Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Review - Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure

"You're hanging out with us now, pal.  Dignity has nothing to do with it."
- Sid, Ice Age ( 20th Century Fox, 2002)

The Ice Age cometh.  To be more precise, it's already here.  England and Wales has seen areas freeze over and it's slowly reaching other parts of the world.

No, I'm not talking about snow and no, I'm not getting all environmental you.  I am, of course, talking about a brand new show created for arena audiences and featuring all your favourite prehistoric animals: It's Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure.

As I've written before, I think the Ice Age films have a certain charm to them and when my husband and I discovered that a show was being developed we thought it would be something that both Sophia and Dexter would enjoy.

The premise of the show follows the main Ice Age characters - Manny, Diego and Sid - as they search for Manny's baby daughter Peaches who has been kidnapped by an evil bird, and their adventures as they then try to get back home.  The show promised ice skating, acrobatics, spectacular songs and more.  Would it live up to the hype?

We were lucky enough to be sent some complimentary tickets to the world premiere of the show, which was held at the end of last week and we were looking forward to taking both children.  I even drew up a 'plan of action' as to how I was going to keep Sophia and Dexter occupied and seated for the duration of the show.  However, the closer the event got, the colder my husband's feet became.  Ever the worrier, he was convinced that Dexter, at 19-months-old, was still far too young for such a show.  With the show lasting for nearly two hours (with an interval), I could understand his point.  So, when the date of the world premiere arrived, Dexter enjoyed a sleepover with his grandparents and Sophia travelled with us to Wembley Arena.

We were excited to arrive; Wembley Arena is a great venue with music blaring, outdoor lights glowing and ambience always set to maximum.

As with any premiere, celebrities were invited to walk down what was a blue carpet on this occasion.  Unfortunately, I didn't recognise anyone.  I later learnt thanks to the magic of twitter and the Daily Mail, that League One football WAG, Nicola McClean was there, as were a couple of people from TOWIE.  'Ream. 

What was funnier though, was the few people I spotted who had obviously been invited to the show's after-party and had come along to watch the production in full evening attire.  I'm talking bow ties; tuxedos; evening dresses.  One woman's dress made her resemble an over-the-top, sequined Christmas bauble.  I kid you not.

But I digress.

What was the show like?

If I'm honest, it didn't get off to the best of starts.  The tickets clearly stated that the show would begin at 7pm but it actually didn't start until around 7.20pm.  The reason for that appeared to be the "VIPs" who casually strolled in late and seemed to prefer chatting to one another instead of finding their seats and getting ready to watch the show.  Even Sophia noticed it.

"Hurry up and sit down!"  She shouted, much to the amusement of others sat near us.

Finally everyone was seated and the lights dimmed.  I was pleased to see the character of Scrat make the first appearance, chasing his acorn in a little skit all of his own, just like in the films.  It was a fun sketch, echoing Scrat's misfortunes in the Ice Age feature films and I was optimistic the rest of the show would continue in the same vein.

And in some ways it did.  The costumes were good (the mammoths in particular were impressive); the character of Sid was excellent; the ice skating and general choreography was fun and meticulously executed while looking effortless.  But, at the same time, a few things did let it down.  For instance, not all of the character's voices were accurate.  I'm afraid to say that Diego didn't sound at all like Denis Leary and Manny's voice definitely did not belong to Ray Romano, although you could tell a real effort had been made.

Despite the show's advance showings in Cardiff and Nottingham during October (although I believe some Nottingham shows were cancelled due to a technical fault), we also observed one or two 'glitches' in the show.  The animated background (which was on the whole fantastic) blacked out for a few seconds, for instance.  However, these were minor and didn't really detract from the spectacle on stage.

There were also some instances where the characters would 'undress' from their costumes in order to carry out the more acrobatic moves.  It was totally understandable as to why the actors did this, because their costumes were too large and/or inflexible, but it seemed a little confusing for younger members of the audience.

However, perhaps the most telling thing is that I can't bring you a full review of the show.  As it reached its half-way point and the lights came up for an interval, Sophia loudly and persistently declared her wish to go home.  It was after 8pm at this point and we understood that she might be tired so we wrapped her up in her coat and drove her home.

When I asked Sophia why she wanted to go home so soon she simply said, "I liked it but it was too loud and I am too little."  I can see her point. 

My husband and I thought the the show's producers had gotten the sound levels just about right; the music was loud, blasting around the arena as it needed to, yet it wasn't too overwhelmingly deafening.  But, Sophia found it too loud for her sensitive ears to tolerate.

As for being little, I think she may be right.  The story was slow and failed to hold her attention.  It didn't help that she wasn't overly familiar with the characters and she didn't understand parts of the show.  It made me glad that we didn't take Dexter in the end.

Reading this review, you might think it all sounds quite negative, but I do want to stress that there were parts I enjoyed.  In particular, a show-stopping musical number performed just before the mid-way interval drew huge cheers from the audience.  Some characters even came off the ice to high-five children sitting in the front row - a nice touch.

Although Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure turned out not to be Sophia's 'thing', it did manage to spark an interest in the films.  The very next day, she asked to watch the first film in the franchise instead of her usual favourites.  With the fourth instalment of the film series, Ice Age: Continental Drift being released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 10 December, I have a feeling it may have to go onto a certain little girl's Christmas list...

Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure has now finished its run in the UK for the time being and moves onto Germany as its five-year international tour kicks in.  But, watch this space, it might be back at some point.

Please note: As mentioned in my post, I was sent free tickets for the purposes of this review.  However, all opinions are my own and are 100% honest.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reviewing this. Seen so much about it I was tempted to take the OH and my nephew but I think he'll be too diddy x


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