We had been looking forward to this for a while now, but the day was finally upon us. I had it planned out in detail. That morning I let James sleep in as late as possible before getting him up and ready to take Stanley to pre-school. I successfully got James to take an afternoon nap (woo hoo! a challenge in itself) and Nana was coming round to look after Eli. You see, we were going out with both boys IN THE EVENING! What a treat! This is the first time we’ve ever really done a sit down show with the boys, they are both very active and have very short attention spans. However, with the promise of Wallace & Gromit (Stanley is a huge fan) and music (James loves a sing and a dance) I knew we were onto a winner!
Carrot Productions are touring Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels around the UK. We headed to Buxton Opera House to see the show, it had only premiered the night before…exciting stuff!
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels promises to be an interactive experience featuring specially created animations as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp. It’s followed by a screening of the Academy Award®️ winning ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers’ with the soundtrack performed by the orchestra live on stage, so it’s set to be a grand day out for the whole family.
Without further ado, here’s our review of the performance.
We had a short walk from the carpark through the picturesque Pavillion Gardens to get to the Opera House, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and there was a hum on the breeze, or was it more of a whistle? Either way the opening chords of the Wallace & Gromit theme tune could be heard loud and clear, being sung by kids and adults alike.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about (really?) watch the handily placed video below for an earworm you wont be able to get rid of!
Once inside the Opera house we picked up our tickets and went to find our seats hastily avoiding the stalls selling Gromit toys (sorry, but we’d have to get at least two to avoid starting world war 3 and we have more stuffed toys than Build a Bear!). We had great seats in the stalls just off the central aisle. A member of staff had offered to find us some booster seats but we declined as there were a number of children attending, some of which were just that bit too big to sit on their parents laps.
Looking up and around, the beautiful gilded interior of the opera house amazed Stanley (4). At this point James was far more interested in the snacks we’d bought along than in the architecture.
The first half of the show was the performance of Musical Marvels the highlight being a duet of Concerto in Ee Lad between presenter Matthew Sharp (cello) and Gromit (violin) with Wallace making his debut on cymbals.
I wasn’t familiar with Matthew Sharp before we went but after experiencing his art, I’m definitely a fan. He’s a classical cellist and baritone but manages to successfully combine both with a theatrical stage performance with huge personality. He was a massive hit with both of my boys and during his ‘conversation’ and interaction with Wallace on screen, an excited little voice next to me whispered “Wallace and Gromit are actually real Mummy!’ You can’t really ask for more magic than that, can you?
Matthew was entertaining and funny, he took cues from the audience especially the children and made for a very likeable presenter. At this point I’ll quickly mention that there was an autistic 7 year old in the audience with tourettes, Matthew welcomed Edward’s input and made him part of the show, letting him shine! Go Edward, you certainly made us smile! It was absolutely lovely to witness such inclusiveness. Matthew also totally rocked a killer suit and a pair of metallic snakeskin cuban heeled, pointy toed boots – what a guy!
He introduced us to The Picture House Orchestra who were all dressed up as characters from the Wallace & Gromit films, there was a Shaun the Sheep and a few Wendolenes, who will you spot? Each group of instruments was introduced to us individually which highlighted the fact that it was indeed a live performance, and also gave the children in the audience a chance to hear the different sounds they make. We watched a run down of Wallace’s ‘leading ladies’ on screen and listened to the orchestra play Bohemian Rhapsody and Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing when things (unsurprisingly) went wrong for Wallace backstage. This was the boys first experience of a live orchestra and they were completely enthralled!
We reached the interval and there was only one thing on the boy’s mind…ICE-CREAM! So while Daddy joined the queue I took the boys up to the stage and lifted them up so that they could see the instruments. Stanley was pointing at different instruments and asking me what they were, so we sneaked a bit of learning in too! Matthew did a small meet and greet at the front of the stage and was signing programmes, so have yours ready! We were waiting in line to meet Matthew but James spotted that the ice-cream had arrived and well, that was that! Sorry Matthew, but in our household you come second best to strawberry ice-cream!
Interval over and this was the bit Stanley had been looking forward to most, a showing of The Wrong Trousers with live orchestral accompaniment.
The Wrong Trousers is our favourite of all the Wallace & Gromit films, and features the brilliant ‘train scene’ which never fails to delight my two little train geeks. As we’ve seen it so many times before (it’s a popular request since coming to Netflix) the boys knew the film well, so when the penguin came on screen James (2) shouted ‘the chicken’ which made a few people chuckle. Sorry if we ruined the plot for anyone!
What I found really strange was that when I was watching the screen I almost ‘forgot’ about the orchestra because the music was so perfectly intune with the film. It seems an odd thing to say but while the film was playing the music didn’t seem to be coming from the orchestra. I had to keep watching them play to remind myself it was live…it was a bit surreal in that respect, but I’m guessing it’s telling of the orchestra’s talent that it was so seamless.
Before we knew it the titles were rolling and the orchestra was playing that infamous theme again, everyone clapping along.
We highly recommend getting tickets to go and see Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels for two main reasons:
- It is family friendly, and I mean COMPLETELY family friendly. At our showing there were all ages in the audience from Grandparents to babes in arms. You also haven’t got the added worry of your child(ren) disrupting other people’s enjoyment as most people had children with them. The weekday showings are also early enough to be child friendly but late enough so that it feels like a special treat. Some showings are also holding Gromit modelling sessions too. EVERYONE loves Wallace & Gromit don’t they?
- Yes, we live in a digital age but I strongly believe that all children should experience live music. This is an absolutely great way to introduce them to classical instruments, their groups, the different sounds they make and how an orchestra plays together to create a huge sound. It’s also guaranteed to hold their attention with both the narrative provided by Matthew, and the screening of The Wrong Trousers.
It’s not too late to get your tickets, click here for venues and booking info.
And yes, we were humming the theme tune on the walk back to the car!
All images are my own unless otherwise credited.
Disclosure: We were invited to see Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels by Carrot Productions as part of their press team. Tickets were gifted in return for blog coverage and promotion across my social media channels.
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