Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Chris & Pui Show *review*

When I spoke to Pui a couple of weeks ago (blog post here) she promised a show full of good old-fashioned family fun and entertainment and that's exactly what we got when Harry and I went to watch the Chris and Pui Show at Norwich Theatre Royal this morning.

There was slapstick, singing, dancing, audience participation, topical and local jokes (featuring last night's Eurovision and Radio 1's Big Weekend which was just down the road in Earlham Park), costumes and plenty of cheeky asides for the adults to enjoy.

There were lots of Show Me Show Me elements;  Toddler Tom, Momo, Teddington, Miss Mouse and Stuffy, the groovy moves dance, and the shop characters including our family favourite the Grand Old Duke of York.

Chris and Pui have been entertaining little ones on CBeebies for 13 years but everything they do is still fresh and full of energy. They looked as though they were having so much fun up on stage.

Everyone in the audience appeared to be having the time of their lives while joining in with the singing and shouting out, adults as much as children, and one particular grandmother behind us was laughing her socks off throughout the entire show!

From preschoolers to grandparents this is a show that has something for everyone. If you've got fans of CBeebies' favourite duo I thoroughly recommend it.

At the end of the show Pui announced that they are currently filming a new series of Show Me Show Me, which will be on TV in the not too distant future. Harry can't wait!

After the show Chris & Pui held a meet & greet with some of the audience. My usually outgoing little man decided to choose that moment to become painfully shy but he patiently queued up & I managed a quick hello with them both while he got high-fives from them. I was disappointed that Harry wouldn't allow me to take a photo of the three of them but he walked away with a signed photo and a smile on his face, eager to show Molly and Charlie what he had got!

For tour details check out

*We were not paid for this post. We received tickets for the purposes of this review. All opinion is honest and based upon our own experiences.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure *review*

It was a long time coming for Harry as we'd organised tickets last year but on Saturday me, Molly and Harry finally headed back to my old home town of Lowestoft to see the Octonauts live on stage at the Marina Theatre in their show 'Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure'.

It's their first live show and is produced by Fiery Light, the team behind the hugely successful Peppa Pig live shows so it had a lot to live up to.

We took our seats with 15 minutes to go and there were a few countdown announcements from Dashi. Just before the curtains went up a human Octo Cadet appeared amongst the audience and spoke with a few of the children. Harry didn't know quite to make of her but I think that's because he was aware she wasn't in the TV show and wasn't expecting to see a human.

All the characters appear; the life-sized costumed Captain Barnacles, Peso, Dashi, Kwazii, Shellington and Tweak, puppets Tunip and Professor Inkling.

I won't give the plot away for those that still have to see the show but I was told by Molly that it was an exciting, action-packed show worthy of the TV series-she may be nearly 11 but she's as much of a fan as Harry is! During the scene where one of the characters is in mortal danger Harry gripped my hand and panicked as the curtain came down at a crucial moment and there were gasps of horror from some of the children in the audience. Thankfully, all was okay in the end!

There are parts where audience participation is actively encouraged (a sure-fire winner with little ones) including some catchy tunes, some amazing graphics on large projection screens and a spellbinding underwater scene with ultraviolet sea creatures.

Harry sat enthralled throughout the entire show and the production team have done a great job of converting an animated TV series into a live action show. The show was about 1hr 20mins long (with an interval of 20 minutes). It was just the right length of time for young theatregoers and it's a great show for all the family.

For tour information visit 

*We were not paid for this post. We received tickets for the purpose of the review and tickets for a competition which was run on this blog during September 2014. All opinion is honest and based upon our own experiences.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Octonauts Live

A show based upon the popular CBeebies TV show Octonauts is currently touring the UK. We're going to see it at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft this weekend. 
For tour information please go to:

In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

Richard Lewis adapts and directs this new production for the stage. He also adapted and directed the hugely popular three Peppa Pig stage shows and last year’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom tour. Matt Lewis is lyricist, Simon Scullion is designer, Matt Haskins is lighting designer and Ian Horrocks Taylor is sound designer.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure is produced by live children’s show supremos Fiery Light (joint venture by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions), the team also behind the recent tours of the three successful Peppa Pig stage shows. Their most recent – Peppa Pig’s Big Splash - is currently on tour. It has broken box office records for a pre-school show and will return to the West End for fifth consecutive Christmas season at the Criterion Theatre this year. Other Fiery Light productions include the recent tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, LazyTown Live! and Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interactive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Shrek The Musical- A chat with Dean Chisnall

When you are a West End and touring performer, there are a list of different parts you may aspire to.
But is it a 6ft 5in green-faced ogre a dream part? Well, it certainly is for Dean Chisnall who is taking on the role of Shrek in the smash-hit UK tour which is heading to Norwich Theatre Royal.

Prior to donning the costume and persona of the grumpy ogre who finds the true meaning of friendship and love, John Bultitude caught up with Dean to find out what it is like playing a character beloved by millions.

There is no doubting the dedication that Dean Chisnall has when it comes to playing Shrek in the lavish larger-than-life musical based on the hit animation.

It takes him around two-and-a-half hours to transform himself into the green-faced grump with a heart of gold and he loves every minute of being part of one of the biggest shows on the touring circuit.

Having a part in the show touring the UK is a far cry from his early life growing up in a village a few miles from Ormskirk in Lancashire. “I’ve really got no idea how I got into this business. When you are growing up in Lancashire, one of the popular things to do was pantomime with the local village group. I did a bit of singing but nothing that I ever thought would lead to a career,” said Dean.

But his flair for performing led him to London and he was fortunate enough to win a place at the prestigious Arts Ed School in Chiswick. His career continued on an upward trajectory as he was offered a part in the ensemble of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Woman In White before he had even finished drama school, which was an enviable position to be in. As Dean said, “Getting into the ensemble of a West End show for your first job is success in itself. Just working in this industry can be classed as success.”

From there, he moved on to Evita and then he took on the ‘Gary Barlow character’ in the Take That musical Never Forget which was a role he really enjoyed, but for the last four-plus years, Shrek has been a big part of his life. He originally joined the West End cast in March 2011 doing 12 months as understudy before taking on the lead role a year later. After a short break, he was then back with the show on tour.

And, as well as the singing and dancing, one of the most intense parts of the show is that long period in the make-up chair before the curtain goes up on each show. Dean explained: “Shrek has the most detailed make up in musical theatre history, even more so than The Phantom of the Opera. At first, it is a bit freaky. It is daunting but you eventually just zone out and the make up just becomes part of the process. The fact is that I start work about two and a half hours before curtain up and I don’t finish until 10pm.

“After the show, by the time I have got from my dressing room to the stage, I have ripped the entire face and head off because it comes off quickly enough. The makeup girls take off the gluey and gunky bits which take about 20 minutes. It is such a relief especially on a two show day because it all has to stay on from 11am until 10pm.

“It is quite claustrophobic when you first put it on. The only thing that is still you, once the process is completed, is your eyeballs and your lips. Every other part of your skin is covered in the silicon. You feel very detached from the world. If you think about it too much, it becomes very scary.”

With the show taking to the stage at Norwich Theatre Royal on June 9-28, the hot summer weather (if the city is graced by any) could make Dean’s temperature rise inside the costume and under the silicon mask, but he is prepared. “We opened this tour on the hottest week of the year in 2014 right in the middle of a heatwave. You can’t take the head off in the interval or the costume off because it takes too long. I drink about 8 litres of water during the show alone. That gives an idea of how hot it is. It can be even more than that in the summer.

“It isn’t remotely glamorous but it is a really nice job to have. I know thousands of people who would want to do it and I am very fortunate to have it. I remind myself of that on a day when it is very hot.”
While Shrek is beloved by a young audience, Dean said the broad appeal of the show is also strong with people from eight to eighty all enjoying it. “Everyone can relate to it. Even my grandparents know what it is. They have great grandchildren so they know what it is about.

“Everybody also knows deep down that Shrek is a good soul. It is a love story at the end of the day.”
If you haven’t booked yet, come along to enjoy a true West End spectacle and the chance to enjoy a feel-good story, whatever your age.

Photo credit: Norwich Theatre Royal


Shrek The Musical, Tuesday 9-Sunday 28 June. Performances on Tuesday-Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2.30pm and 7pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 5pm EXCEPT Thursday 25 June at 2.30pm only and Sunday 28 June at 1pm only. Please note there are no Monday performances. Tickets £8-£45. Discounts for Friends, Corporate Club, Over-60s, Under-18s, Schools and Groups. Signed Performance on Saturday 20 June at 2.30pm. Audio-described performance on Saturday 20 June at 2.30pm. Captioned performance on Thursday 25 June at 7pm.

To book, log onto or call the box office on 01603 630000.

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