Friday 29 November 2019

Mr Popper's Penguins Theatre Review: Waterside, Sale (Press Visit)

Last night we were invited to the launch night for Waterside's Christmas Show, Mr Popper's Penguins. We love visiting Waterside, it's one of our favourite venues and the welcome is always warm. Mr Popper's Penguins is a story we all enjoyed, and bringing the penguins to life was a challenge that we were all excited to see.

Pins And Needles production of Mr Popper's Penguins is recommended for children 3-11 and their families, it's full of song, dance, puppetry and formation flying penguins - and it was brilliant.

Mr Popper's Penguins Theatre Review Waterside, Sale (Press Visit)

Waterside is super easy to get to, opposite Sale Tram Station. It's a gorgeous purpose-built building and houses more than just theatre, until 4th Jan they are exhibiting a Cosgrove Hall collection, and it's well worth popping in to see that if you are nearby.

Cosgrove Hall Frame By Frame Exhibition Waterside, Sale Manchester

Our performance was at 7pm and so the boys had the 'Milk and Cookies Packs' - excellent value for a theatre and a real treat that adds something extra. We were really spoilt with front row seats. Visibility is really good at Waterside wherever you sit, but the boys will remember our special seats in front of the mayor for a long while!

Seated on front row at Mr Poppers Penguins at Waterside Sale before show

Mr Popper is a painter and decorator who spends his life daydreaming of Antarctic adventures. He knows everything there is to know about explorers and the North and South poles, but it's all from books. It all becomes a bit more real on the day he receives a packing crate that contains a live penguin. That's when his adventure begins...

Cast of Mr Popper's Penguins with 2 puppet penguins

Living with penguins isn't exactly straightforward and there were some really funny moments which had the audience laughing aloud. If they were anything like me they were also grimacing at the thought of the carpets and flooring when everything thawed!

The acting was superb. Not only were the penguins animated and expressive, the humans were also incredibly believable. It was the 3rd night, but choreography was spot on and everyone looked so comfortable that you'd believe they'd been performing Mr Popper's Penguins for the last month.

Hats off to the performers for what was a very physical performance overall. When you have 2 humans and 10 penguins dancing at once it must be exhausting, add in the fact they were belting out songs and it's a wonder anyone had any breath left. The singing was excellent too - this is a cast with some real talent.

Mr Popper's Penguins review at Waterside Arts Cast on stage with props photo credit Jason Lock

There were some clever set changes and uses of lengths of material to really make a striking difference to what was displayed on the stage, and the boat was immense - in more than one way. The penguins do steal the show though, and their flight in such beautiful formation was really astounding.

Richard and Florence Atwater's story is heartwarming and hopeful, and I think I arrived expecting something more simplistic and innocent. This performance, with catchy songs and specially created penguin puppets actually carried a lot of depth, and my partner shed a tear or 15. It is a real treat for everyone in the family.

Mr Poppers Penguins cast at Waterside Sale baby penguin

We were lucky enough to be able to meet some of the penguins and the human cast afterwards - Will Kelly, Monica Nash, Benedict Chambers and Susanna Jennings, and the unsung hero, the understudy and hidden puppeteer Kat Engall.

Mr Poppers Penguins at Waterside Sale cast photocall with the boys and puppet

Mr Popper's Penguins will be at Waterside until December 31st. Recommended for families with children aged around 3 - 11 years, but you'll all enjoy it. Find out more and book tickets on the Waterside website, or by ringing 0161 912 5616.

BSL Interpreted show / Relaxed performance: Sat 14 December at 11:00. Our BSL interpreter will be situated stage right.

Slumber Shows: All 18:00 shows. If you wish you can come in your pyjamas and bring a favourite bedtime teddy! Milk & Cookie Packs: £2.50 each, reserve your packs when you book your tickets!

Schools: £10. Buy 9 tickets get 1 teacher FREE. Performances for Schools at 10:30 & 13:30 Tuesday to Friday 3rd to 19th December.

Mr Poppers Penguins at Waterside Sale cardboard igloo

We were guests of Waterside in order to review. 

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