Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
My children have been wanting to watch Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom Live from the moment the posters went up in the Victoria Theatre window (27-28 May 2017), so this show really had to deliver for them. My daughter is 5 and my son is 2 and a half.
We have been to this theatre numerous times and always find it to be well organised with plenty of friendly staff and really comfortable seating. The only disappointment for the children was that whilst the sweets kiosk was open, the popcorn stand was not. A minor thing, but unusual as it is part of the experience for us.
There was an array of Ben & Holly merchandise to purchase in the main foyer; naturally it was a little over priced (it is Ben & Holly after all) but some really lovely toys and accessories. They also sold some balloons on the way out so be prepared to take advantage of, or avoid, that one as you see fit.
The show itself stayed true to the television show. In the opening section it was about introducing the characters whilst they played a game, and really getting the children over the excitement of seeing Ben & Holly on stage I felt. Initially I did think there wasn’t a lot going on, but you have to realise that a show like this is targeted more at toddlers, and seeing the look of awe on my little boy’s face told me that they had pitched it perfectly (he is now convinced that Ben is his friend).
Once the main characters had been introduced, Nanny Plum took Ben, Holly and Garston to collect a tooth from Lucy, a big person, as Nanny Plum is also the Tooth Fairy. Things didn’t go quite to plan, and Lucy ended up coming back to visit the Little Kingdom for King Thistle’s birthday celebrations. Cue lots of singing and silliness.
The show lasted around 1 hour, not including the interval, which was perfect for younger children. It included the common themes of the television show, such as turning Ben into a frog, a jelly flood, spells going wrong, the Elf Band and the Wise Old Elf thinking that all magic leads to trouble. There were plenty of songs, and even the song that most children would know from the television show “Old King Thistle is a very old King…”.
Audience participation in the initial hide and sick game, and singing and dancing kept the children captivated, and silly little effects such as Garston the Ladybird crying so that water sprayed into the audience.
The set was bright and ever changing, and the characters were designed as people wearing model “heads” of the characters. They looked great! The way that they depicted Lucy as a “big person” was so simple but perfect for children.
A hi-light for me was the flying scene at the end of the first half; puppets were used, the lights dimmed and smoke pumped onto the stage whilst they sang a gorgeous song. It was so lovely, magical and innocent, as childhood should be.
The finale was fabulous, with much of the audience on their feet dancing and singing. The whole show was well thought out and choreographed. The actors clearly worked hard to get this right and remain in character with every movement they made.
I have been ordered by my children to award the show 5 stars out of 5… and I have to agree. There is nothing negative to say! It stayed true to the television show and delivered exactly what the children wanted within a beautiful set.
Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom Live is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tour dates visit www.benandhollylive.com.
For other shows at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax visit www.calderdale.gov.uk/victoria.
Victoria Theatre, Fountain Street, Halifax HX1 1BP | 01422 351158