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Hair Maclary and Friends is a delightful show!

Based on Lynley Dodd’s series of books, Hair Maclary and Friends stays true to the books and illustrations within them. I liked how the costumes reflected closely the characters in the story. Hairy Maclary with his furry body and stick thin legs, skinny Bitzer Malone with his ribs showing, and my favourite Muffin McLay truly messy all over like a bundle of hay. Muffin was so adorable. I just wanted to give him a big squeeze! As it turns out, Muffin McLay was also Ellery and Asher’s favourite character :)

They even managed to show Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum! I was wondering how they were going to achieve that. Turns out the person playing Schnitzel von Krumm had to walk in plank pose!

Hairy Group 2013

Hairy Maclary and Friends (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Hairy Maclary

Hairy Maclary (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Muffin McLay - my favourite! (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Muffin McLay – my favourite! (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

The stories followed the book, and were made even more engaging because each story was sung as a song. It worked especially well for the story ‘Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack’. All the pittering and pattering, and skittering and scattering by Zachary Quack was transformed into a very catchy tune, bringing the words in the book alive. I also thought that it was clever how the bees that were mentioned in the first line of the story were brought into the action.

“It was drowsily warm with dozens of bees

Lazily buzzing through the flowers and trees.”

They helped to emphasize the “z” sounds in the rhymes, and contributed to the bustle of Hairy Maclary trying to run away from Zachary Quack.

Lots of other stories like ‘Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy’, ‘Schnitzel von Krumm’s Basketwork’, ‘Hairy Maclary’s Bone’, and ‘Hairy Maclary’s Hat Tricks’ were also dramatised. The boys really liked the story ‘Scarface Claw’, and found it hilarious that he was afraid of himself! It’s really quite amazing the number of books they managed to cover in one performance.

The cast delivered an energetic performance throughout, and got the kids involved by having them look for missing pictures and trying to scare Scarface Claw. These are classic crowd-pleasers and the kids were more than happy to participate.

After the show, I discovered that the boys had transformed themselves into doggies. I was supposed to call them by their doggie names – which worked for dinner since I told Ellery that dogs are omnivores, so he ate up his veg!

Crawling around like Schnitzel von Krumm

Crawling around like Schnitzel von Krumm

Overall it’s a really fun outing for the kids!

Hairy Maclary and Friends is on at the Drama Centre Theatre at the National Library until 12 Oct 2014. You can get your tickets through the SISTIC website or by calling the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

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As part of the Dance Appreciation Series, the SDT presented an Introduction to the Ballet Classics. I have been dragging the boys to watch these short ballet talks/performances since I knew of it’s existence, and I think it’s slowly paying off. I didn’t mention to them that we were going to watch it until the day before, and when I did I wasn’t asked “why are we watching ballet” or anything else along those lines. They just went. In fact, during the show Asher often turned to me and said, “Wow! Mummy, look what he/she did!” And on the way to the car he did a few spins. Heh heh heh…

Maybe they are just resigned to the fact that Mummy is not going to stop, better just make the best of it :)

This was meant to be an introduction to the more famous ballets, so excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, La Bayadère, and Don Quixote were featured.

As always, I can’t decide if its great that the artistic director, Janek Schergen, goes into so much detail about dance because I often learn new things, or if he should cut down on the commentary because the kids get so restless between dances.

Rosa Park was polished and put on a good show as usual. Her pas de deux with Chen Peng was riveting, and made me want to watch SDT’s Don Quixote that’s showing at the end of the year.

But it was Chihiro Uchida who really took my breath away that day. I missed SDT’s Swan Lake in 2012, but I think I would have loved to catch it. Chihiro was exquisite as Odette, giving Odette such beautiful vulnerability and grace.

The other two pairings were unfortunately much less polished. At times they seemed to struggle to stay on the beat, cutting steps before they were fully executed in order to catch up. But I think it’s good to use the Dance Appreciation Series as a way to give these dancers exposure to roles that they normally may not get a chance to do for a full-length performance. So it’s something SDT should continue to do.

Looking forward to the next round.

Octoburst 2014

After a morning with the grandparents at Botanic Gardens, the kids and I spent an entire afternoon at the Esplanade enjoying the various Octoburst offerings. There were so many things to do, and as it was, we only did a fraction of what was available.

First, Asher and I caught Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre while Ellery had a nap.

As Ellery was still napping when we came out, Asher went to check out Book Stop, a book swop event. I’ve never actually been for a book swop before, so even I was excited to see what was available and what treasures we might find. In the end he settled on The Fish Who Could Wish, a funny book about a fish who can wish anything and have it come true, but he made one very bad wish that ended all that. Ellery now keeps asking to go for the book swop too so that he can exchange his book for another. So we might have to go down again…

Checking out the books at the book swop

Checking out the books at the book swop

The sticker reads "I swopped this book at Octoburst"

The sticker reads “I swopped this book at Octoburst”

We then went for Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Classical Ballet by SDT. I’m not kidding when I say I must have seen a hundred Elsas that day. There were even families with more than one Elsa in them! Gosh. Poor Anna. She’s the real protagonist, I think, just that her sister has the prettier dress and the headline song.

After that the boys then wrote a postcard each at Octopost to a secret someone and posted their postcards in specially designed letterboxes with birds’ heads sticking out. It was a colourful and attractive set-up, and the boys carefully looked at all the birds before deciding which to give their postcard to. I can’t wait for that secret someone to receive the postcards!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam on the right

In the concourse was also this eye-catching installation by Tiffany Singh called Revision of the Optics. I loved how the artwork captured both the sense of sight and smell. The vibrant colours were perfect for a children’s festival, and the scents that drifted past your nose, especially the smells of lavender and dried chilli, added another dimension to the work. I think there was supposed to be the element of sound from the tinkling of bells that hung from the ribbons, but as the air was still there was no tinkling.

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Beautiful rainbow colours

Beautiful rainbow colours

The boys were getting hungry so we started to head for Gluttons Bay, but stopped by the giant Snakes and Ladders for a while. In theory the children will take turns to roll the dice and move on the board. In practice, it’s who is the most assertive that will get the dice. I suppose it’s like that everywhere though huh? Unfortunately for Ellery, he kept missing his turn and got quite upset about it. I tried to encourage him to speak up for himself, but instead he gave up playing altogether. I was quite disappointed, and I couldn’t coax him to go back into the game. Instead he wanted to move on to aMaze Me. I guess there could have been another dice perhaps. But at the same time, it’s good for children to learn to either take turns, or to speak up for themselves.

Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders

Happily, we bumped into Del and Anya there and we decided to head for dinner altogether before the kids went to play at aMaze Me. It’s always nice with the cousins, and it was a real bonus for me to bump into them. As expected, the ribbon maze was more colourful and complicated now than when we went a week ago. To the delight of the boys, they found they could sit and lie at certain parts. They couldn’t quite climb on it as they had wished for, but it was good enough for them. Ellery also specially went to check on his ant bridge and did some maintenance and improvement works. I was happy to see that it was still there at all! I had half-thought that someone might have removed it for some administrative reason or other like it’s “damaging the tree”, “not part of the exhibition space”, or something else. It was a lovely example of allowing kids to think out-of-the-box and for them to enjoy seeing the results of it.

Chilling on the ribbons

Chilling on the ribbons

Anya

Anya adding her ribbon to this maze

Ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

The ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

As we headed home I asked the boys if they had a good Children’s Day, and they gave me a resounding “Yes!”

Octoburst is on until Monday, 6 Oct, and there are plenty of free and ticketed events still on. Go check out their website for more information on the various programmes.

How do I begin to describe this show and this story?

Words will not quite do it justice – and that’s probably why the show itself is wordless – but I’ll try.

Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre is about a man, Kepler, who loves two things beyond all others – the cosmos and his wife, Tomasina. When he loses her suddenly in a tragic accident, he goes to extraordinary lengths to relive the last moments he spent with her. He knows that the further into space he looks, the further into the past he sees. So he embarks on an epic journey to travel deep into space so that he can look back into the past and see his dear wife.

Tomasina joining Kepler as he does some stargazing (Photo taken from the SISTIC website)

Kepler and Tomasina at the circus before the freak accident happened (Photo taken from the SISTIC website)

It’s supposed to be a children’s show, but it deals with very adult issues like death, loss, and a deep, enduring love. It was so moving, I found strong emotions welling up inside me and I had to hold back my tears.

You feel the deep affection between Kepler and Tomasina. Are amused how he’s the serious one and she’s so lively and playful. You feel intense sadness from Kepler’s sudden loss, not least because of the moving live music, but also because of the extremely delicate puppetry work by the performers. A little lowering of the head, a little movement of his hand, an appropriate stillness. You also feel the excitement, determination and hope as he builds his spaceship and flies off into deep space, literally to the end of the universe, to keep the memory of Tomasina alive. The way the emotions are conveyed, it doesn’t feel like you are watching puppets at all. You just feel.

Kepler’s shock after the accident (Photo taken from the Unicorn Theatre’s website)

The story itself is a simple one, but the emotions aroused are big and, I think, hard for young children to fully understand. It’s unusual for a children’s show to deal with death and sadness, but it’s something real that children have the face as they get older and experience loss themselves. The depth of Kepler’s love is also quite beyond the understanding of young children. There are a few light-hearted moments, but because of the themes, I think 6 years-old is the absolute minimum age. Even then many of the nuances will be lost on them. It’s really more appropriate for older, more mature children.

But what will be of endless fascination to audiences young and old is how the show is done. With four cameras, mini-stages with multiple sets, live-animation with hand puppets and shadow puppetry, the audience is treated to a backstage view of how a film is produced. The action from the four cameras are projected onto a screen at the back, at times showing the feed from just one camera, at times from several at the same time to give a dream-like effect. It is genius.

Puppetry projected on the screen behind (Photo taken from the SISTIC website).

I loved how you get close-ups of what the characters are doing, like seeing the details of Kepler’s books and maps. And I was intrigued at how all it took was some simple items to create wonderful effects on camera like a spaceship flying through the stars, and rain!

The most amazing part about the show is that somehow, even with the hive of activity before you, it never once distracts you from the beautiful storyline and the emotions it raises.

It was very good. Sad, yet sweet, and stirring.

Something Very Far Away is part of Esplanade’s Octoburst! festival and it’s on at the Esplanade Recital Studio until Monday, 6 Oct. Get your tickets through the SISTIC website or by calling the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

Out of the gate
and off for a walk,
went Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy.

He boarded a plane,
along with his friends,
and flew to dear Singapore
What did he come here for?

Well, let me tell you!

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The loveable furry black dog, Hairy Maclary, is coming to Singapore from 10 – 12th Oct, along with his friends with the rhyming names like Hercules Morse (as big as a horse), Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum), and the cutest – in my opinion – Muffin McLay (like a bundle of hay)! You can check out this website to learn the names of his other friends.

Direct from a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013 and hit of the Sydney Opera House Christmas season 2012, Hairy Maclary and Friends is an official stage adaptation of the much-loved Hairy Maclary children’s books by Lynley Dodd. The show promises to be packed with live music, singing, colourful costumes and some of your favourite Hairy Maclary stories. If you’ve never read the books before, you can listen to some of the stories on Youtube here and here.

Brought in by ABA Productions, Hairy Maclary and Friends will make for a perfect family treat suitable for those from 2 to 102. You’d be barking mad to miss it!

Show details:
Hairy Maclary and Friends
Dates: 10-12 Oct 2014
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre – National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street
Tickets are available through the SISTIC website and SISTIC hotline (63485555). You can use the discount code ABA2014 to get 10% off ticket prices!

~~~ Giveaway ~~~

I have a set of 4 top-category tickets worth $62 each to give away to one reader! The tickets are for the Fri, 10th Oct, 5pm show at the Drama Centre Theatre – National Library!

To qualify, simply leave a comment below by 7 Oct, 1pm with your email address and share which character from Hairy Maclary is your favourite and that you are most keen to see on stage!

The winner will be chosen through a random draw.

After I dropped Asher in school for his sleepover, Ellery and I had our special day (or evening rather). He was playing in the sandpit and made me sand pies, so for dinner we decided to have some real pies at Pies & Coffee.

We had duck confit and wagyu beek cheek pie. The filling was good. The meat was tender and the gravy rich and flavourful. But I was really disappointed by the pie crust which was much too dry and crumbly. It could be an off day. I’ve been there once before and the pie crust was better.

Our pies

Our pies. The mash potato was so good!

We headed home so that Alyssa could bathe and I made a deal with Ellery that we’d go out for ice-cream after Alyssa slept. He was so excited! My goodness. When we left the house he was happily chanting, “Mei mei (little sister) is not here! Mei mei is not here!”. He did clarify later that he loves his sister but was just happy that it was him and me alone that night. I really should try to schedule in these special days with the boys more often if possible.

Ellery chose to go Ben & Jerry’s, and he chose the flavours of ice-cream, and the toppings. Brownie with Candy Bar Pie and Chocolate Therapy ice-cream, hundreds-and-thousands, and sliced almonds. I approve. Yum! We shared of course :)

Ice-cream treat!

Ice-cream treat!

After ice-cream we walked around Dempsey a bit and ended up at Jones the Grocer. I decided to bring him to the cheese room just for fun, and oh, how much fun we had! He was sooooo amused by the names of the cheese and was especially tickled by Munster and Ticklemore! I had never heard of Ticklemore cheese too and found it quite funny. But Ellery thought the names of these two cheese was simply hilarious! He laughed so loud, and long, and hard! “Mun-han-hahaha-han-ster!!! Ti-hee-hee-hee-ckle-hahahahaha-more!!!!”

We bought back some Ticklemore to try and wanted to get some Munster too but the salesperson strongly advised against it. Maybe another day I’ll get a small piece to let him try.

In the cheese room

In the cheese room

Munster

Munster

Ticklemore

Ticklemore

Laughing his head off

Laughing his head off

We wandered Cucina too to see the produce they were selling, before heading home.

Looking at veggies and fruit at Cucina

Looking at veggies and fruit at Cucina

A special day indeed. We should have another some time :)

Special Day – Part Asher

Asher didn’t have school on Friday because the K2 kids were going to have a sleepover in school (how fun right?) Since Asher had been asking to go ice-skating again I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring him. With Ellery in school I could focus my attention on Asher and help him become more confident on the ice.

So off we went to JCube. After a warming lunch of katsu curry (he said he wanted his body to warm up so he wouldn’t feel cold on the ice), we went ice-skating, just him and me. Alyssa was with Eni.

It was really special for Asher and I. I seldom ever get the chance to be with just him, even when there were just 2 kids. With 3 it’s even tougher. This was our first time, and he was so happy.

We were pleasantly surprised to bump into his two classmates there. They had been wanting to go back after the Frozen party too. It was great! He became a lot steadier on the ice and could move a little more smoothly, though still far from what I’d call skating. Still more like walking, or shuffling. But he was not afraid. And he was happy :)

I didn’t realise that the Rink had fixed timeslots for skating and we missed about 30mins of the 2 hour slot, but I made a promise to him, so I kept it. And it was so worth it.

With his classmates on the ice

With his classmates on the ice

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