March 28

Review: Tom Gates Live on Stage!

My son loves Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates books so when I heard there was a stage version on tour I knew we’d have to go.

We saw the show at the Kings Theatre in Southsea last night – and wow, what a treat. It brilliantly brings the books to life and was hugely enjoyable.

A very likeable young cast bring the characters to life with energy and panache. Full marks for Matthew Chase as Tom, ably supported by Matthew Gordon, Ashley Cousins, Amy Hargreaves, Daniel Harkin, Alice Redmond, Justin Davies and Ebony Wong.

The fast-paced script by Liz Pichon and director Neal Foster is clever and witty, amusing both young and older alike.

I was looking forward to seeing how they would adapt the author’s highly visual stories for the stage and the answer is – with style and ingenuity. Great work by designer Jackie Trousdale.

I might sound ancient for saying it, but it really is clever what they can do on stage these days and, in the case of this show, they have combined the actors with animation, which was both technically brilliant and highly entertaining.

Composer Mark Flannery’s music is really catchy and fun and all mixed together it’s a perfect feelgood show. It really is a cracking night out for children – and their parents will have a great time too  Just one word of warning though: The show might leave you wanting to eat lots of chips – and biscuits, even fig rolls 

Tom Gates Live on Stage is on in Southsea until Sunday and then continues its tour to theatres across the country. Full list of dates can be found by clicking here.

Steve’s rating: ★★★★★

June 5

Lots of arty party fun with Mister Maker

Took the children to see Cbeebies favourite Mister Maker and the Shapes live on Sunday and we were all thoroughly entertained. The television show is a firm favourite in our house and it’s hard not to be swept along on a tide of creative energy that is Mister Maker.

He’s very clearly crazy about craft and the fast-paced television show transfers well to the stage. Mister Maker is joined by four enthusiastic and energetic dancers and, of course, the enigmatic Shapes. There are also songs, some nice audience participation and the show has enough quick-witted repartee to keep us adults entertained.

The script is slick and anything that encourages children to be creative with art is good in my book – but then I am a stationery addict myself! My two older children loved it and our six-week-old baby didn’t seem to mind either. Highly recommended. 🙂


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May 16

365 fabulously inventive things you can make with Lego

The lovely people are Dorling Kindersley have just sent me a cracking book for Lego fans – 365 Things to Do with LEGO Bricks.

It’s a great book for, perhaps, slightly older children who like to build useful stuff with their Lego. It’s absolutely chockablock full of really inventive things you can build with Lego, slightly away from the usual things like castles, garages and houses.

There are hundreds (365, obviously!) of great ideas from building a Lego version of snakes and ladders to a Lego graph to a theatre stage and a rather cool mobile. Among my favourites are a lock and key, a hinged pencil box, a Lego movie set and a box for storing remote controllers.

Dorling Kindersley are masters at publishing beautifully illustrated books and this one is no exception. A fabulous book for inspiring new ideas from your young builders. Highly recommended.

You can order it here: