This is a collaborative post with Carrot Productions.
Thursday is usually our playgroup and gymnastics day, so it was quite exciting to get up yesterday morning and know that instead of our usual routine, we’d be having a family day out to the theatre!
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels show is currently touring the UK and we were lucky enough to receive tickets to one of the performances at the Sage in Gateshead, courtesy of Carrot Productions. I’d written a preview of the show back in April, so had a rough idea of what to expect from the performance and had high hopes. We’d also heard some good reviews, so all in all, we were really looking forward to it.
We thought we’d make the most of the day, so headed to Newcastle early for lunch, before crossing the river to the Sage in Gateshead for the 1.30 performance. We really love the Sage as a venue. The acoustics are brilliant and despite now being 15 years old, the auditorium still feels so modern and airy.
We got to our seats in good time to see the members of the orchestra trickling onto the stage, each wearing different Wallace & Gromit-related outfits. Little B’s favourite was ‘The Cheese’ – basically a musician with a piece of cheese on his head. I have to say that personally, I preferred Shaun the Sheep, but The Cheese could do the Floss so there was no competition, apparently.
The orchestra picked up their instruments and began playing, while at the same time a video showed presenter Matthew Sharp rushing to get ready and running through the theatre to join in the performance. I’ll admit I’d never heard of Matthew Sharp before finding out about this show, but his energy, character and enthusiasm (and snazzy outfit!) really made it. Little B loved him from the start, and was so excited when she saw him running through the stalls and jumping onto the stage to finally join the orchestra. Her precise words were ‘Mammy, I love his silver boots. Can I have some for my birthday?’.
From that moment on, I knew she was going to be a fan.
Throughout the first half of the show, Matthew had conversations with Wallace by phone, as he tried to get hold of the music for Wallace’s ‘Concerto in Ee Lad’. Wallace was shown speaking to Matthew on the screen and it all seemed very convincing to the children in the audience, including Little B who was mesmerised (by both the phone call and the boots).
In between it all, the orchestra played a few well known classical pieces to accompany excerpts from the Wallace and Gromit short films and there was also a brilliant performance of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, with Matthew on cello and vocals. The performance of ‘Don’t You Worry About a Thing’ was another stand out moment, and it was a great way to show the versatility of an orchestra and the fun side of ‘classical’ instruments. The first half ended with the much-anticipated performance of Wallace’s Concerto in Ee Lad, featuring Gromit on violin and Wallace on cymbals.
The second half of the show was a screening of The Wrong Trousers, with live orchestral accompaniment by the Picture House Orchestra, which included members from The Halle, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as well as others. In many ways I felt sorry for the orchestra because they played so well and so perfectly in sync with the film, it was easy to forget they were there!
We’d been looking forward to seeing Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels, but I’d have to say that it surpassed our expectations. The first half held Little B’s attention much better than I was expecting it to, and even our 1 year old was clapping along to the music at some points. The atmosphere was so relaxed and in fact for me, that was one of the best things about the whole show. The musicians were wearing silly costumes, they were having a great time while playing and there was nothing at all intimidating about it, even during the classical pieces. They managed to make classical music completely accessible to children, and they showed that orchestral music doesn’t have to be stuffy or boring. It can be lighthearted, silly, and just cracking good fun!
If you can make it to one of the last shows on the tour, I would highly recommend it. You’ll be able to see it at Edinburgh Usher Hall on 8th June and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 9th June, and if you use the code WANDG20 you’ll get 20% off your ticket price.
Don’t forget your crackers!