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Posts Tagged ‘ABA Productions’

I bought the children’s version of The Wind in the Willows some years back, and had read it to the kids a couple of times before. We pulled it out again in the run up to the theatre production of The Wind in the Willows performed by talking Scarlet.

The Wind in the Willows is a classic children’s book by Kenneth Grahame and tells the story of four friends – Mole, Ratty, Badger and the irrepressible Mr Toad. When Mole plucks up the courage to explore the Riverbank with his friend Ratty, nothing can prepare him for the adventure that awaits. Along with Badger and Mr Toad, they go from one exploit to the next, brought about mainly by Mr Toad’s reckless indulgences, and it all culminates in a battle not only to save Toad Hall, but their very way of life.

From the get-go the show presented a unique proposition, immersing you in a classic English experience. The costumes, the manner of speech, everything was just so English! I’ve never watched any other play like it. I wondered if the kids had trouble understanding what was said because of the heavy accents and speed of talking, but I loved it! And Mr Toad was played wonderfully! Irresponsible, irreverent, yet lovable and funny. I think the kids connected with him the most.

The irrepressible (irresponsible) Mr Toad

The irrepressible (irresponsible) Mr Toad and his friends

The script was good, the songs were original and very well arranged. I especially liked the song about going into the wild wood. The melody, rhythm, lyrics and mime came together perfectly to make you feel how creepy it was to wander in the woods when it was getting dark…and you hear a pitter patter…and you think someone’s there…

I also liked how they managed to bring you into different scenes by stirring up your imagination through the use of costumes, very simple props, and context. Without the set ever being changed, you are brought from the riverbank, to Toad Hall, on a ride down the country road, to a courtroom, to a jail, etc. Through subtle use of costume changes some actors took on multiple roles, though these might have been a bit to subtle for the kids. You have to be listening carefully to know which new character is being represented.

The 'car' that started Mr Toad's obsession

The ‘car’ that started Mr Toad’s obsession

Mr Toad driving his swanky new car

Now here’s Mr Toad driving his swanky new car!

While I think it is a tad too sophisticated for the little ones, its really appealing for older children and adults. I really enjoyed watching this! I think it would best suit kids 8 years and above. It is also probably a good idea to read the story to your kids first so that they have an idea of the plot and can keep up with the action. As for my kids, they liked the battle scene the best, though they wished the Chief baddy was shown being flung across the room like how it was mentioned in their version of the book. Boys.

The Wind in the Willows is brought in by ABA Productions and runs until Sunday, 14 June 2015 at SOTA Drama Theatre. Tickets are available at the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555). The show is 1h 45min long, something I had overlooked, so if you’re catching the evening show make sure not to overpack your day before that (as I did) and to give your kids enough to eat prior to the show in case they get tired and hungry (and cRaNky – as mine did! Hoo boy! My apologies to those who were sitting around us!)

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We received complementary tickets for this show. All opinions are my own. 

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Some stories attract you by their title alone. You just know it’s going be a good story. You just know you’re going to like it. And it certainly helps when the author is known for writing charming tales with memorable characters. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers is definitely one such story. I knew that my little bibliophile, Ellery, would like it. What a treat then to have the opportunity to bring him to watch it live!

The story is about a boy called Henry who loves books. Except, Henry doesn’t like to read books, he likes to eat them! Big books, picture books, reference books . . . if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows. Red ones are his favourite. And the more he eats, the smarter he gets. He’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world! However, he eats too many books too quickly. One day he feels sick to his stomach and discovers that the knowledge he has acquired through book eating is all jumbled up inside. He simply can’t digest it! Eventually he learns to enjoy books by reading them, rather than eating them. He also finds that by reading he can still acquire knowledge, and still be on his way to becoming the smartest boy in the world. It will just take a little longer. It’s a unique story that brings home the message that reading is a worthwhile activity, and that there are no shortcuts to success.

Henry about to gobble up a book

Henry about to gobble up a book

Book goes in, brain gets bigger!

Book goes in, brain gets bigger, boy gets smarter!

The stage adaptation of The Incredible Book Eating Boy really brought out the story and allowed you to understand the main character, Henry, and his unique circumstances even more. I liked how they dramatised Henry getting distracted by a cat (doing a massive poo…) and accidentally having his first taste (literally) of books. Through a clever use of angles, lighting, and slight of hand, the actors managed to make it look like Henry was eating up the pages of the book, eating up whole books, and even several books at a go! Of course the adults would know how it’s done, but I think it wow-ed the kids. Ellery whispered to me, “How come he can really eat books, Mummy?”

I thought the actors did very well at switching roles, in particular Teresa Jakovich and Jo Turner who had to take on multiple characters in the show. They really transformed with each character, giving each one a different manner of speech and unique little idiosyncrasies. My favourite had to be Timmy, Henry’s classmate. He was soooo funny. Loved him.

Henry with his Dad and sister

Henry with his Dad and sister

Besides Timmy, my favourite bit in the show was the segment showing ‘Henry’s Kitchen’, a parody that was a cross between sell-a-vision and a cooking show with books as the ingredients. It was so punny! There were lots of humourous references to famous books that parents could appreciate, and several references to familiar childrens books that the kids could recognise. For Ellery, his favourite part of the show was when Henry learned to enjoy reading, rather than eating, books.

After his terrible bout of indigestion, Henry doesn't want to eat book anymore!

Henry cannot stomach the pile of books anymore

I liked how the set and props were inspired by books. The backdrop was of pages of a book, the stage was marked with a boundary of books, the stools were piles of books, and the cleverest part was having props that looked like books which opened into a table complete with pop-up salad bowls and cups! I also liked how the style of the set and props stayed true to Oliver Jeffers’ beautiful and quirky illustrations in the book, right down to Henry’s medal for being the smartest boy on earth.

The smartest boy on earth!

The smartest person on Earth!

It isn’t always true that a good book translates to a good stage adaptation, but CDP theatre producers did a great job. Even though they elaborated on parts of the story, they did not detract from it. I would say their version made the book even more appealing!

On the way home, Ellery told me about how he couldn’t find a particular book and said he was certain Henry must have eaten it up! :)

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Eating the book eating boy

Presented by ABA Productions, The Incredible Book Eating Boy runs until Sunday 24 May and I think there are still tickets for the 430pm show. If you’ve got no plans, it would definitely be worth your while catching this production! Tickets are available via the SISTIC website and ticketing hotline (63485555).

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We received complementary tickets for this show. All opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links.

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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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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.

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I took the boys to watch How to Catch a Star presented by ABA Productions and the Blunderbus Theatre Company.  It’s based on the book by Oliver Jeffers and is about a boy who loved stars so much he wanted one of his very own.  It traces the story of how he tries different ways and means to get hold of one.

We borrowed the book from the library prior to watching the show so that the kids would be familiar with the story.  It’s a simple yet sweet story.  Asher and Ellery’s  favourite part is when the little boy in the story thinks what he sees in the water is a fallen star, when really it is the reflection of a star in the sky.  And they laugh gleefully when he thinks the starfish that washes up onto the shore is really that fallen star.  They connected with that simple story and were really excited about going for the show.  When I went to pick them from school they ran out of class yelling, “How to Catch a Star!!!!”

While the flow of the show followed the storybook, it was embellished with a lot of fillers – common for a stage adaptation of a children’s book, especially a short one.  But they managed to stretch the fillers in such a kid-pleasing way though.  I’ve never seen Asher laugh so hard in a show before.  He was laughing, guffawing, squealing with delight, giggling, and every other form of laughter you can think of.  And perhaps a bit too loudly because the people in front kept looking back (eep!), although they were smiling too and looked amused at how tickled Asher was.  To be honest, much of it was quite slapstick, but that’s what the kids love!  Seriously, the kids just lapped it all up!  For me, it was a wee bit too much slapstick for my adult sensibilities, but there is no doubt at all that the children totally loved every bit of the show.  Asher and Ellery declared that their favourite parts in the show were when the little boy got sprayed with water, and when a lollipop got stuck all over the place (watch it and you’ll know what I mean).

The little boy and his favourite star (Picture taken from Blunderbus website.)

In the show there were also two additional characters, Aurora and Ariel, who were the ‘star keepers’.  They served as narrators, and also helped the little boy in his quest to obtain a star.  I liked that the characters interacted a lot with the audience.  Before the show, they went around chatting with the children, and during the show they sometimes called out the names of the children they’d met.  They also kept turning to the audience for help with a variety of things, whether it was getting rid of horrid hiccups, blowing boats, or waking the little boy from his sleep.  Everyone (adults included) were more than happy to join in.

Catching sight of the star through his giant telescope (Picture taken from Blunderbus website.)

I do wish the last bit, where the boy sees the reflection and thinks it’s a fallen star would have come through a little more subtly, rather than just telling the children that he saw the reflection of the star in the water.  That part all the way to the end was the most poignant part of the storybook, I thought.  So it was a bit of a shame that it got glossed over at the end of the show.  But that’s probably an adult preoccupation. The kids were more than happy with the way it was presented.

Overall, the kids had a blast!  It was definitely a show that thoroughly delighted them.

If you’ve not read the book, you can watch a video of it on YouTube.

There are only 7 shows left and the show ends its run this Sunday, 27th April, so book your tickets soon.  Tickets are available through SISTIC.  You can also check out the poster for the show here.

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On a side note, we had a real surprise today!  We bumped into Asher’s old classmate, M, and his sister L.  And by sheer coincidence, we ended up sitting right next to each other!  What are the chances?  The two boys had a great time playing with one another.  It’s so lovely to see that they remember each other and get along so well even though they have not met for more than 1.5 years!

Old buddies catching up before the show

Old buddies catching up before the show

Asher, Ellery, M and L with two of three cast members from the show

Asher, Ellery, M and L with the cast of the show

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Disclaimer: I was given tickets to review the show.  All opinions are my own.

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