Last Sunday, Andy, Jack (just five), Phoebe (two) and I took a train into Manchester to watch the Peppa Pig’s Surprise! live show on our second family outing to the theatre. The first, a trip to see Mr Popper’s Penguins (excellent btw) was a huge success, but as a massive Peppa Pig fan, I knew that Phoebe would be absolutely spellbound when she saw her favourite piggies come to life in front of her eyes.
When we arrived at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, the atmosphere was electric. Excited toddlers brandishing (terribly overpriced) multicoloured whirligigs were on every row squealing with delight and as we were on the last minute, we promptly found our seats and waited expectantly for the curtain to go up.
This stage version, the follow-up to Peppa Pig’s Big Splash, closely follows the animated TV series and takes the audience on a journey into Peppa Pig’s world guided by pig-tailed, dungaree-wearing human friend Daisy. Daisy, played by Emma Grace Arends has the boundless energy and enthusiasm of a Children’s TV presenter and she does a brilliant job moving the story along and encouraging the children to join in.
Peppa and her friends are operated by puppeteers dressed in black so you hardly notice them. They stand on wheeled bases so the puppeteers can easily manoeuvre them around the stage and as they sing and dance their heads bob up and down and their floppy arms wiggle around. They also have moveable mouths to make it look that little bit more realistic and I have to say the puppeteers who were providing the voices for Peppa, George and their friends did a sterling job as each one sounded very similar to their animated counterpart.
Mummy and Daddy Pig were played by actors dressed in costumes, instead of puppets as used on previous shows, which worked brilliantly.
The show started with a fun game of hide and seek with Daisy searching for Peppa, George and their friends. Phoebe and Jack, along with all the other children in the room, shouted and cheered with delight as the different characters appeared, disappeared and re-appeared behind the on-stage scenery.
The rest of the show followed suit and was full of fun, with plenty of opportunity for audience interaction, recognisable songs, including the infamous Bing Bong Song and charming performances from all the favourite characters including Mr Potato!
The storyline was simple with the majority of the show finding fun in Peppa and George’s daily routine.
At bath time Daisy used a giant wand to send bubbles floating into the audience, at bed time the Red Monkey comes to life and performs a jive routine with Daisy and understandably there is a lot of jumping in muddy puddles that leaves the audience soaked by the end of the song thanks to the water-pistol-wielding crew members at the sides of the stage.
George also does his fair share of crying throughout the show with water shooting out of his eyes into the audience which Phoebs found hilarious!
Spoiler alert – When they eventually make it after their car breaking down (and an audience wide game of eye-spy), the surprise of the title is a trip to the seaside where all of Peppa and George’s friends join them to build sandcastles and bury Daddy Pig in sand.
Perhaps my favourite part of the show was a lovely ‘under the water’ scene, which provided a much needed moment of calm as neon jellyfish, seahorses and a whole host of other sea creatures danced across a dark stage. It was mesmerising and my two loved it, as did I!
Peppa Pig Live really is a wonderful show and I can’t recommend it enough for your little Peppa Pig fans. I was slightly concerned that Jack, who abandoned watching Peppa Pig long ago in favour of all things pirate and superhero, would find it quite boring but he really did enjoy it and both he and Phoebe totally immersed themselves in the show and joined in the dancing, singing and fun games with gusto.
There are still tickets on sale for the last couple of venues of the 2016 tour but they’re selling out fast so to avoid disappointment book now!
Disclosure: We were kindly gifted four tickets to watch Peppa Pig live in exchange for this review.