When I heard that the ‘Room on the Broom’ production was coming to The Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke, I just knew we had to go and see it. Julia Donaldson’s books have become a popular choice in our house along with the films, so to be able to see one brought to life on the stage I thought it was the perfect first show for Jake to attend.
We were welcomed in the foyer by a stand selling Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books plus ‘Room on the Broom’ toys. The prices were quite reasonable and I couldn’t get away without purchasing the dragon now could I?! The staff were very polite and informative at the ticket desk and considering the sheer amount of people and noisy children it was all very organised.
Not being familiar with children’s theatre I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I loved the fact the actors came out prior to the show beginning to make chit chat on stage and with some of the audience with the lights still up. I assumed this was like a warming up session to try and help put the children at ease… it certainly worked because once the lights went down I didn’t hear one child cry. The show follows the main story of the book by using just 4 actors to act out all of the parts. It begins with the four actors being out on a camping trip and trying to get to sleep. However, they begin to hear strange sounds and as they start to hide each one gradually begins to return in a different outfit and as a character from the book. The witch and cat are played by actors and the dog, bird and frog are all puppets. Each actor takes it in turn to swap the puppets, make outfit changes and exit and enter again as different characters.
Yet, these costume changes and introduction of puppets is so smoothly done that it never breaks the story or distracts the audience’s attention. With fun songs, extended dialogue and hilarious moments fit for the adults as well as the kids, the show really expands the story.
I had visions of having to take Jake out part way through because let’s face it, he is a three-year-old boy who cannot hold his attention on one activity for long at the moment – he struggles to get through a film nowadays – but he was pretty much transfixed for the whole hour. He did move seats a few times and asked when the dragon was coming on quite a bit but when something new suddenly happened on the stage his attention was drawn back. He was even up dancing during one of the songs! I went along with 2 friends and their children aged 15, 5 and 4 and there was something for all of them throughout. At one point us adults were laughing our heads off!
The actors really had their work cut out during this show but not once did they falter… there was one very funny minor mistake in the puppet voices but they handled it very well and the guy who was doing the voice of these particular two made a great recovery and covered it up with a joke – pure professionalism! There is no interval either so to remember lines of characters, the lines of the books, having to change puppets and use different voices for each character I can highly praise every single one of them.
To watch my child’s eyes light up over being in the theatre is something I can always treasure and I am so glad we chose this production as his first. If you are looking for a theatre show that will entertain the entire family, is suitable for a three-year-old and is just long enough to hold their attention then ‘Room on a Broom’ is for you. It is currently touring the UK until August 2017. To find out more information and to book your tickets visit Tall Stories here.
Featured image credit “Room on the Broom © Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler”
*We received these tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and my own. For more information please refer to my disclosure page.