My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Going Green with Green Pomelo!

"Our aim is to promote and provide great value, great quality, green and ethical modern cloth nappies"

With the arrival of Mini Munchkin expected any day soon, we have recently been talking about the possibility of using cloth nappies as opposed to the disposables we used with Munchkin. When mentioning this concept to friends and family over the last few weeks, I have received a mixed bag of opinions about the whole thing. Some have said, 

"I love using cloth nappies - always have and always will!" 

whilst others have had very different attitudes - 

"Cloth?! Yuck! Why would you want to do that ...?"

Well, I realised I needed to make up my own mind, and decided that I would like to give them a try. I started to read up on the different types, and before long, my mind was boggling! So many different fabrics, fastenings and features, I just didn't know where to start! Whilst I was searching for information amongst the many websites and blogs offering tips and reviews, I stumbled upon a wonderful company. Green Pomelo is a small family run business based in London, UK which was founded by a passionate mum, Su, who was a lover of cloth nappies and was using them on her baby son. I approached Su for some advice on the various nappies that they had to offer on their website as I was questioning the difference in benefits between the velcro and snap fastenings. After some chatting with the lovely Su and looking through the website, I saw that both had great advantages, and I selected one of each from their range.

I chose two very different designs. One being their Baby Pink Minky Nappy with snap fastenings, and the other being their Blue Colourful Bubbles with velcro fastening. Both nappies are of exceptional quality. We have the pink with Breathable Waterproof PUL Luxury Minky fabric outer layer and the blue bubbles with Breathable Waterproof PUL outer layer, so both have differing exterior fabrics, but the wonderful key features of the products are present in every design of Green Pomelo Nappies.

  • The One Size design means they can be worn from Birth to Potty (8lb to 20lb+) with the easy adjustment of the snaps on the front panel.
  • The generous pocket opening makes removal and replacement of the inserts simple.
  • The breathable waterproof PUL outer layer makes them kind to baby's skin and comfortable to wear.
  • Leaks are prevented through the gentle and durable elastic legging.
  • The inner layer consists of Hydro-Allergenic Microfibre making it soft on the most sensitive skin and preventing irritation.
Green Pomelo are so confident in the quality of their products that they offer a 1 Year Warranty from the date of purchase on any manufacturing defects. This  covers product stitching, seams, elastics and any of the product's components including snaps, velcro and fabric.

I really can't wait to start using our Green Pomelo Nappies when Mini Munchkin arrives and we will be sharing our opinions and thoughts (and, of course, photos!) on our use of the product here on the blog.

At this point, all we can offer is our initial impressions of Green Pomelo's Real Cloth Nappies, but I have to say that those initial impressions are all positive. The fabrics used are exceptionally soft to the touch, including the removable insert soakers (of which 2 are included with each nappy) The snap and velcro fastenings are of very high quality and are all attached securely. The elasticated areas that create a seal around the top of the legs seem really well stitched and I can see that they will work well when fighting against leaks. In addition to all of this, Green Pomelo are a truly lovely company to deal with. Happy to offer advice and with a genuine appreciation shown to their customers, I can see me purchasing many more of their products from them in the near future once Mini Munchkin makes an entrance into the Munchkin Patch!

Watch this space for a full review coming up soon!

For more information on Green Pomelo Real Cloth Nappies ...


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom LIVE!!!

Ben & Holly bring their Little Kingdom to the Live Stage for the first time ever!

The makers of Peppa Pig present their NEW UK Tour for 2012/2013!

Tour dates for 2012 Announced, opening on 26th October, 2012, at The Orchard Theatre in Dartford!

Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom is a huge favourite in the Munchkin Patch. With the adventures they all embark upon and the tricky situations the characters expose themselves to, we think this is going to be a magical show!

From the makers of Peppa Pig and the producers of the two hugely successful Peppa Pig theatre tours comes the first ever stage version of the BAFTA award-winning TV animation, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. This brand new UK tour opens at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford on 26 October, 2012, at the start of an extensive UK tour, booking through until summer 2013.

Currently a top favourite show for pre-schoolers, this charmingly magical animation airs on Nick Jr (since April 2009) and on 5’s Milkshake (since April 2010). Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is co-owned by animation studio Astley Baker Davies and has been a hit with audiences and critics alike. The series won a BAFTA award for Best Pre-School Animation in 2009 and a British Animation Award for Best Pre-School Series in 2012.

The Little Kingdom – where everyone is very, very small – is home to Princess Holly and her best friend Ben Elf. Holly is a young fairy princess who is still learning how to do magic properly and sometimes her spells don’t work out quite right. Ben is an Elf. Elves don’t do magic but they are very good at making things. Ben doesn’t have wings like Holly but he flies on the back of Gaston the Ladybird.

In this exciting new musical adventure, Ben and Holly have fun and games helping Gaston clean up his messy cave; they go on a trip to The Big World with tooth-fairy Nanny Plum; and still have time to plan a surprise for King Elf’s birthday party, complete with an unplanned jelly flood.

Packed full of games, songs and laughter, this is an enchanting and magical visit to the Little Kingdom, live on stage for the very first time. This beautiful story of elves, princesses and childhood innocence will delight all the family.

Richard Lewis has adapted the TV animation for the stage and also directs. He also adapted and directed the two highly popular Peppa Pig theatre tours (2009 – 2011 and the current tour 2011 – 2012, both of which had sell-out West End Christmas runs at the Criterion Theatre) and the two LazyTown Live! tours (2007 – 2009).
The composer is the highly talented Mani Svavarsson. He was also part of the creative team on the two Peppa Pig stage tours.

Cast and other creative team members to be announced in due course.

 Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom is produced by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions (Fiery Light Productions) who alsoproduced LazyTown Live!, Roald Dahl’s The BFG and the two Peppa Pig stage tours, Peppa Pig’s Party and Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt.

Tour Details

FRI 26 – SUN 28 OCTOBER, 2012
Fri 26 at 4 pm
Sat 27 at 1 & 4 pm
Sun 28 at 10 am & 1 pm

Wed 31 at 1 & 4 pm
Thurs 1 at 10 am & 1 pm

Sat 3 at 1 & 4 pm 
Sun 4 at 10 am & 1 pm

Wed 7 at 1 & 4 pm 
Thurs 8 at 10 am & 1 pm

Sat 10 at 1 & 4 pm
Sun 11 at 10 am & 1 pm

Wed 14 at 1 & 4 pm
Thurs 15 at 10 am & 1 pm

Sat 17 at 4 pm
Sun 18 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm

Watch this space for further details!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Andy and Mike's Big Box of Bananas!

The Boys go Bananas!

On Sunday, 3rd June, 2012, we set off on a trip to another theatre. This one was The Palace Theatre in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and was for a very different kind of performance than the shows I am used to. This was the day we were going to see Andy and Mike's Big Box of Bananas!

Now, most of you should recognise one half of this comedy duo from the award winning, fun filled television channel aimed at children under 6 years old, CBeebies. Andy Day has been a member of the team of presenters on the channel since 2007, and has more recently become the star of his own series, Andy's Wild Adventures. Aside from all of this, he has always been my favourite of the presenters. The 'other half' of this partnership is Mike James. Andy and Mike have been friends since their school days, and have worked together both in and out of the spotlight of fame throughout the years.

We arrived at The Palace Theatre and collected our tickets. The Front of House staff were lovely and friendly, each one ready to help direct us to where we needed to be. This particular day was a very wet day, and as we travelled to Southend on the train and had a reasonable walk either end, we had the buggy with us. This was not a problem to the helpful staff. Although they did not have a designated area to store pushchairs, they had a safe area near the Ticket Office where we were permitted to leave it. So we found a spot where it would not get in the way and were confident that it would be perfectly secure.

I then ran straight over to the souvenir table which had caught my eye the second we entered the theatre lobby. A number of items were available, including t-shirts, posters, plush bananas, and my personal favourite, flashing microphones! I needed one of those, desperately!! Mummy doesn't usually give in to my demands, but today was different, and minutes later I was wearing my sparkly pink accessory around my neck!!

Next, we needed to get a booster seat as I have a tendency to get a little lost in theatre seats and have little chance of seeing anything on the stage when someone tall sits in front of me! These seats were available from the refreshment kiosk for a minimal hire charge of 50p, which was well worth it! So we were now ready - we had our tickets, a booster seat, our refreshments, and most importantly, I still had my sparkly souvenir!!

It was now time to take our seats!

So on this particular day, we had been invited to join Andy and Mike at their Fun Pad. From the very start, I knew we were in for a fun filled show as Andy and Mike enter the stage wearing pants over the top of their trousers, eye masks and capes. Just your average 'Superhero' attire! They jumped around the stage, dashed around the auditorium and gave us the perfect introduction to the genius slapstick mayhem that we were about to involve ourselves in!

Andy and Mike find a big cardboard box in their Fun Pad and enlist our help to 'house-sit' for them whilst they embark on their mission to discover its contents! They tried and tried to open the box, making us all laugh in the process, but a funny looking man on their TV (who looked very familiar!) told them that they had to find the magic word in order to get the box open, and he informs the audience that we must pay close attention to their dreams in order to help them find this magic word!

"Beddy Byes ... Close your eyes!"

So from there, we are taken on a crazy adventure through a series of their bizarre dreams, featuring flamboyant air hostesses (yes, female ones!), Captain Ooooh and Captain Aarrgghh the puzzled pirates and Sunk & Wreck, the Geordie hosts of their imaginary show 'Ocean's Got Talent'! Each dream reinforces the magic word, which the audience are encouraged to remember throughout the performance!

In between a great deal of jumping and running around the stage, the participation of individually selected spectators, comedic music and rhyme and general wackiness, Andy and Mike maintain a winning rapport with the audience as well as with each other. On a number of occasions, we were witness to some improvisation being suitably added to their script as they managed to feed off of the energy of their audience. Everything they did just ... well ... worked!

The whole show had a distinct feel of a pantomime, with the constant encouragement for the audience to shout and cheer at prompted (and some unprompted!) moments and with Andy and Mike regularly tearing around the auditorium, interacting with the audience, at points even whilst armed with ('loaded'!) Super Soakers! However, with the small size of the auditorium at The Palace Theatre, it sustained a personal and 'close' feeling the whole way through, making everybody feel as they were really a part of the action! Even mummy was laughing all the way through, as the humour was appropriate for all ages. After all, the audience is not 100% children, and they have recognised this and written their material accordingly. It is very cleverly done! 

At the end of the show, Andy spoke to us all about their latest work in progress titled 'Andy and Mike's Tick Tock Time Machine', which sounds brilliant. We can't wait for news of its release and hope it comes to a town near the Munchkin Patch!!

To top a simply wonderful afternoon, the stars of the show still had time for their fans and came to meet and greet each of us in the theatre lobby, taking a moment to have a photograph taken with each of us! After seeing Andy and Mike on the stage, and meeting them in person, we have decided that these guys should always work together, as they make a superbly winning team!

Thank you Andy and Mike for an afternoon full of madness, mayhem and memories!!

We were provided with tickets to see the performance for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Munchkin - My Little Fussy Eater!

"Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy"
(Author Unknown)

Those were the days. The days when I had a perfect little girl, weaning at 4 months old, and happy to try absolutely any foods that were presented to her! Like many others, Munchkin really was the model baby when weaning. There were very few foods that she would turn her nose up at, and she appeared to be a child that genuinely enjoyed her food. Mealtimes were exciting for all of us, watching her try and take pleasure in experimenting with new textures and flavours.

Munchkin at 6 months enjoying her first Baby Rusk!

At the start, I will admit that the foods we fed to Munchkin were shop bought. In the early stages of being a new mum, I did not seem to have the confidence to make up my own foods for her, although I had every intention to before she was born! 

"I'll give her every vegetable and fruit that I can, and I will blend them up into a variety of delicious purées, and Munchkin will love them all!"

In reality, at least at the beginning, I would find myself in the Baby Food aisle in our local Morrisons, checking out their huge selection of jars, pouches and packets. In reality, I never seemed to have the time to make up all my own foods for our daughter. In reality, these 'already prepared' meals were convenient and a 'safe' option. I would check labels and ingredients, and I would compare nutritional values on the different packets. I liked to think that I knew what my child was eating, although, I suppose, no one can ever be 100% certain on the ingredients unless the food is home-made from scratch. I do, however, feel that a number of brands get the nutritional balance just right in their pre-prepared foods. Our personal favourites were Cow & Gate and Organix. They were always Munchkin's first choice, and even the snacks they offer were higher on her list of favourites than other brands. Even today, at 2 and a half, she loves Organix Oven Baked Carrot Sticks which are recommended from 7 months!

When Munchkin was about 18 months old, we started to see a developing 'fussy' streak gradually appearing. All she wanted to eat was pasta and cheese! Shopping became a struggle. We would go to the supermarket and the Greengrocers together, and look at all of the vegetables and fruits that were available, and it was clear that she had an interest in them. She was aware of their names, and always commented on all the bright colours. We came to the conclusion that she 'liked the idea' of having these different foods, but the actuality of the situation was that they weren't pasta or cheese, so they would just get pushed to the side of the plate.

I worried terribly that Munchkin wasn't getting the nutrition that she needed. I consulted Health Visitors and other professionals, none of whom seemed too concerned. "She'll get there ..." they'd say, but I wasn't convinced that she would - not without a little intervention, anyway! After all, guidelines about the kind of food and nutrients children need in their diets seem to chop and change regularly! Vitamins, various supplements that are available for our kids, Omega 3 - what will come next ...?

This was the point at which I decided to enrol ourselves on a well known course of parent / child sessions that focus on healthy living through nutrition and exercise. From these sessions, my priorities and attitudes towards her eating habits changed direction. Instead of worrying myself that she was getting plenty of food inside her tummy at dinner time, I was more concerned that she was eating the right amount of the different food groups, and instead of letting myself get stressed that she wasn't eating, I learnt that it was more important to stay calm to keep meal times relaxed. I gained a great deal of knowledge I never previously had regarding portion sizes and realised that the amount of food I was putting on Munchkin's plate was probably too much, creating a sense of defeat in her before she even picked up her fork!

Portion sizes are an essential priority to us now!
Nowadays, it is most important that Munchkin gets a good balance of different food groups and also that she learns to enjoy her food! This has been the biggest struggle. Problem is, she is so lively and full of energy all of the time, it's difficult to encourage her to sit still for long enough to eat a whole meal! It is important that we eat as a family, and that she sees vegetables on ALL plates (even on daddy's plate, who is not  fruit or veg eater, but makes an extra effort for her benefit!) Dessert is often an incentive for Munchkin to sit nicely during meal times. The promise of bananas with custard or a yoghurt will often help to focus her at dinner. 

As Munchkin is only 2, her knowledge and understanding on nutrition and healthy eating is limited. We try to explain to her which foods are 'good for her' and which she needs to consume in moderation, but this is a tricky subject for a toddler to grasp. After all, if it tastes yummy, how can it not be good for you?! She does understand about not turning her nose up to foods that she has never tried before though. There was a time, not too long ago, that all unfamiliar food was bad! The one response we would get from her is, "I don't like that!" before she had even tried it. Now, however, if she is offered a food she does not recognise, she says "Mustn't say NO to new food!" and she will give it a try. In this department, I feel we are progressing, which is something!

We would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on all or any of the points listed below. Any tips you may have when dealing with fussy eating in young children would also be gratefully accepted! With Mini Munchkin due to arrive any day now, it would be lovely to feel that we could have an easier job second time around!

  • How do you shop for kids' food?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What do you worry about?
  • What do you look for in food?
  • What are the most important things to you when it comes to kids and nutrition?
  • Which brands get it right?
  • What do brands say/do that annoy you?
  • Where do treats and puddings fit in? What challenges do you face there?
  • What do your kids say/think? Do they comment on their diet? Do they ask for certain things? Do they know about nutrition?
  • What do you think will be the 'next big thing' in nutritional benefits? 

All input and/or experiences would be lovely to read here!

Although a fee has been offered for the writing of this post, I have only been provided with a list of guideline questions to answer using my own experiences. Therefore, everything you read in this post is 100% personal to The Munchkin Patch!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Our adventures In The Night Garden!

The day we returned to the magical world of the Pinky Ponk!

On Friday, 1st June, 2012, mummy and daddy took me to a world I'd visited before. To a special garden created only for those with big imaginations. This was the day we returned to The Night Garden!

Clockwise from Top Left:
Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy, The Tombliboos and Makka Pakka

For those that may not be very familiar with this special place, here is a little background information about exactly what you have been missing out on!!

In The Night Garden is a BBC children's television series, aimed at children aged from one to four years old. It is produced by Ragdoll Productions, and produced by Andrew Davenport and Anne Wood, both of whom co-created TeletubbiesThe programme features a large cast of colourful characters with unusual names who live in an area of sparsely wooded grassland scattered with large daisies and brightly-coloured balls of flowers. The characters mostly speak short, repetitive phrases. In the Night Garden is intended to help children relax and achieve calming relationships with parents.

The special, purpose built In The Night Garden Dome that travels with the cast and crew throughout the tour!
Once again, the magical stage is travelling around to some famous UK venues, encased within this amazing purpose built inflatable dome. And on this day, we saw the dome had been placed inside The O2 complex. A dome within a dome - how clever! I had never been to London's O2 before, and I was fascinated! It was huge, and bustling with atmosphere. And to top it off, as we approached the familiar white dome, I spotted something I recognised right outside the entrance. Well, more 'some things' than 'something'!

Right there outside the inflatable dome were the 5 Haahoos. These fun, friendly, cushiony characters were so tall, I couldn't see all the way to the top! Believe me when I say ... those Haahoos were THIS big ...

We were very lucky to have had the chance to see these 'larger then life' characters that are usually seen bouncing around the Night Garden in a tranquil fashion as they were only present at the O2 in London, and are not being transported to any of the other venues. So I was really excited that we were there on this day to see them!

Me and mummy in front of the Haahoos!
As we approached the door to the Night Garden's Dome, we were immediately welcomed by a friendly face waiting to check our tickets and hand us our complimentary programme, a bonus included with every ticket! The programme is actually an Activity Book too, so information for mummy and daddy and some colouring time for me!

We had the pushchair with us (which is quite unusual these days!) but mummy said the day could involve quite a lot of walking, so we took it just in case. Also, mummy said it was ok to take it with us as there is plenty of dedicated space especially for prams and buggies to be kept. We therefore left the pushchair there before we were pointed in the direction of the auditorium and our seats. We had tickets for Standard seating, and managed to sit on the front row of our designated section. However, wherever we had managed to sit, I know that I would have been able to see the stage clearly, as he design of the auditorium is perfect for little people!

Waiting patiently for the show to start
So as we sat and waited for The Pinky Ponk show to begin (The Pinky Ponk show is shown alternately with The Ninky Nonk show each day throughout the tour), the dome was filled with he familiar sounds from the Night Garden as images could be seen moving around the ceiling. Every couple of minutes, the Pinky Ponk could be seen floating over our heads amongst these images. Whilst some live concerts rely on the use of strobe lighting and smoke machines to excite their crowds, today, all we needed was colourful projections of the Titifers overhead and hundreds of bubbles floating around the auditorium to evoke an excited atmosphere!

The show presents us with the story of Makka Pakka visiting his friends around the Night Garden with his Og-Pog and special sponge & soap, washing everyone's faces. Something Makka Pakka loves to do! 

Makka Pakka with his Og-Pog, sponge and soap
Everything goes smoothly, until he manages to lose his sponge which ends up bouncing uncontrollably around the Garden. The atmosphere amongst the audience remained lively and excitable all the way through the performance, and enthusiastic cheers resounded throughout every time a character appeared on the stage! There were plenty of opportunities to join in with the singing and dancing, and I took advantage of every single opportunity! I was fixated!

Once again, the cast and crew needed to be applauded on the fluidity of the script and the flawless, innovative way in which the plot is developed. With Iggle PiggleUpsy Daisy and Makka Pakka were all played by actors inside suits, there were points when Makka Pakka would appear as a clever puppet when he stands next to his larger friends to keep the idea of proportions as 'real' as possible. The Pontipines and Tombliboos were also puppets that were expertly operated by the appropriately dressed, talented crew members who worked perfectly together, keeping the magic of the characters alive!

The Tombliboos and their genius Puppeteers!
I loved everything about the show, and the large electric fans all around the edge of the auditorium remained switched on full the whole time, helping to keep the dome at a comfortable temperature. I was, however, having so much fun during the show, I don't think anything else mattered too much at the time!

Best friends - Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle
Dancing on the famous Gazebo!
Once the show was over, we made our way out of the auditorium and returned to the entrance area of the Dome where we had the opportunity to purchase In The Night Garden merchandise including soft character toys, T shirts and balloons, all at reasonable prices! The process of clearing the auditorium was hassle and crowd free. With exits and both sides of the seating area, everyone was able to leave the area calmly and without queuing! The entrance area was also the place in which we waited for our turn to meet Upsy Daisy. Tickets to meet either Upsy Daisy or Iggle Piggle are available at the time of booking your tickets, or, subject to availability, can be purchased on the day of your visit for £15. For this price, young fans get the chance to meet and talk to their favourite character, and have a souvenir photograph taken by a member of the fantastic team. A number of photos are taken, giving you the opportunity to view all and choose your preferred print at the sales desk afterwards.

Me and Upsy Daisy - she's my FAVOURITE!
Upsy Daisy was as cheerful and friendly as she was when I met her back in September 2011. The ladies that managed the number of children waiting to meet their favourite characters were brilliant. They were friendly and told me that Upsy Daisy was really excited about meeting me! That was a lovely thing to hear. Members of the team were on hand at all times, meaning that someone was nearby to help with whatever we needed. 

Dancing amongst the flowerbeds!
In The Night Garden Live 2012 runs until 23rd September at the following venues:

Old Deer Park, Richmond, London         16th June - 30th June 2012
Brent Cross, London                           7th July - 22nd July, 2012
The Trafford Centre, Manchester           18th August - 2nd September, 2012
Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham              9th September - 23rd September, 2012

... So there is still time to book your seats at a venue suitable for you!

Visit www.nightgardenlive.com to check availability and to book tickets!

This was a simply amazing day out, and one that clearly creates a feeling of magic in audience members of all ages ... even mummies and daddies!! 

Although we received complimentary tickets to In The Night Garden Live for the purpose of the Review, all thoughts and opinions about our day out are entirely our own!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Family Fun with Peter Pan!

"Second to the right, and straight on 'til morning"

On the 28th May, 2012, I joined mummy and daddy on a trip to The Queens Theatre in Hornchurch, Essex, to see their latest Family Production - Peter Pan. Recently, Peter Pan has been on our television on a regular basis. I have always been a big Tinkerbell fan, and when mummy explained to me that Tinkerbell's best friend was called Peter Pan, I figured it was a story that I would like to explore a little more! From my initial viewing of the classic Disney adaptation, I was engrossed! I was, therefore, very excited about the show!

I selected the perfect outfit for the occasion and insisted that Tinkerbell must come along for the evening too. She didn't even need a ticket!

We were greeted at the door with our tickets and a programme for the show, and I appeared to get lots of comments about my outfit! I spent a little time wandering and dancing around the lively foyer, weaving in and out of groups of excited children waiting patiently to be shown to their seats. Once again, the service we received from all of the theatre staff was wonderful. You may remember that we visited The Queens Theatre back in December 2011 to experience the magic of their Christmas Pantomime, Cinderella, and loved everything about that evening out too! Cut to the Chase, the theatre's resident company of actors and musicians, excelled in every way for that festive production, so when we learned that a handful of the same faces would take on leading roles in this show too, we were looking forward to it even more! You can read our review of our night at the Panto here. Once again, we were issued two booster seats to ensure that I could see the entire stage clearly. 

Needless to say, the whole stage area was easy to see. The beautifully designed set, structured on two levels, contributed towards my building excitement. As the auditorium gradually filled up, an 'old lady' discreetly appeared on the stage, pacing around, up and down the stairs on set, whilst clutching a bunch of colourful balloons. A young, smartly dressed man also walked onto the side of the stage, and casually winds an old barrel organ. Then, the story began. A story which, as it develops, utilises the same set throughout. Starting with the 3 children, Wendy, John and Michael Darling enjoying a picnic in Kensington Gardens, and a story being enthusiastically read to them by Mr J M Barrie, but would also create the scene for the Nursery and later, the enchanting Neverland!

J M Barrie (Jonathan Markwood) reads to Wendy (Kate Robson-Stuart), John (Matthew James) and Michael (Greg Last) as Mrs Moon (Simon Jessop) looks on.
Photography by Nobby Clark

The much loved, well known features of the story of Peter Pan have not been forgotten, no matter how difficult they might be to depict on the stage. From Nana the loyal family 'nursemaid hound' to the infamous Tick-Tock the Crocodile, nothing has been forgotten! With Tinkerbell taking the form of a tiny bright light on the end of a lamplighter, carried by Natasha Moore (who also plays the part of Tiger Lily, Liza and the Lamplighter) would alert the audience to her presence with the song from a tin whistle, everything was cleverly thought out to ensure that the crowd remained captivated throughout. 

Once again, the cast were absolutely brilliant, and what they lacked in numbers was definitely not missing in stage presence and pure vibrancy! The majority of the actors and actresses, barring some who would be needed on stage for most scenes, adopted the roles of more than one character, which was really effective! Together, they brought mystery, endearment, comedy and empathy to this well known story. With clever and inventive use of props, they definitely made me want to explore the magic and wonder that is Neverland!

Peter Pan (Dylan Kennedy) shares his dreams of never growing up with the innocent Wendy (Kate Robson-Stuart)
Photography by Nobby Clark
The Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael are played by Kate Robson-Stuart, Matthew James Hinchliffe and Greg Last, portray the innocence of childhood sweetly brilliantly. Whilst Dylan Kennedy shows the cheeky and artful side of youth. Jonathan Markwood affectionately recites stories to the children as J M Barrie before transforming this friendly persona into that of an irate, short tempered pirate, Captain Hook. A role that is beautifully complimented by his comedic, slapstick sidekick, Smee, perfectly played by Simon Jessop who we also see as Mrs Moon - the balloon seller early in the show. The other pirates played by Callum Hughes, Sam Kordbacheh and Alison Thea-Skot bounce off of one another wonderfully throughout. A quality that is also seen as their parts of the lost boys.

The comical Lost Boys - Callum Hughes, Sam Kordbacheh and Alison Thea-Skot
Photography by Nobby Clark
The music was fantastic, both in its composition and performance, especially with the instruments being played on the stage by the characters of the story, rather than being hidden away in the Pit! The action on stage flowed perfectly from beginning to end! The atmosphere buzzing around the auditorium was lively and enthusiastic as excited spectators, of ALL ages, joined in with cheers and boos, helping to make the whole evening the excellent experience that it was!

"If you believe in fairies, then clap your hands! Stand up ... stand up and clap. And stamp your feet and cheer!"

Needless to say ... I clapped and cheered harder and louder than I ever have! Tinkerbell was relying on me!

Peter Pan's Statue in Kensington Gardens, London
This well loved story of the boy who never wanted to grow up has been reproduced in a number of different ways over the years, each taking its own captivating and magical direction on the original story. As with all of these, this fantastic stage adaptation uses twists and turns in a way that stays true to the original script whilst flavouring it with some very clever and cunning techniques!

The whole evening at The Queens Theatre was, once again, fun and welcoming. As mentioned earlier, the staff were helpful and approachable, and everything was very well organised, meaning we were never met with crowds or confusion at any point of our visit. Even when mummy wanted to get me changed into my pyjamas after the performance (it was a late night for me!) which meant we needed to go downstairs into the Theatre Bar area during its busiest period, navigating our way to the restrooms was 100% hassle free! There was even a lift to take us down, meaning I didn't need to risk taking the stairs in my extra tired and worn out state! It would seem that absolutely everyone is catered for at The Queens Theatre!

For performance details of this magical family production including times, dates and booking availability, visit The Queens Theatre website!

Peter Pan 
26th May - 16th June, 2012
By J M Barrie
Adapted by Vicky Ireland
Music & Lyrics by Steven Markwick

We received complimentary tickets for the performance, but all opinions are entirely our own!