Madagascar the Musical: Review

Ad/Press Invite

We were kindly invited along to see Madagascar the musical at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre.

King Julien

The show is really colourful, fun and upbeat. It’s particularly great for little ones as it doesn’t feel long. The stand out things for me about this production were the eye-catching costumes, Matt Terry’s (Alex) astounding vocals, the puppets, and the humour. I laughed out loud along with most of the audience more than once throughout the show.

Madagascar the musical

The music is very peppy and toe-tapping and the song lyrics are easy to understand, nothing abstract or mysterious, they support the narrative really well.

I especially enjoyed the raspberry clouds song which represents Alex the lion’s decent into unconsciousness when he gets darted at the subway station by animal control. I laughed so much at the policeman in this scene (played by Kieran Mortell).

William Beckerleg deserves a special mention as he has the lead penguin’s voice (Skipper) down to a tee.

madagascar the musical

Thank you to Wales Millennium Centre for a brilliant mum and daughter night out, we had such a lovely evening out together. Here’s what my daughter thought of the show:

‘I found it was an amazing production and while they were performing you could really see the effort and time they had put in to make it that good. I especially like when king Julien said that it was embarrassing that he had just done that whole session of “hahohaho” just because Alex’s stomach grumbled. That really made me laugh. I think that the dancing was absolutely brilliant as well as the singing just all the moves and timing and their singing was beautiful. The mini party at the end really got the people in the vibe even more. This is a really good musical and if I was to rate it I would say a 100/10. People should really go and watch the musical – very entertaining.’

So there you go, 100/10 is pretty good isn’t it? A great family night out well worth booking tickets for with your littlies but be quick it’s running until 11th August at Wales Millennium Centre and tickets are from £16.

You might also like to read my other theatre review of Kinky Boots which I also saw at Wales Millennium Centre.

Review: Kinky Boots at The Millennium Centre Cardiff

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Glamour, glitz and heels that hit the ceiling, Kinky Boots delivers exactly what the audience is hoping for. Set in Price and Son shoe factory in Northampton, the humdrum meets the extraordinary when Mr Price’s son, Charlie, goes into business with the fabulous Lola – an out and proud drag queen. Together they bring the factory back from the brink of extinction through Kinky Boots. The factory, and the worker’s jobs are saved when Price and Son’s begin to manufacture ‘two and a half feet of irresistible tubular sex’ high heeled kinky boots for the niche male market.

Kinky Boots is primarily a story about ‘local-boy-done-good’ with complex themes of acceptance and love woven throughout. We follow Charlie’s transformation as he finds out who he really is and what he really wants in life. Charlie’s journey is beautifully played out by Joel Harper-Jackson who most notably carries the big number ‘Soul Of A Man’ incredibly, just him and a bare backdrop. His performance at once personal and powerful.

At the start of Kinky Boots our main lad Charlie is engaged to the beautiful and ambitious – if not also slightly uptight and cold – Nicola played by Helen Ternent but as the story unfolds another love interest comes into play in the form of Lauren who works at Price and Son factory. Paula Lane gives us a wonderfully dorky and down to earth ‘girl-from-my-home-town’. Her solo ‘The History of Wrong Guys’ is as funny as you want it to be and has a definite ‘Suddenly Seymour’ vibe to it. Lane had the audience in uproarious laughter but also managed to weave in the more serious Lauren in a slower scene where she is the prop that ties up Charlie’s lose end with his father just before the big finale.

The star of the show is obviously Lola, played by Kayi Ushe who satisfyingly bursts onto the stage with a flash of bright lights, done up from head to toe in a red sequin dress and dances in impossibly high heels. Lola’s club where she works as a drag artist alongside an ensemble of her angels is wonderfully juxtaposed to the drab factory feel of Price and Son.

Lola and her girls

This juxtaposition is carried throughout the show as Charlie and Lola step into each other’s worlds and discover they have a lot more that unites them than doesn’t. We see this in the beautiful lyrics of ‘Not My Father’s Son’ which really showed off Ushe’s vocal flexibility and through both performers, invited us into the more intimate back story of Lola’s character. And I won’t spoil the ending but we see this joining of worlds played out amazingly in the last song and finale also.

Our first introduction to Lola’s girls is a feast of a vision. The dancing is Britney Spears video quality amazing and every one of the ensemble stands out as much as the next. The audience is spoiled for choice on where to focus attention during every one of their numbers. Some acrobatic skills are even included and the choreography bounds from one spectacular to another. Their dancing gives the whole show a feeling of high energy and constant forward motion.

The costumes are so varied and detailed. I loved the not too in your face 90’s theming of the factory workers outfits which by comparison between the scenes made the drag artist’s costumes stand out all the more. As we get further into the story the racks of boots in the factory become bright and beautiful and we get a good look at some of the detailing and design that has gone into them. The prop of the first bright red thigh high Kinky Boots to come through on the factory line shine and sparkle as the cast move them around the stage.

Kinky Boots press night – Wales Millennium Centre, 23rd July 2019 Photo by Polly Thomas

The stage set up is visually appealing right from the opening scene. Mostly based at the factory, the whole space is used well and we easily imagine the meetings happening privately in the upstairs office and can see the workers sewing stations in the main floor. There’s lots to look at with regard to set design and props in every scene which some may view as superfluous to the great performances of the actors but is a piece of live theatre that I personally so enjoy and appreciate.

And the music! Well I’ve had ‘The Sex is in the Heel’ stuck in my head for two days now, so yes, I would say there are some definite ear worms in there. Kinky Boots is a double Tony award winning show and a Laurence Oliver award winner so the quality of the music comes as no surprise. Songs are themed throughout the whole Kinky Boots show, one is a tango, one Rock and Roll, and Lola’s intro song is firmly 70’s disco. I think I might buy the soundtrack to listen to in the car ready for my next Kinky Boots factory visit!

Overall a brilliantly feel good theatre experience that will have you laughing and rooting for the characters throughout. It has stand-out visual appeal, narrative, and dance performances. Kinky Boots really spoils the audience by bringing together what feels like the top talents of the industry to put on a show full of exceptional choreography, costumes, and music, brought to life by a dynamic cast.

Kinky Boots runs from 22nd July – 3rd August 2019 at the Millennium Centre Cardiff as part of a U.K. wide tour.

Brownie Lottie Doll Giveaway

Lottie Dolls have brought out some new dolls and accessories . Lottie and Finn have some new roles to play including always artsy, junior reporter, and an astronaut accessory set. We have been sent the new Brownie Lottie Doll to show you here on the blog and one to giveaway too! Click the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page to see how to enter.

Brownie Lottie Doll

Here at the Hippy Christian Mum we are brand ambassadors for Lottie Dolls (see my new bright badge) and that’s because I’m a big fan. Lottie Dolls are all about letting kids be kids while encouraging them to be imaginative and adventurous. Lottie doesn’t wear make-up and is based on the proportions of a 9 year old child. When my daughter plays with her Lottie Dolls, she talks about where they are going and what they are going to do. She explores ideas around friendship, supporting each other at gym events and most recently with Brownie Lottie, leading a Brownie group and making a campfire.

Lottie Dolls

Brownie Lottie Brownie Lottie

As her mum I love seeing her creative side come out when she plays with her Lottie Dolls but my most favourite thing about Lottie is that she has inspired some really important conversations between Beg and I. We’ve talked about what a palaeontologist does (I had to have a Google, my knowledge only extended to what Ross from friends did and I’m not sure how true to life that was!) and she was happy to know that women can be scientists too (that one stung a bit but glad we got it out of the way).

Beg is hoping to join our local Brownie group so I was pleased when she chose Brownie Lottie to be sent to us for this review. Brownie Lottie comes dressed in her uniform including a neckerchief and jeans and trainers. I’m sure she will spark some conversations about Brownies and what Beg can expect when she joins.

Brownie Lottie Brownie Lottie

She also chose the new saddle up accessory set, which was just as well because the first thing on the agenda at Brownie camp was a horse-riding lesson (on a leopard, of course). I think Beg might choose Sirius the Welsh Mountain Pony next!

Brownie Lottie Doll

You can find Lottie online on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Lottie HQ are very friendly and chatty on Twitter if you like a Twitter chat 😉 You can sign up to club Lottie on the website to receive a 10% off voucher code for your first purchase.

*This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase through these links I will receive a commission. I received a Lottie Doll and accessory pack for the purposes of this review.*

Giveaway

You have a chance to win your own gorgeous Brownie Lottie Doll (RRP £18.99) in my blog giveaway. Just click the Rafflecopter link below to join in.

Your email address will be forwarded to Lottie Dolls HQ to join club Lottie which gives you a 10% off code for your first purchase. It will not be sent to any 3rd parties. The giveaway is open to entrants over 18yrs and you can enter from any country! 🙂 Lottie HQ assumes responsibility of sending the winner the prize. This giveaways starts on Thursday 13th July 2017 and ends on Friday 21st July 2017 at 12:00am GMT. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. If the winner does not respond within 48hrs of the giveaway end date another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you have any Lottie Dolls? Let me know in the comments. Here is a previous review of Forest Friend Lottie

Lottie Dolls

Win Brownie Lottie

Hollywood Bowl Cwmbran Opening Night

I love me a bit of Americana, who doesn’t? So I was excited to be invited along to the promo evening of the new Hollywood Bowl. Cwmbran bowling has had a major facelift with a £250,000. refurbishment and upgrade complete with new diner and entertainments area.

 

Greeted by Marilyn Monroe we then had a quick tour of the new premises. They’ve really upped the game over the whole place, the pool table area is now a really nice area, the bar serves real ales if that’s your thing and the diner is really kitsch with American style booths. We had some tasters of the food and it was really good. Thick burgers with bacon, cheese and salad, nachos, vege burgers, fresh milkshakes – strawberry and oreo flavours – served in cute little retro milk bottles –and they also had gluten free options on the menu as well.

half eaten (gluten free!) nachos

 

We weren’t really great at bowling! We had our fair share of gutter balls. I got a strike so I got a sticker which made my inner child people-pleaser immensely proud but totally fluffed it for the prosecco competition. When a pink pin came down at the front of the pins you won a bottle if you got a strike. I’m usually a very lucky person with things like that but alas I buckled under the pressure!

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Each lane had a server, ours was really great offering help with setting up the game and was on hand for drinks orders from the bar. All the uniforms were like 50’s diner style pink shirts adding to the Americana theme. Our server was especially friendly and sorted us out with gluten and dairy free nachos. Kids parties can have a dedicated server too (sounds good to me!).

Game of bowling complete we went over to the arcade bit and had a turn on some of the video games. It was fun we went on Jurassic park and a shooting one, a driving one, (can you tell I’m not a gamer) and this green one that moved the seat around. I’ve never seen one like it before in an arcade! There was Mario Kart too but it had a bit of a hovering queue.

video game

bowling

I had a great time thanks Hollywood Bowl for the freebie evening out. Definitely well worth a visit if you like a bit of Americana too and you like bowling and big fat burgers (which I do – all of the above) and you can pre-book your lanes too. Even though I’m suffering ‘bowler’s bum’ today I had a great time. It’s a stance thing, check out my live vid on my facebook page if you need to know more about that.

Thanks Hollywood Bowl and Laura of vans comms for the invite.

If you would like to read about another blog event I went to here it is at Smiggle.

 

Back to School with Smiggle

If you’re a bit of a stationery fiend like me who can spend happy hours online poring over pretty flamingo print notebooks and such like then you probably enjoy the stationery part of back to school shopping too.

Needless to say I was very excited to be invited to Smiggle (where a smile meets a giggle) to try their products and see their back to school range for 2016 called ‘sidekicks’.  I’m happy to report that school stationery has moved on from maths ruler sets and mustard coloured rule lined books. 20160825_083700

Filled with bright neon colour, the store is instantly recognisable. The shelves are filled with loads of  fun things that kids will love like lunch packs and fold-down drinks bottles, key rings, glitter pens, lip balm, and fluffy pencil cases and backpacks. Scented pencils and rubbers add to the cool factor with scents like candy floss. Cola was my personal favourite.

At the back of the shop there is a trying station set up where you can try out some of the pens and pencils to see which ones you like (perfect for finding that perfect ‘write’ of a pen) and the staff demonstrated one of the creepy crawly starfish toys that ‘climbed’ down the wall and lit up too. I felt welcome to pick up all the stuff and didn’t feel like I had to keep telling Beg not to touch everything because the store is set up for kids to be able to have a good look.  At the front of the shop there is a post box to post your entry into the design your own backpack competition. If your entry is chosen as the winner Smiggle will make your back pack for you-how exciting is that?

I really loved all the products, everything had a good quality feel to it and there were lots of things within pocket money budget (lots under £3).

I had an exclusive preview of the Spikeys 2 range. These are collectable ‘Smiggurines’ there are 12 to collect. They are £7. each and all come in the same packaging so you don’t know which one you are getting. I love that element of excitement and I think kids will too. If you ever have doubles you can take your Spikey to any Smiggle shop and trade with any of the 3 on the trade table. There is also a mega mystery one even the staff don’t know what character it is. So lucky you if you find that one! I had a goodie bag given to me with freebies in and I had the ‘Kong’ Spikey.

Smiggle do a different back to school range each year, and you just know it’ll be the one all the kids will be talking about. For 2016 it’s the ‘sidekicks’ range. Five cute characters -a penguin, puppy, cat, dog and dinosaur, and each has lunch packs, drinks bottles, pencil cases and more.

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I was fortunate enough to win a £200. gift card.20160825_100107 I was so excited and me and Beg had a massive shopping spree which was so, so fun. I’ve never done anything like that before so I was really made up. So we got a fair few bits and pieces (there is some left on the gift card honestly!) and since getting them all home I’m really impressed with the quality of them.

 

My favourite thing we got was this trolley case. The hot air balloon design is so pretty and it will fit all Beg’s things in for future holidays. It can be worn as a back pack-which is great for getting around airports- but also has an extendable handle and wheels that light up when they move. It’s so cool! It’s priced at £42.

Beg’s favourite thing was the spy pen (£4.00). Normal biro one end, but the other end is a white marker that doesn’t show up until you shine the UV light onto the page. She has been writing secret messages all weekend!

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Smiggle has really impressed me and it’s really geared up to what kids will love. Loads of products to choose from and really funky and bright designs.

Check out my first you tube video of me ‘unboxing’ the freebie goodie bag here.

*Disclaimer: I received free products for this review, though all views are honest, and my own. *

Check out Smiggle for yourself!