This past weekend I celebrated a bit of a milestone with my daughters.
As a fan of almost any type of live theatre or dance (really, I’ve had visions of Nutcracker annual traditions dancing in my head since my first daughter was born five years ago), I have been looking forward to the moment I can start taking my children to live productions.
So I jumped at the chance when Ottawa Mommy Club asked if I wanted to review this show – a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a small bird who teaches the Chinese Emperor the value of simple things and true friendship.
For those unfamiliar with the company, Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre was founded by John Nolan and Kathy MacLellan, they have been touring across Canada and the US since 1978. With musician Russell Levia, they do over 100 performances a year and aim to create an intimate theatre experience for school and family audiences with shows generally targeting children from Kindergarten through Grade Six.
Realizing my youngest was, well, a bit young, I brought my mother along in case she didn’t have the … attention required for the show.
I needn’t have worried.
Before it even started, John was actively engaging with the young audience and parents to facilitate everyone’s enjoyment of the show. He explained seating: encouraging those who could to sit on the floor near the action, while younger children and adults could grab the chairs a bit further back. He also warned parents that there were some louder noises that sometimes concerned younger children and if this occurred, it was fine to step outside for a break.
Once the show began my children were both captivated. John and Kathy moved between narration and manipulation of the puppets and simple props in plain view of the audience, which let the kids see how everything worked. At the same time Russell’s music and variety of sounds – including strings, penny whistles, cymbals and drums – complimented the story.
The narration and expressive presentation and humour worked well with the kids. At times John would bring the puppets right up to various kids at moments that worked in the play, and repeat expressions and funny voices got them laughing. Other times I caught my kids swaying to the music.
Then at the end, the kids had a chance to ask questions and come up and see the puppets and props. What was the red fan supposed to be? Did the nightingale music box really break? Are the puppets real? Can you explain all the instruments? How did you make the puppets? Can we hold the parasol? How about a picture with the puppets?
They responded to all questions and queries with informative and thoughtful answers.
As for my kids behaving? My 5-year-old, aside from a mysterious inability to sit cross-legged on her own and so needing me or granny on the floor with her, was great.
As for my 2-year-old? She was “ooo-ing and ahhhing” and laughing at appropriate times until about the last 10 minutes when she suddenly noticed the child sitting behind us and, well, we managed to keep her mostly quiet. But if it hadn’t been concluding we’d have taken her out. So she wasn’t quite ready for a 50 minute show. But soon.
All told, we’ll be back. Rag & Bone’s next show – The Story of Holly & Ivy runs Nov. 21 to 25 at Centrepointe and Dec. 10 to 13 at the Shenkman Arts Centre.
Tickets are $10 a person, or 4 for $32. Information on the rest of their season and plays coming in the New Year are available on their website.
I encourage you to check it out.
Photo credits: Photos are used with permission from Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre.
Disclosure: I received the above mentioned tickets for review. All opinions are honest and my own.
Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre Giveaway
Enter to Win 4 Tickets to Any Rag and Bones Puppet Theatre Shows valid until June 2015!
Click HERE to view the shows!
Giveaway ends on December 7, 2014 at 11:59pm.
Rules: Open to Ottawa Area residents 18 +. You have 48 hours to reply by email once you are notified as the winner. If you don’t, we will draw another entry. Prize is non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted. The selected winner must correctly answer a mathematical question in order to win the prize mentioned above. The Ottawa Mommy Club is not responsible for prize fulfillment and for the delivery/shipment of the prize(s) mentioned above. For our complete set of rules, please click here.