We were lucky enough to be invited along to the Opera North production of Green Eggs and Ham, from the classic Dr Seuss book. The performance lasted around 45 minutes and was aimed at 4-7 year olds, my mini Mumbler has just turned four and loves the book so we were really looking forward to it.
The performance was held in the Great Hall of the Discovery Museum, Newcastle, which was an ideal venue. As well as being a lovely room with grand art-deco features, we had a great time exploring the museum’s interactive exhibits after the show. On entering the hall there was a choice of seating with chairs or floor cushions around a small carpeted area, giving children the chance to get up close and involved with the performance. As we waited for the show to begin there was plenty to see to keep mini Mumbler occupied, as the orchestra were ready and waiting with a range of interesting instruments.
The first part of the show was an interactive session where the orchestra members took turns to introduce their instruments. There was a friendly informal atmosphere as children were encouraged to answer questions and a few volunteers were brought up to demonstrate. Each instrument was discussed and briefly demonstrated, with some modern pieces plus a bit of nostalgia for the grown-ups!
The level was well suited for the age range, with younger and older children participating enthusiastically – and I certainly learned a few new things as well! After a whistle-stop tour of the trumpet, French horn, flute, bassoon, double bass, piano, clarinet and gong, my little one had just starting getting restless but was instantly hooked again when the two singers took the stage and launched into an operatic performance of the Green Eggs and Ham story.
The show was a visual treat with bright colourful costumes and a simple set of a giant furry chair, which hid a range of surprise props to illustrate the various suggestions from Sam-I-Am. There were plenty of giggles from the audience as cheeky Sam-I-Am and the grumpy grouch battled it out, with the two very talented singers giving the story plenty of expression and drama. They were complemented beautifully by the orchestra, with the music building in intensity until the grouch finally gave in.
After the show families were given the chance to take a closer look and try out the instruments, with the help of the knowledgeable and friendly orchestra. Mini Mumbler was particularly fascinated with the percussion instruments and the workings of the vibraphone, which was a new experience for me as well. And of course, a big favourite was bashing the gong! The team were very patient and allowed ample time for everyone to satisfy their curiosity. We left with big smiles, and with a souvenir grouch-style newspaper!
– All photos taken Leeds Central Library April 2020, credit Samantha Toolsie. – Disclaimer: Gateshead Mumbler received free tickets for the performance but all views are honest and our own.
Useful links & information
There was just one performance in Newcastle on 7 March 2020. The show has toured the country and is in it’s final stages with the last two destinations being Manchester on 12-13th March 2020, and York on 22nd March 2020.
Click here for more information and to book tickets, or click here to find out about upcoming events from Opera North in Newcastle and Gateshead.