Mr Popper’s penguins provide a heart-warming performance on a chilly January day
We first discovered children’s theatre at the Rose in Kingston four years ago when our eldest daughter, Amelia, was two years old and just about able to sit still for an hour. We occasionally journey further afield for our theatre fix, to the west end or even Edinburgh fringe festival, but for our family no theatre compares to the Rose for a stress-free theatre trip with three little girls in tow. Admittedly the fact that it is a short bus journey from home, and the multitude of child friendly restaurants for post theatre lunch, work heavily in its favour. But the theatre works for families many more levels. The Rose has none of the windy steps and corridors of older theatres that are difficult to navigate with three small children and all their paraphernalia. The light and airy cafe in the entrance hall greets you with the delicious smell of coffee and cake, the children’s play area is well equipped with carefully chosen toys, the buggy park is very easily accessible and the staff always friendly and helpful.
The story of Mr Popper and his penguins was new to us, and so we weren’t sure if they would meet the girls expectations. Especially when we overheard Florence, our animal loving three year old, asking her big sister if the penguins were going to be real as they got ready to leave for the theatre. Despite the lack of live animals, Mr Popper and his Penguins did not fail to delight Amelia & Florence and even baby Nancy seem to be captivated for a while.
As the lights went down, the audience full of excited little people fell silent with anticipation, and the fun began. We met Mr Popper, a frustrated painter and decorator with an imagination that many of the younger members of the audience could identify with, and passion for all things Antarctic. Then thanks to clever puppetry we met the stars of the show, the Penguins. Parents smiled knowingly as we watched Mr Popper and his wife adapt to sharing their home with the Penguins, with many phrases that are all too familiar in our house… The sofa isn’t a trampoline etc etc. The adventure continued and the Penguins multiplied. The circus scene was a highlight, with a seamless performance from the Penguins and their puppeteers. As the story moved to the Antarctic, snow began to fall in the auditorium and the children were enthralled to the very end. For the finale the smaller members of the audience then all took to their feet for a penguin dance and song.
We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this production to any family with small children, in particular those with a love of penguins. The performances were outstanding, particularly Mr Popper. The music and lyrics were witty and engaging for all ages and the puppets very appealing. We were very pleased to find some of the songs available to listen again on the theatre’s website so spent the afternoon singing along at home. We also hope that the book will make it onto our bedtime story list soon.
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Lucy, Chris, Amelia (6), Florence (3) and Nancy (0!) were provided with tickets to see Mr Popper’s Penguins but all views are their own.