This charming show based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson is a great introduction to theatre for your little ones.
If you want to take your children to a festive show but are perhaps reluctant to sit through a pantomime then get yourself to the Charing Cross theatre, where they are currently showing The Tinderbox – a show that will leave you feeling happy whether you are a child or an adult.
Written by Mandy Holliday (who also stars in the production) and directed by Abi Pickard Price, it is a production that is filled with plenty of entertainment to keep the children attentive for the duration. Whether it is a bit of singing or getting them to join in with the spells, the show understands what children want from a show: a bit of magic, a bit of adventure and a happy ending.
Brian the Brave (Samuel J.Weir) is a penniless soldier returning home from war who suddenly acquires a magical tinderbox and heads off on a quest to find true love.
While the show is perfectly entertaining, it also is a way of introducing children to classical music, with extracts from the likes Dukas ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the finale from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky – which really fit into the story well.
There are some lovely performances to enjoy throughout as well. Ceris Hine as The Gold Dog is charming and funny – but never gets carried away by her performance, while Mandy Holliday as the Old Witch and The Wicked Queen is suitably comical in both roles but with a hint of villain as the Queen that the children in the audience respond to perfectly.
So what of our hero Brian the Brave? Well Samuel J.Weir is certainly a likeable character and you do want to cheer him on constantly – but there is a slight awkwardness to his performance that just knocks a bit of believability off his character – but I’m sure that the children in the audience were too busy having fun to notice.
Looking around those also sitting in the audience (in particular the younger ones) it is clear to see how enraptured they were with everything they saw and that is a clear indication of how successful the show was.
Although some of the songs were perhaps not the strongest in the world, there were some lovely vocals provided by Bridget Costello in The Princess song that certainly mesmerised the little girl sitting close to me.
But The Tinderbox feels as though it needs just a tiny extra sparkle in terms of the set and production value (which is difficult admittedly due to Piaf also being on during the evening) to make it really stand out.
It is a lovely production that really does need just a little more finesse to really make it gleam production wise but should be enjoyed for the quality of the story and the characters.
The Tinderbox is on at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 3rd January 2016. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.the-tinderbox.com/ .