Angelina Ballerina The Mousical
QPAC Concert Hall
8 – 12 January 2014
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Everyone’s favourite little star Angelina Ballerina pirouettes live onto the stage in her brand new musical – a magical show packed full of singing and dancing with an all UK cast!
Angelina and her friends think their dreams have come true when Camembert Academy wins the opportunity to appear in their favourite television programme ‘Dancing With Mice!’ But when the girls and boys have very different ideas for the show and just can’t seem to agree on anything, it’s up to Angelina as Dance Captain to ensure that the show goes ahead.
Angelina Ballerina The Mousical is recommended for children aged 3 – 6 and I wondered whether or not Poppy would be too old for it but she and a friend enjoyed this production and talked about it afterwards, all the way over to GOMA.
Any time QPAC (or any other venue or presenter) is kind enough to offer a family pass to a show, Poppy and I think quickly, “Which friends have never been to the theatre?” We’ve never had any trouble finding friends who have never been to a show, let alone to a show in Brisbane. This is a slight concern, for a family whose lives just about revolve around theatre and feel very strongly that there needs to be just as much of The Arts as there is sports in everybody’s lives, but it also means we can keep offering the experience of live theatre to somebody new!
The girls were so excited, largely because one of them knew what was happening and one of them didn’t; I kept this trip a surprise for Poppy because she’s lucky to see so much theatre and sometimes I think the novelty must be wearing off! So Mira knew what we were up to, and kept the surprise a secret too. It was only when we got to QPAC and one of the lovely, friendly girls at the bottom of the stairs asked, “Are you going to Angelina Ballerina?” that Poppy’s eyes lit up, and she put two and two together…I’d helped her dress ballerina style after all!
Tip: be organised! Know where you’re going, where you can park, or take public transport, and get to the theatre early enough to sort tickets at the Box Office, have a bite to eat and take little ones to the toilet without having to rush.
We were papped by The Sunday Mail’s photographer, Tara, and took our own pics in front of the media wall, which was another new experience for Mira, but par for the course for Poppy. There were, as expected, some much younger children there, many of them sporting pink flickering mouse ears from the merch stand (it’s a teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall for the Concert Hall gigs, as opposed to the Lyric Theatre’s merch store across the way, being set up before our eyes for The Rocky Horror Show …how excitement!), so the Concert Hall foyer looked more like an Ekka crèche, or Woodford’s Land of Nod on New Year’s Eve. Thank goodness most of the parents had the sense to switch their kids’ ears to “Off” once they were seated and the lights dimmed.
Mira and Poppy enjoyed some reasonably healthy snacks before we went into the show. I don’t let kids eat in the theatre during the show because at seven-nearly-eight years old they’re old enough to wait, and unlike our cinema culture, I think there needs to be a certain level of respect for performers who are working live in a traditional theatre setting. If my child was diabetic or just two or three years of age I might make an exception and throw in a quiet snack.
Tip: pack some yummy snacks for kids. If you don’t, be sure to get there early enough to pick something up. At QPAC I’ve seen desperate mums buying packets of chips from the bar while eyeing off the wine list, but for a healthier option you can take a quick walk beneath the whales and visit the museum café, which offers snack packs for $7.50 (and lunch packs for $10.50).
The show was a little clunky to start. The vocals were lost for a good 10 minutes beneath the volume of the musical tracks, and a strangely placed reprise of the opening number had me worried, but the performers were full of energy, the levels were corrected soon enough, the costumes and the stage looked bright and colourful, and the story proved full of great lessons, which Poppy and Mira agreed were just right, and delivered in beautiful British accents to boot, from the all-UK cast!
Hold a friend’s hand, ask for help when you need it, work hard and work together to make all your dreams come true.
It’s not easy selling a show to kids – sometimes they are the harshest critics – and this smiling ensemble does a fine job. Discerning dance fans may pick up on a couple of demi pointe wobbles and imperfect arms but overall, and bearing in mind the recommended age range, I think we can be a little forgiving. A special appearance from the cutest little ballet girls ever, guests from a local dance studio, earned our delighted giggles and applause for their courage and cute factor.
Not surprisingly, Angelina Ballerina, the only dancer en pointe, was the firm favourite, though the girls said they also enjoyed the Hip Hop mouse, AJ. Within the story, there was a very clear message that girls and boys are different, and I wondered at the repetition of “Ballet Girls and Hip Hop Boys” – are we perpetuating the myths and reinforcing the stereotypes, or just facing plain old truths? In Year Two last year, there was a strong focus on “Busting Stereotypes” so Poppy and Mira were ready to talk about this. She agrees about the stereotypes but all the same – and here’s the power of live theatre and a repeated message – she clapped and cheered for the girls and their ballet, and booed the boys and their Hip Hop! She is giggling about it now as we write this! Over lunch, Poppy and Mira laughed and chanted, “Girls win, boys in the bin! Girls win, boys in the bin!” Mum and I remembered the chants we used to hear, “Boys are strong like King Kong! Girls are weak, chuck ‘em in the creek!” Do you remember a distinct “boys v girls” phase in your primary school days? The Dance Off between the girls and boys, and the final performance of their Dancing With Mice piece for the television audience (us) surely won over anybody with any misgivings about reinforcing stereotypes.
Angelina Ballerina The Mousical is a lovely production. It’s lots of fun for kids, and with enough decent dance and intellect to challenge the slightly older brothers and sisters; you could just about get away with taking the whole family. (The over eights probably not so much!). We noticed a couple of dads and grandfathers there, and the little boys enjoyed the show as much as any of the girls adorned head to toe in their ballet pink! And why would they not? The magic of live theatre is something every child should be experiencing well before Poppy’s age, and the joy of seeing the delight on the face of a little one is really why so many of the grown ups enjoy the children’s shows. There is so much children’s theatre on offer it’s easy to pick a quality production at any time of year. There’s really no excuse for not taking your kids to the theatre! In fact, often there is so much good stuff on in Brisbane it becomes a process of elimination…what can you actually afford to see, in terms of time, cost and energy?
Angelina Ballerina The Mousical must finish on Sunday. Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play continues until January 25 and shake & stir’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts opens tonight at The Roundhouse (we’ll see you there!), and runs until January 18