A few weeks ago we were contacted by First Direct to go and see the Northern Ballet do Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Leeds. The Northern Ballet are known for their family friendly performances which tour the UK. Every year they have sell out performances and have even done shows for CBeebies! Isabelle takes after me fathers and loves things like films and the cinema so I jumped at the chance to take her to the ballet.
We were sent all the bits and bobs for us to host a Teddy Bears Picnic (which were absolutely awesome by the way! ) to really get us in the mood and we spent an obscene amount of time watching weird foreign YouTube videos (on repeat, anyone with a two year old will feel my pain) of the fairytale to get Isabelle used to the story.
By the time the day came we had really hyped it up to the point where the kid was almost rabid at the idea of seeing the show and was waving her Build a Bear around to the point where Joe could barely see in his rearview mirror.
I’m not going to lie, the journey there was pretty horrific. My darling daughter likes to repeat herself over and over again until you also repeat her so most of it was spent with me wearily saying ‘Yes Belle, Three Bears’ ‘Yes Belle, Goldilocks’ ‘YES BELLE, NEARLY THERE!’. I really thought we had a few more years before the chorus of ‘are we nearly there yet’ was the soundtrack to every car journey. Alas, apparently not.
So, we arrived and found somewhere to park and made our way into the building. It looked great! They had set up a colouring station, a hamper full of teddies for the children to play with, a giant chair with a giant teddy on it that kids were almost fighting to get to. Little paw prints were on the floor and the little touches really made it special for the children. We headed straight to the café for a well deserved coffee and a biscuit before the show.
There was a craft room where the children could make headbands with Goldilocks hair or Teddy Bear ears (or both for the really patient parents) but Isabelle was a little young for that and got walloped around the head with a stapler a few times by some of the older more enthusiastic kids. Law of the Jungle and all that.
Eventually after much colouring, crayon hoarding and an incident where a little girl tried to steal Isabelle’s Build A Bear, we made our way into the theatre.
It is here that I must apologise. My kid went feral. It was witching hour. No one likes to admit when it’s theirs, but there was no mistaking it. Luckily it was dark as my face was beetroot red. We were back row, which meant everyone could turn around and see us and she just lost her tiny mind. It started off as enthusiastic reactions to what was happening on stage ‘OH NO! BROKE THE CHAIR MUMMY!!!’ and eventually ended up with me consoling my sobbing toddler because I had asked her to stop hitting the guy in front with her bear.
The dancers were amazing, the show was great, the set was great and the day was great but I think perhaps that Isabelle was, at 2 years old, just a little too young to really appreciate it. I looked around and saw all of the other children completely entranced by the graceful movements of the dancers and giggling at the silly bears but I think it was a little lost on my little one. She seemed to ‘get’ the story though. She asked for more bears all the way home and is still making me read the Goldilocks and The Three Bears book multiple times a day.
I thought the show was wonderful and my husband was definitely intimidated by the sheer size of the thigh muscles on the guy who played the bird (Goldilocks’ pal).
The show lasted around 35 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time in my opinion to hold the attention of most children (not mine though, Ahem). There were a few people in the corner playing instruments to accompany the performance, which had no talking interestingly, the whole story was done through dance and music. After the performance, we got to meet one of the main engineers at the end who talked us through the set design, walked us around backstage and answered questions from the parents and children. It was very informative and interesting for me, but again, slightly lost on Isabelle.
All in all, a really good day. I would say an age range of maybe 3-4 years and up would be best for this kind of show, so that everyone can really appreciate the skill and grace of the dancers and how cleverly the show was put together. I will definitely be taking Isabelle to see what they have to offer next year and hopefully she will be a little better behaved! It is a great way of introducing fairytales to younger children and really bringing them to life.
For more information or tickets please visit the website.
We received the tickets for this show for the purposes of a review, but all opinions are my own.