Saturday 23 November 2013

Gruffalo Live 2013 at the Lyric London West End REVIEW

This is what we were up to today (actually I can only say today for another 8 minutes)!

at the Lyric London

The Gruffalo Live 2013 The Lyric
The above photos were taken by me when we met the cast after the show.  This one I am about to show you was taken by the official press photographer who was there:

We were very lucky to have press passes so we met the cast after the show, AND had a picnic in the fox's underground house the stalls bar :-)  I piled our plate high (because it was for both of us) but we polished it off so quickly that Aaron headed off, plate in hand to get some more.  SO cute he came back with just 1 sandwich (for him) and 3 strawberries.  I said Aaron "you don't eat strawberries why did you get them?" to be told "I got them for you Mummy" - sometimes he truly melts my heart!

This photo below was before the show, when nerves about meeting the GRUFFALO hadn't hit him yet (photos above were taken after the show, after the picnic, when we met the cast):

Book tickets here

So, over to the review.  First a bit of background.

Tall Stories
Taken from the Souvenir Postergramme:
"Tall Stories' magical musical adaptation of the award-winning picture book by former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson MBE and Alex Scheffler (Illustrator) is back in the West End for Christmas for the 6th time and will be on tour in the UK throughout 2014!  .... Through rehearsals, we worked with the performers, designers and composers to come up with the production which opened at Chester Gateway Theatre in May 2001.  A few weeks later, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler came to see the show as we sat nervously in the wings. Fortunately, the show got their approval and both have been back to see the production as it has developed over time".

The Book
Taken from the Souvenir Postergramme:
"First published 14 years ago, the book has sold over 5 million copies worldwide, been named the nation's favourite story book in a Radio 2 poll and even has an Oscar nomination under its belt for the fabulous TV adaptation.  Throughout 2014, watch out for the "15 years of The Gruffalo" celebrations as the world continues to go G-G-G-Gruffalo mad!"

The cast
  • Tom Crook - The Gruffalo
  • Susanna Jennings - Mouse
  • Timothy Richley - Predators/Narrator

Upon entering the auditorium, I immediately liked the set design, and thought it was better than We're Going on a Bear Hunt's (the last show that we saw).  Aaron chose his seat, but I had to shimmy him along a few, to our allocated ones.  Because he is 3 years of age, he is starting to recognise the number 3 everywhere and wanted to sit on the seat with a 3 instead of ours = 10 and 11.  He was happy and very excited but then the lights dimmed so he got off his seat, and hid, like this! With his Gruffalo stick (that costs £4 from the cloakroom where you buy drinks on the way in - cash only).

The opening lines had him intrigued but he wouldn't get up.  Luckily I knew not to push it and just waited for him to get nosey curious enough to raise his head to be able to see.  It took a matter of seconds! :-)

He soon realised that the two people on stage were one, both lovely and two, there wasn't yet a Gruffalo in sight.  Funny that he was scared as he had seen TWO trailers with me at home, (this one and this one) which I deliberately got him to watch so that he wouldn't be!

This was the back of his head, once he was hooked!

If you would like to see really good pictures of the cast and get a good feel for the show before you go, I highly recommend these photos here: The Gruffalo Live London 21st November 2013  

Good things:
  • The show is only 55 minutes long and is totally the right duration for little ones.  Perfect for my 3 1/2 year old.  No interval which means you don't have the drama of navigating the crowds but it does necessitate a toilet visit pre-show.  There aren't any dull bits (like at the cinema) where you can sneak off to the loo!
  • The script pays more respect to the book than We're Going On A Bear Hunt did.  I did have to be really vigilant to catch the actual phrases from the book though, as they are given just a smidgen of extra emphasis.  It was cute when Aaron joined in with a couple - we know the book SO incredibly well.
  • The actress who plays the MOUSE is AWESOME.  Her twitchy mannerisms and sheer energy/enthusiasm bounce off the walls.  She doesn't treat the show as just children's theatre. No, she gets into character and really draws you in.  It feels actually like she is the star of the show, rather than the Gruffalo himself.
  • The way the tail of the mouse is used as a method for the fox, owl and snake to be predatory REALLY works.
  • The Gruffalo's costume is spectacular, it has to be said!
  • The music and lyrics are really good (again better than We're Going on a Bear Hunt) but I wasn't decided on whether to buy the CD that is on sale at the theatre for you to buy.
  •  At the beginning of the show, when the mouse mentions the Gruffalo for the first time - in keeping with the fact that "there's no such thing as a Gruffalo" - she gets the audience to help her say the word, which really works and is the beginning of quite an interactive show!
  • The Gruffalo Live is worth spending some time on before you see the show - beautiful website!
  • All of the actors give believable child-friendly upbeat energetic performances.  It is a show that children and adults will both love and to be highly recommended if you are fans of the book (or books! if you also have The Gruffalo's Child).  Our books are hard back ones that my friend Siobhan gave Aaron.  In fact every page is hard - they're really robust (Macmillan £6.99 each).
  • The show is incredibly easy to get to with it being right by Piccadilly Tube Station.
  • I love the way the mouse wishes everyone a Merry Christmas at the end when she is victoriously eating her nut! She deserves to be proud after scaring everyone in the deep dark wood.
  • Memory told me that the Gruffalo was too jolly and not scary, and I just remember him dancing a lot, but I have the book next to me as I write this review and it reminds me that the Gruffalo does go with the mouse to meet the snake, owl and fox, and this was all done incredibly well.  A memory has also sprung to mind of where the mouse hides between the Gruffalo's leg and he says "I can see a mouse's bottom" and pulls her out by her tail.  References to poo or bums/bottoms never fail to get a laugh from children!
  • I particularly liked the way the Gruffalo and the mouse stomped, to indicate that they were walking through the wood.

My only criticisms would be:
  • Whenever they made reference to the Gruffalo's eyes being orange it seemed off that they weren't.  Thanks to meeting him I think I can see orange lenses in my photos, but I think he needs tailor made orange type swimming goggles or some such thing, (obviously with discreet straps) so that even in row H, where we were, you can see it.  The same applies to his non-black tongue.  When they described his tongue as black, on stage, he simultaneously stuck it out and it was neither long, nor black.  See no black tongue and no orange eyes!
  • The Gruffalo actor is cheerful enough, as is his costume, so I think they can afford to be a bit more dramatic and a tad scary with his entrance.  I didn't find this dramatic enough!  Even little kids like to be a tiny bit frightened, which is why they spend half their time hiding behind corners and then saying BOO! which Aaron is yet to get bored of.  The Gruffalo is quite dancey when he enters, which is a shame, after all of the buildup to his much anticipated arrival.
  • I found the campness of the s-s-s-s-snake (mannerisms and costume) a tad irritating if I am totally honest.  I feel bad saying it, as I received free entrance for Aaron and I, but I have to be truthful in this review.  Similarly, I found it odd that the owl had to be a military character, where the owls in the deep dark wood were some kind of forest RAF.  I'd say the only predator who escapes my criticism would be the fox.  But then I like a good fox in every children's story (I especially like doing my fox voice when reading to Aaron)!
  • The only drinks to buy on the way in were coke, diet coke, water or Fruit Shoots.  Anyone who knows my blog knows I hate Fruit Shoots but thanks be to god they were the good ones - My 5 - which have no nasties so Aaron gulped it down.  For my coke, Aaron's my 5 and the £4 Gruffalo stick it was £9.  The Gruffalo stick has already become a treasured souvenir so I would heavily recommend getting one.  Get their relatively early as they go like hotcakes.  I think they sold 80 of them yesterday.
Bless my Aaron; I got my stories mixed up at one point and I said this is where the mouse will get up and form a big scary shadow and say she carries a nut as big as a boulder.  My little 3.5 year old was so quick to point out to me that no! That is from The Gruffalo's Child (which we read very often).  Yes, of course, he is right! Silly Mummy!

All in all I would give the show 4 out of 5 stars.  If the snake wasn't quite so annoying, and the Gruffalo was a tiny bit more scary, it would easily be a five!!!!!  WELL WORTH seeing and if you are Gruffalo fans don't even hesitate.  It won't ruin the book for you, as I have read it twice since home, and am still able to read it in our much loved rhythm.  

The show is running from 21st November 2013 to 12th January 2014 IN LONDON.

BUT it then goes on: tour NATIONWIDE so this is far from a London affair.  So no matter where in the country you are, get booking!

Disclosure: I was given free entrance for Aaron and I, which luckily included a picnic and photos with the cast.  All words, opinions and photos here are mine and mine alone.  I haven't been told what to say and neither have I been asked or pressured to give a favourable review!  In fact I would love to say thank you for the opportunity to review this show.  Was a real pleasure.  If the family we had the picnic with are reading this *waves* then a massive hello and hugs to you all!  Aaron REALLY enjoyed playing with Archie and as for how patient his Dad was, allowing Aaron to play fight with him - phenomenal patience of a saint.  Was also a pleasure to chat to a like-minded Mum #mwah xxx


  1. Ooooh this looks amazing - off to look whether it's coming close to me, what a through review.

  2. Aw I wish I had little kids just to take them! Love the book I used to read it to the children when I was working in a school

    1. Oh we love the book but *whispers* we like the Gruffalo's Child even more xx

  3. agh this looks like so much fun! great review! x

  4. Sounds like the perfect length for a kids show - and bless, how happy does Aaron look! Looks like a fab show x

    1. see if it is coming to a theatre near you ;-) xx

  5. We saw the Gruffalo live at LolliBop last year and we thought it was amazing. Eliza was a little young at the time but Isaac was enthralled from beginning to end. I want to see Room on the Broom now

    1. Ooooh I have not heard of Room on the Broom. Our first time at Lollibop was this year and they didn't have it this time (The Gruffalo) ah well. Aaron's really looking forward to this year's Lollibop though.


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