BWW Reviews: THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA, a delightfully whimsical interactive musical play for children.
Wednesday 10 December 2014, Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, Sydney.
Judith Kerr's children's book THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA comes to life at Sydney Opera House this summer, to the delight of young audiences. Director, songwriter and lyricist David Wood has brought new life to this modern classic story about little Sophie, her Mummy and THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA.
Set in a 1970's kitchen Sophie (Abbey Norman) and her Mummy (Jenanne Redman) and Daddy (Matthew Dudley) tell the story with a good mix of story-telling, singing, magic and physical comedy. There are many points where the audience is encouraged to get involved with counting, singing and dancing, thereby keeping the young audience engaged through the 55 minute show. The stage show expands on Kerr's original adding more detail and more characters to the otherwise short children's story and utilises good techniques to get the children involved including repetition of themes so they can start seeing patterns along with a few moments where learning is slipped in such as counting and reading time.
Whilst Sophie, Mummy and Daddy's costuming is kept simple the standout costume is the Tiger who has bold orange fluffy fur and with his movement really looks like a large cat walking on his hindquarters. Sophie matches the storybook tunic, patterned tights and big blue ribbon. The lighting design allows for the audience to easily understand changes in location along with simple changes to the set
Whilst some of the references are very English, in keeping with the book and the touring company's UK origins, they are easy enough to explain to children if not readily apparent by the action on stage. The performers have a good clear presentation for dialogue and vocals which along with the repetition, ensures that children can follow along. The dancing has some of the musical theatre flair but is kept relatively simple with the right balance of entertainment without overwhelming the young audience, particularly for the ones that want to dance along at their seats or in the aisles. The songs are easy and catchy with the audience led through lyrics before trying out the sing-along sessions.
For the adults accompanying children, this Olivier 2012 Award Nominated performance is still entertaining and engaging. I and my guest attended without children in tow and we both enjoyed the story and the music and looking around the audience I did spot some grandmothers and mothers getting in and dancing and singing enthusiastically.
This is a great day out at the theatre for parents, grandparents and anyone else looking for something to entertain little children over the holiday. For those that know the book, this stage play expands on the story. For those that don't know the book, this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce your children to this magical story.
Following its run in Sydney, THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA continues its international tour to Melbourne, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The Arts Centre, Melbourne
Friday 2nd - Sunday 18th January
1300 182 183
KidsFest, Hong Kong
Wednesday 4th - Sunday 15th February
Thursday 19th February - Sunday 1st March