balamory’s PC Plod.

There is a loose plot – Robbie Rotten from Lazytown wants to hide all the CBeebies friends so that he can be the biggest star of them all.

One by one he tricks the characters, including, horror of horrors, Mr Tumble, (which I found particularly upsetting!) – into his secret lair.

Meanwhile, the presenters help to not only save the day but keep the action moving along with fun and favourite songs.

Ten Fat Sausages, Five Current Buns, Jelly on a Plate, Chick, Chick, Chicken and Horsey Horsey were just a few of the toddler “hits” which got both children and adults dancing and singing along.

Mr Tumble’s special take on Old MacDonald was a particular audience favourite because singing about horses, cows, pigs and ducks was mixed in with the clown’s trademark slapstick which you can’t help chuckling at. Whatever your age, someone being smacked in face when they tread on a rake will always make you smile!

Of course, all’s well that end’s well and in true panto style everybody cheers the baddie because he learns an important lesson and eventually says sorry.

Then, in a rousing finale everybody was on their feet dancing to Justin Fletcher’s catchy hit ‘Hands Up’ – which has been locked in my brain since I got the album – and the S Club 7 classic ‘Reach For the Stars’ – I don’t know which of us enjoyed this bit more, but I was on my feet – the first of many ’embarrassing mum’ moments to come I suspect!

V has now been to a number of live shows in traditional theatres but a full scale arena production is quite literally on another level. I was worried she may not be as engaged with the action but it is testament to the skill of both the production and the performers that they can draw a crowd of thousands, some of them quite far away, into their world.

Many of the characters get to the stage through the audience and the wonder on the children’s faces when those lucky enough to be in the right place came face to face with their heroes was lovely.

There was also the spectacle that only such a large venue can bring. Who knew that those annoying flashing things that they sell outside could look so spectacular in such a large arena when the lights go down, and, even better, provide a fantastic setting for a rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. V was mesmerised and I felt a bit teary!

I thought a huge venue packed with children under seven would be my idea of a nightmare, but you can’t help but be excited and charmed by such a joyful show.

Most importantly, my toddler sat through the entire thing without wriggling or moaning and seemed genuinely entranced by all that was going on in front of her eyes – that’s a winning show in our book!

Length

The length is perfect – around 30 minutes per half, which I find is the optimum for a two -year-old, plus a 20 minute interval.

Age range

All CBeebies fans really so up to about six or seven-year-olds. The producers say that it is not recommended for children under 18-months. I would suggest that this is because it is quite loud at times and because in arenas it may be hard for younger children to engage with it. My two-year-old was fine but I think a year ago it would have been hard for her to really enjoy it.

Other stuff

Merchandise – as always, pretty expensive but because people seem willing to pay a lot to please their little ones, they can get away with it. The postergramme was £5 which was what I was expecting and as you got a free CBeebies magazine with it, I thought this was pretty good value. But I thought T-shirts (£12) and hoodies (£20) were quite pricey. Flashy things and sponge fingers were £5 each and there was also a wide selection of CBeebies DVDs to buy at various prices. Debit/credit cards are accepted for a £1.50 handling fee.

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