The Lowry fizzes with excitement with the arrival of the Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of David Walliams’ much-loved Gangsta Granny.
Since 2008 David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm – writing nine children’s books and selling more than 12.5 million copies worldwide. Children (and grown-ups) love his books and it was clear to see that this stage show was also well received. Gangsta Granny has been a staple read in our house- the immersive sheer brilliance of Walliams’ wit has ignited our imaginations and prompted conversation. While the stage show doesn’t offer the same enveloping delight as diving into the original, the charm and excitement of the live stage match the vigour and flamboyance of Walliams’ writing.
Adapted by Neal Foster, Gangsta Granny tells the story of Ben (Ashley Cousins) and the relationship that he has with his little scrabble playing, cardigan wearing, cabbage chomping Granny (Gilly Tompkins). Ben loathes having to stay at his boring Granny’s house every Friday when his Mum (Louise Bailey) and Dad (Benedict Martin) go to watch their Strictly Stars Dancing show.
Vibrant and colourful, each character looks as though they have sprung from the pages of Tony Ross’ wonderful illustrations. Travelling around on her motorised scooter we soon learn that Granny is not as boring as we have been led to believe. Action packed and dream-like with a wicked brilliance, Gangsta Granny is poignant with some top-trumping wit and offers a thoughtful twist as Ben comes to realise that beyond the drab exterior, his gran is wild and adventurous.
‘It’s important to follow your dreams Ben, it’s all you’ve got to guide you.’
Jacqueline Trousdale’s set is colourful and snappy, the simple design makes scene changes swift and fluid. Jak Poore’s ballroom themed musical composition is lively and comical, adding further depth to the production.
Gangsta Granny is fun and fast paced and the perfect outing for children, parents and grannies. It continues to tour right through summer 2017 – running at 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is the ideal treat for those children who read, share and love Walliams’ writing.
Looking for things to do, plays to see and creative activities for the family over the summer?
Look no further – I’ve compiled a comprehensive and diverse list of the best plays, music and arty stuff happening for children through the wonderful month of August and as always many are FREE…
Recommended for those aged over 3, The King of Tiny Things is set on a magical midsummer’s night. Two sisters huddle together, fearful of what the darkness holds, when a mysterious winged creature appears and leads them on a moonlit adventure. Together they rescue juggling slugs, contortionist worms, and a trio of acrobatic baby bats. But while the girls are busy being brave they overlook their winged friend, the King of Tiny Things, who needs their help most of all. Can they save him in time…
Starring four of the world’s most exciting circus artists Metta Theatre bring Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward’s enchanting story spectacularly to life with circus, puppetry and song. Fun for all the family.
The King of Tiny Things somersaults into The Lowry in Salford on the 6th August 2015, with 2 showings at 2:00pm and 4:30pm.
Running alongside the main art exhibition at The Lowry, ExtraORDINARY -Everyday objects & actions in contemporary art, is ExtraORDINARY at The Lookout. The Lookout is a family activity space with different activities taking place throughout the summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 11:00am and 12:30pm. Activities include puppet making, junk modelling and paper patchwork and the best part about these activities are that they are completely FREE. Hurrah!
ExtraORDINARY at The Lookout in The Lowry runs through until 18th October 2015 and you can find activity listings here.
Waterside Arts Centre
Forensic Science in Action is back at Waterside Arts from 3rd August until 5th August 2015 so put on your white suit, gloves and mask, grab a scene kit and learn some of the essential skills needed – fingerprinting, DNA profiling and footwear marks – to be a forensic scientist. It’s a one day workshop and it costs £20.00 per child – the Monday and the Tuesday are for for 7-11 year olds and the Wednesday is for older children aged 12-16 years.
For those aged 10 and up there are ComedySportz Summer Workshops happening on the 26th and 27th August from 11:00am until 4:00pm. The fun costs £40.00 for the full 2 days and kids will learn the basics of comedy improvisation, creating characters and scenes in a fun and friendly environment before showcasing their talents at 5.30pm on the 27th.
Artful Playground’s Musical Theatre courseruns from Monday 24 – Friday 28 August from 10am – 4pm each day at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. It’s suitable for children aged 7–16 and costs £80 per child. Children will have sessions in acting, singing, dance/ movement and have lots of fun putting together a production which will be a performed for friends and family. To book your place, call Artful Playground on 0161 438 2021.
A couple of summer dance courses are taking place at The Edge in Chorlton from 10th August until 14th August.Jungle Jumpers runs from 9:00am-10:00am and is suitable for ages 6-9 years old. Dance Explosion runs from 10:30am until 12 noon and caters for children aged from 9-12 years old. Sessions are led by resident professional dancer Genevieve Estevez-Baker and cost £25.00 per child for the week. For more information and to book, click here.
Z-Arts in Hulme has a series of OneLoveDance Holiday Clubs available over the summer. The clubs run from 10:00am to 5:00pm (with an early drop off/ late pick up available at an extra cost) and themes these are Annie (10th – 14th August) and Frozen (17th – 21st August). The week is spent learning songs, dances and the script from the popular musicals. Throughout the week they are provided with professional singing, dance and drama tuition from highly experienced tutors. This includes activities that work on their confidence and team building skills. These holiday schools are really good value at £75 for the week – making them just £15 per day.
Bolton Octagon have a super Stage It Summer 2015 performance project running for 2 weeks from 17th August – 28th August (omitting weekends) from 10:00am to 4:00pm each day. The project is suitable for ages 11-18 year olds and gives young people the chance to work with professional theatre directors on a production to be performed in the Octagon main auditorium. The 2 week course costs £100 and culminates in 2 performances, taking place on Thursday 27th August and Friday 28th August at 7:30pm in the main house.
From 28th-31st August 2015 there areFairy Tales on Foot, an interactive storytelling playground, with fairy tale adventures popping up where you’d least expect them across Bolton town centre. Meet Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast and many more. You’ll experience all of the best moments of these beloved stories portrayed by actors and musicians. There’ll be live music, singing and even some dancing. This event is completely FREE and we love that.
Katy Ashworth, a favourite from CBeebies is also performing in her live show as part of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival. The children’s television favourite will be performing in 2 live shows at 10:30am and 2:30pm from the Friday 28th- Sunday 30th August 2015. The shows are taking place at the Children’s Marquee, Le Mans Crescent and cost just £1.00.
The Manchester Opera House
Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom LIVE skips into Manchester’s Opera House for the 1st and 2nd August 2015. Join Ben and Holly, and their friends on this exciting musical adventure packed full of games, songs and laughter on an enchanting journey through the Magical Kingdom. With actors, masks and colourful costumes.
Our favourite open-air theatre makers Heartbreak Productions are back with their version of the popular David Walliams book, Mr Stink.
On a perfectly average afternoon, two restless souls unite on a bench in an average English town – one of them the lonely 12 year old Chloe and the other an incredibly smelly homeless man. Oh, and let’s not forget his loyal dog, the Duchess. Watch the colourful characters from the celebrated novel by David Walliams come to life in Heartbreak Productions’ adaptation of Mr. Stink for the open air. This show takes place in Longford Park, Stretford at 5:00pm on 16th August and Dunham Massey, Altrincham at 6:30pm on the 21st August 2015. For full listings and other venues click here. Tickets are £10.00 with under 5’s free of charge.
Imperial War Museum North
What a Performance runs at the Imperial War Museum in Trafford throughout August on the 5th, 24th, 25th and 27th with four performances on each date (11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm).
Each session brings real experiences from wartime – you can hear stories from the Second World War, both at home and abroad, including the bravery of an undercover agent dropped into France and the hard work of a factory worker in Trafford Park. Suitable for all ages and is entirely FREE.
Black-Out! is another super free event recommended for ages 7 and over, taking place between 12pm and 3pm(just drop in!) on 20th August. Your children can take part in a treasure hunt exploring the new special exhibition Horrible Histories®: Blitzed Brits. A must for inquisitive young minds and I hear that there are a few prizes up for grabs too.
There is also FREE daily storytelling sessions happening throughout the whole of August at 1:30pm. Discover the blitz through the eyes of 10 year old Dotty in Dotty’s Daring Blitz Adventure. Follow Dotty as she goes on a daring rescue mission and get your hands on with ARP artefacts and unique pieces of shrapnel collected by children over 70 years ago.
Intu Trafford Centre
Intu Trafford Centre is home to In the Night Garden LIVEuntil 22nd August.The popular CBeebies favourite takes place in its own all-weather, purpose-built inflatable showdome with many family-friendly facilities. This site-specific structure is a huge hit with children and parents and its immersive theatrical experience makes audiences feel they are actually entering the magical world of the TV show In the Night Garden.
My children are past being interested in In the Night Garden now but it’s sure to be a certain hit with many of the younger children. This show sold out very quickly down at the O2 in London so if you don’t want to disappoint your little one – I’d probably get your tickets while you can.
CBBC is bringing the magic of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships to MediaCityUK in Salford on the 22nd and 23rd August from 10:00am to 5:00pm with the CBBC Summer Sportarama. This exciting event is FREE to attend and will give children the chance to take part in athletics events and other activities designed to give them a flavour of the championships taking place in Beijing. There are too many activities to list really – the opportunity to compete on a running track, football freestyling and a chance to have a go at being a presenter as well as hands on craft activities with CBBC Art Ninja Ricky Martin and a CBeebies sport area for the younger children too.
Have a creative, active and crafty summer everyone and tweet me with your events and adventures @upstagedMCR