“ Location: Kings Theatre, Glasgow / Type: Musicals „
Today we were lucky enough to be able to go and see the Thomas Live show at Doncaster Dome. This is quite a small venue and we have seen previously a little big show produced by the same company at this venue. That show was not as good as the Thomas show we were treat to today.
Arriving at the Dome, we queued to enter the hall that the perfomance was taking place in. We were able to get into the venue quickly and take our seats. We were sat near the back of the hall so had a good view of the stage area.
The scene we could see as we waited for the show to start showed the island of Sodor, with a bridge, a waterfall, and a shed. This scene was brought back to the front a few times during the show, and was interesting to look at while we waited for the show to start as we could talk to our kids about what they could see on the stage.
My children have never been massive Thomas fans, but they do watch it on the television occasionally and are familiar with the characters so we were excited for our first glimpse of the trains on stage.
The show started by introducing us to Sir Topham Hat (AKA The Fat Controller), and we were treat to a musical number featuring some of the train drivers. We didn't have to wait long until Thomas appeared on the stage.
To the kids amazement, the engines were really big - big enough for the drivers to get into and drive along stage. The look on my 3 year olds face was magical as he saw Thomas for the first time and realised what he was seeing.
The storyline behind the show was that a circus was coming to Sodor, and they had not been given any notice of its arrival. Gordon was supposed to go to meet the circus trucks, and take them to a farmers field to set up for the show. However, Thomas decides he should do the job instead to be really useful. Only the trucks are too heavy for him to pull and he ends up breaking down. The strongman from the circus helps repair him, and they all arrive at the farm, but they cause absolute chaos and scare all the animals. The farmer won't let the circus set up in his field any more, but can Thomas come up with a solution and save the day?
I have been to a fair few childrens shows in my time, and some of them are quite excrutiating as my kids have not seen enough on stage to capture their interest. The combination of musical numbers, audience participation, and the presence of the engines on stage really captured my kids today and it made it a really pleasant experience. Looking around the hall, all the kids from babies to toddlers, to bigger kids were all getting a lot out of it. A baby sat on its mums knee next to me was bouncing around excitedly. One boy of about 6/7, was having a really good dance along next to his dad on the end of the row below us. My 3 year old was sat in silent awe, while my 4 year old was foot stamping, clapping, and shouting 'He's behind you' for all he was worth.
Sure, some of the show was a little cheesy. The clown from the circus was a bit repetitive and just a bit annoying, but i wasn't sat there as a parent waiting for the show to finish. There were 2 halves to the show, each about 40 minutes with a 20 minute interval in the middle. This was pretty much ideal for this show.
I think ideally this show would be better in a slightly bigger venue than Doncaster dome as it would mean there was a bigger stage area for the engines to move around on, but in some ways it also worked really well as we felt as though we were close to the stage and the kids could see all that was happening.
Pricewise - This venue was selling a family ticket for £45, or adults for £15 and children for £12. In my opinion this show is worth paying that much for. Most childrens shows seem to be this sort of price. In this case, i feel it was justified.
The show has been touring the UK for about 6 months. It is nearing the end of the tour, but it will be at Doncaster Dome again on the 15/05/11. It then moves to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on the 18th and 19th of June, and Manchesters Opera House on the 25th and 26th of June.
To add to our great experience today, we had a connection which meant that we could go backstage after the show and my little ones got to go and meet Thomas and Percy. This was a really wonderful experience for them, which i think they will be talking about for a long time.
Thanks for reading my review.
Thomas The Tank Engine was introduced as a fictional steam train in a set of books known as The Railway Series. These books were written by Rev. W. Awdry and his son and came into production in 1946. In 1984, a new television show was premiered named Thomas and Friends and it is then that we were introduced to some new trains to keep Thomas company!
Thomas and Friends is set on the fictional island of Sodor which depicts an English countryside. It is colourful and different variations of the programme have been created with the characters visibly talking and voice overs being used. Thomas merchandise is widely available including traditional train sets and tracks, DVDS, toys and even clothes.
*~*~*Meeting The Trains*~*~*
Here is a little about the main trains and characters we have come to love over the years.
*Thomas - the most important of all the trains! Thomas is the cheeky one who although a bit silly at times, always does his best to prove how useful he is. Predominately blue with a cheeky smile, Thomas is the No1 train.
*Percy - Percy is Thomas' best friend who loves to deliver the mail. He is green and is No6.
*Gordon - the fastest and most superior train who has the honour of pulling the express train. Gordon although he means well, can be a bit patronising to the younger trains. He is blue like Thomas but bigger and has a different face. Gordon is no4.
*James - a medium sized engine who gets in trouble alot! James has a shiny red appearance and is no5.
*Fat Controller - His real title is Sir Topham Hatt but due to his round, plump figure he adopted the fat controller title. He controls the rails and all the trains with a firm manner and hasn't aged a bit!
There are so many more engines and characters but these are the ones featured in the show.
*~*~*Bringing Thomas to Life*~*~*
Thomas and Friends came alive on stage in a 90minute show. The show promised sing-a-longs, dancing and adventures. The "plot" of the show centres around Thomas who being Thomas, makes a big mistake! Thomas must prove he is a really useful engine and the main characters of Percy, James, Gordon and the Fat Controller must work with Thomas to prepare for a big event under the Bigtop.
Can Thomas prove he is a very useful engine once again?
*~*~*Where and When?*~*~*
Thomas and Friends are performing in 4 locations within the UK.
*Glasgow KIngs Theatre - 14th - 15th January (our option)
*Milton Keynes Theatre - 26th - 27th March
*New Wimbeldon Theatre - 16th - 17th April
*Woking New Victoria Theatre - 30th April - 1st May
There are generally 4or5 shows over the 2day period with early performances and later performances. We attended the 5pm showing on Saturday 15th January at 5pm.
The Kings Theatre
297 Bath Street
The theatre is wheelchair accessible, guide dogs are welcome and toilets are available for all.
Tickets can be booked through www.ambassadortickets.com. Here we are offered information on the show and offered the chance to book seats for specific areas of the theatre. Group bookings can be made by calling the number listed for each specified theatre. A calender offers you the dates and you can proceed to pick where you would like to sit.
At the time of wishing to book our tickets, the website prompted us to phone and we were told the system was down, they took our details and sent us an email when we could call back and book. We did and I paid for our tickets using my Visa Debit card over the phone. I obtained a booking referrence number and was told to go to the threate 15mins before the show and hand over my debit card for proof of ID.
The ticket prices varied according to where you wanted to sit but not my much. Adults pay full price from £15.00 up to £17.00. Children receive a small discount of £2 taking their tickets from £13.00 up to £15.00. Our tickets for 2 adults and 1 child (age 2) came to £51 inc a small booking fee but was paying direct.
*~*~*Us and Thomas*~*~*
My son will be 3 in May and ever since he took his first ride on a train, he has become obsessed. When we changed his room from Winnie the Pooh to Thomas, it seemed like a natural transistion for a toddler and Thomas has played a big part in his toddler years. Our sons room is all Thomas..a big Thomas bed, curtains, sheets etc. He also has a fun collection of Thomas trains, some track to ride them on and books and dvds with that cheeky smiled train on the front!
Ryan adores Thomas and it prompts him to interact with classic toys. I even liked Thomas as a young girl and the whole Thomas thing has certainly stood the test of time to become a true classic. Our favourite is Thomas but with reading and looking at pictures, Ryan now identifies Percy, James and the Fat Controller as well. After a trip to see Iggle Piggle last year, when hubby announced that he had heard a Thomas show advertised, we smiled and decided it would be the perfect, late Christmas present for Ryan.
I only got around to booking the tickets this week as we had some heavy snow and I didn't want to risk us not getting into Glasgow. Glasgow is a 25min journey by train for use and the theatre is quite far out so we had to leave around 2pm. We heading into the city for dinner at KFC and then made the journey to theatre and what a journey it was!
*~*~*Arrival and Seating*~*~*
We arrived at the Kings Theatre after an awfully long walk from Central Station. I didn't realise quite how long Bath Street actually was and we ended up fairly close to the Mariott and Hilton! We were soaking wet and just wanted in out the cold. Arriving at the theatre, we were met with lots of other Thomas fanatics and were told we needed to fold out buggy at put it in a room. I collected our tickets and only had to confirm my surname and show my debit card. I thought I had booked for the stalls but we had tickets for the grand circle area of the theatre. This isn't my first trip to the Kings and it was equally as beautiful as I remember.
As you enter you are bombarded with a stall with Thomas merchandise and this could have been better suited out of the crowded entrance. The merchandise available included programme books, light up toys, tshirts and bags priced from £5.00 - £12.00. There was also a sweetie and drinks stall on the stairs and the queues were huge! We were ushered up a set of stairs and we sat at a seat whilst Daddy went to buy something for Ryan.
He returned with a stick thing which had a light up Thomas on the end and a programme costing £7.00 and £5.00 respectively. Ushers were around confirming where people had to sit and we had tickets in the E row at the end. We were 5 rows from the front in the grand circle which was quite high up but I was glad not to be at the front especially with my jumpy son! One problem we did experience is that I had to keep getting up to let everyone in and out of the row. We had a good view of the stage and the place was jumping.
We had 3 seats together though as someone sad infront of Ryan, he decided to sit on his Daddys knee for a better view. Daddy nipped out to the loo and returned with a tub of Pringles and a big pack of Minstels costing £4.00 in total. The show atmosphere in the theatre was immense as it was jam packed with children and parents. The theatre itself is stunning and you could just imagine an opera being performed in such amazing surroundings.
*~*~*And On With The Show*~*~*
The show started promptly at 5pm and the lights dimmed bringing excitement to a whole new level. The Fat Controller welcomed everyone and advised no flash photography during the performence. Fair enough as I know that can be a distraction. A group of singers came on stage to perform with the big guy and included the train drivers. The costumes were the same as they would be in the show and films.
It takes a good 5minutes for Thomas to be introduced as the star of the show. Ryan eagerly waited and a random Choo Choo enthralled the audience into a frenzy! Finally he is revealed to his fans and comes alive at Tidmouth Sheds. Thomas was very real in appearance..shiny and blue with all his markings visible. His cheeky face was well known and moved as the voice over talked his cheery voice throughout.
Ryan went crazy at the sight of Thomas and as the other children, waved his toy around. He was even wearing a Thomas tshirt confirming his loyalty! The lighting was just right to see the characters clearly. Thomas was welcomed by the singers who sung a song dedicated to him but it wasn't a song a remember hearing on the show. We were then introduced to Gordon, Percy and James who had been hiding in the sheds.
Once we have met all the characters, Thomas says the wrong thing to the Fat Controller and he tells him he isn't a useful engine. A circus is coming to town with a clown, fancy dancer girl and weight lifter and the engines need to tow the circus truck to the farm on Sodor. Gordon pipes up that being the best engine, he is fit for the job but it all goes wrong when he gets stuck going up a hill. Thomas thinks he is doing good and collects the truck at the docks hauling it to the farm. It goes wrong and he damages his truck leaving everyone stranded.
They eventually get to the farm and Thomas causes chaos and the Fat Controller is once again angry. Showing friendship, Percy comes to help him and they get everything sorted for the circus. More songs encourage audience participation with the classic Thomas and Friends song "we're two, we're four, we're six, we're eight" and Thomas is a useful engine song but most were unknown to us. My son happily joined with the dancing and singing and clapped whilst shouting down to his favourite characters.
The performance at the end was the circus and all the characters came on stage to play tribute to Thomas. The circus was fun and quite funny with the Fat Controller being clumsy (he has a cheek to talk about Thomas!). Streamers were released from fireworks type devices throughout the theatre and the children went wild with excitement. The performers bowed and the curtain fell prompting everyone to leave. We headed out quick, grabbed the buggy and headed for Central Station with a hyper child!
One thing to note is there was an interval lasting 15mins at around 30mins into the performance. Stalls were there selling small pots of ice cream priced at £2.50. There was also a little opening outside the main theatre offering packs of sweets and juice, beer etc. The price list was visible so no nasty surprises but I paid £3.10 for a can of Diet Irn Bru and a large Orange Fruitshoot. The ladies toilets were also pleasant but oldfashioned and there were only 4 which seems a small amount for the size of the theatre.
*~*~*What We Liked*~*~*
Our son loved the show as he loves Thomas. The merchandise wasn't overly expensive compared to some kids shows and there was a good choice but you really couldn't afford to take lots of children! The atmosphere was really good and the place was buzzing! The backdrops on stage were well thought out, bright and colourful and I felt like I was being transported to Sodor so I cannot imagine what the children must have felt!
The performances were brilliant by all involved and we especially liked the fact that the engines had moveable facial expressions and spoke. This is really excited as some of the older episodes of Thomas don't offer this and go by a voice over. The engines moved smoothly around the stage and there were no mishaps. Everything went smoothly and the singers were able to distract the audience whilst props were changed.
My favourite part other than the party at the end focused around the farm where the circus was to be held. The farmer was hilarious and danced around the stage using a fork as a guitar. The singing was brilliant and even the sheep, chickens and pigs contributed. I giggled quite a bit. Ryans favourite part was singing along with the one song he knew from his dvds and of course seeing Thomas as he was so lifelike!
*~*~*What We Didn't Like*~*~*
Hmmm, although I knew the prices we would be paying, I wasn't happy with them. £17.00 for an adult is excessive for a childs show in my opinion and I feel it could have been much better prices. A measly £2 discount for the children isn't ideal either. The cost of the food and drink was average for a kids show but still expensive! I feel they could have offered more choice of sweets as there was nothing suited to toddlers like Milky Bars etc.
The website didn't specify that you weren't allowed to take photographs. I didn't see any sign so I sat taking a few photos with my mobile despite the lighting not being brilliant for photos. I was approached 10mins into the show and asked not to take photos. I was fuming as were a few others as my phone doesn't have a flash and paying over £51.00 should give us the right to take photos for memories! I managed to get a few before being told off.
The show although really entertaining, I found that the singing took over too much. We would have much preferred more interaction from the engines. I felt too much was made of the Fat Controller when Thomas should have had more of a look in. The show focussed too much on the people involved in the circus with the clown making an annoying regular appearance!
The final downside of the show was the length. 90mins (75mins if you forget about the break) is a long time for children or toddlers to sit. Ryan became fidgety around 30mins in so the break was welcome but he was getting tired and plenty of children were getting irate. I suffered with back problems when I sit in the one place for too long and had this issue and am suffering with it now due to the length of time we sat.
*~*~*The Programme Book*~*~*
The book we bought cost £5.00 and it wasn't really worth it. We are keeping it alongside the tickets for a keepsake type thing. The book mainly shows Thomas and has some activities such as counting and matching the engines. It also introduces the show and is bright and colourful to hold my sons attention. The back of the book has Bob Builder on it prompting Ryan to sing that song along with Jingle Bells and Postman Pat all the way home whilst waving his Thomas light.
Taking all things into consideration, I would recommend the Thomas and Friends show. Both myself, my fiance and our son enjoyed the performance but I think it would be better suited to a dome enviroment as the Iggle Piggle tour was. It was expensive as we spent around £100 in total between transport, tickets, food and merchandise and we only have one child!
Thanks for reading x