Tag Archives: Northampton

Watch Northampton Greyfriars Bus Station demolition

Here’s a video showing the former bus station Greyfriars demolition in  Northampton disappear in less than 60 seconds : http://youtu.be/D9O8RgI3S7E

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Annoying things 1

Gah!

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Another set of headphones fails to sneak unharmed through a 40degree wash.

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Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson coming to Northampton in July

Jack and the Flumflum Tree

Jack and the Flumflum Tree

A NEW theatre show for children comes to Northampton’s Royal & Derngate in July, based on the book by Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson.

Hot on the heels of the excellent Moominsummer Madness, Jack and the Flumflum Tree will be performed in the Underground theatre and is suitable for children aged 4-10.
Here’s the press blurb:
Another much-loved story by Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, Jack And The Flumflum Tree comes to the Underground stage at Royal & Derngate from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 July.

Jack’s Granny is sick with a bad case of the moozles. And the only cure is the fruit of the fantastic Flumflum Tree which grows on the faraway isle of Blowyernose. It’s a perilous journey, but Jack bravely sets sail, with a motley crew of only three – and a large patchwork sack that Granny has filled with an odd assortment of items from chewing-gum to tent pegs. But what use will they be against hungry sharks, a leaky boat and a thieving monkey?

The show has been devised by Bamboozle, the company behind last year’s stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Crazy Hair, and Royal & Derngate’s Christmas show for younger children, Along The Riverbank. Puppetry is by Sue Pyecroft – whose enthralling work will be familiar to anyone who saw Alice In Wonderland, Crazy Hair or Along The Riverbank – taking her cues from the book’s charming illustrations by David Roberts.

With beautiful songs, engaging puppetry and Bamboozle’s trademark multi-sensory style, Jack And The Flumflum Tree promises to enchant family audiences, including those with a learning disabled child. It is recommended for children aged 4 to 10, or for ages 7 to 14 with learning disabilities.

Jack And The Flumflum Tree comes to Royal & Derngate from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 July, with performances at 11am and 2pm daily. Tickets, priced at £7.50*, can be booked by calling Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk.
* A transaction fee of £2.50 applies to telephone and website bookings only. Does not apply in person, or to Groups and Friends, and is per-transaction, not per-ticket.

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Moominfab! World premiere of Tove Jansson’s Moominsummer Madness at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

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This is quite exciting. If you grew up with the Moomins – those quishy hippo-ish characters Moomintroll, Moominmama, Moominpapa and Little My – you can see them brought to life this weekend on the Royal and Derngate stage.

Using brilliant puppetry, live music and humour, Moominsummer Madness is another coup for the Northampton theatres, and is an innovative show ideal for ages four and upwards. A co-production between Royal & Derngate’s Underground Studio and London’s Polka Theatre, this world premiere is staged in the Underground Studio in Northampton from Thursday 22 May until Sunday 1 June.

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The Moomins live in a fairytale land of Moomin Valley and have lots of adventures. Author Tove Jansson was a Scandinavian illustrator whose books and comic strips were eventually published all over the world, and like all good children’s literature, were a little bit surreal but based on ‘human’ scenarios. Moominsummer Madness forms part of Tove 100 – a celebration of 100 years since the birth  of one of the key artists and writers in the post-war age. Her Moomin books (written between 1945-1993) have been translated into 44 languages along with animated films and a popular television series 

Moominsummer Madness finds the Moomins aboard a floating theatre after a huge flood sweeps through the valley. Mysterious things start to happen… Why is there a door in the floor? Why does the scenery start changing? And where do Moomintroll, Little My and Snork Maiden disappear to? The only way of bringing all the family back together, it seems, is to put on a play!

Local audiences have enjoyed many hugely successful shows for children and families over the years, created by Royal & Derngate’s Associate Director Dani Parr, including Flathampton and Along the Riverbank, and now she brings that trademark flare and interactivity to popular children’s storybook characters the Moomins.

The production is co-directed by Dani and Polka Theatre’s Peter Glanville (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt), bringing together the talents of Little Angel Theatre’s celebrated puppet-maker Lyndie Wright, Bruntwood Prize-winning writer Phil Porter (Starseeker) and composer Ben Glasstone, to create another example of brilliant and inventive children’s theatre.

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Moominsummer Madness can be seen in Royal & Derngate’s Underground Studio from Thursday 22 May to Sunday 1 June, before transferring to Polka Theatre in London. The first two days are exclusively for schools (tickets priced £9 each, with one ticket free with every 10 purchased). Tickets for family performances from Saturday 24 May to Sunday 1 June are £10* each. Times vary. Call Box Office on 01604 624811 or visit http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk to check times and book tickets.

On Friday 30 May there will be the opportunity for children aged from 8 to 15 to work with a professional puppeteer to bring a puppet character to life in one of two puppet-making workshops, running from 11am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3pm. The cost is £5 per participant and places can be booked by calling Box Office.

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The Science Museum’s Energy Show Live: An electrifying visit to the theatre, review by Matt Walsh

The Energy Show“Who wants to blow things up?”

That’s the question that powers the fun at the brilliant Energy Show which will be at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate from April 28-30.

Produced by the Science Museum Live, the show follows the adventures of futuristic students Annabella and Phil as they race against time to complete their presentation on the nine types of energy.

And that means blowing things up.

The safety goggles go on and the students conduct dangerously exciting experiments, such as setting fire to methane-filled soap bubbles or exploding hydrogen-filled balloons.

Mixing live action, computer graphics, science and Star Wars jokes, this is an enormously fun show which teaches some of the key principles of physics and chemistry and will be particularly useful for those studying at key stages two and three.

Be warned though, there are some big bangs in this show. The producers suggest it’s suitable for those aged seven and above.

I watched it with a science-mad four-year-old who was a little worried at some points as the audience shouted for ever bigger explosions.

But he left singing a familiar tune played by “lightning” created by a specially tuned Tesla Coil.

This is an inspirational, high-energy science show which delivers education and entertainment for both children and adults.

energy_show_tour_image_627x392pxThe Energy Show will be at Royal and Derngate from the 28th to the 30th of April, with shows as follows: Monday 7pm, Tuesday 11am, Wednesday 1.30pm.Tickets are £16, and available on 01604 624811 or by visiting http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

Matt Walsh

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Dinosaur Zoo Live, today and tomorrow(April 10-11) at Royal & Derngate

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I’m sitting in 27 degree sunshine in Spain when I suddenly remember: crikey, it’s Dinosaur Zoo time.
Not in Spain,  although up to the mountains it is a little reminiscent of the land that time forgot, but back home in Northampton
We saw this brilliant and innovative puppet/human show last year, and I’d highly recommend it. You may remember the video clip doing the rounds when one of the dinosaurs accidently fell into the (more expensive) front row. No puppets or humans were injured thankfully.
Our six and ten year olds loved it, and there’s plenty of banter from the humans on stage for the grown ups too.
Tickets are pretty limited but if you can catch it now, it’s a perfect Easter treat.
Dinosaur Zoo is at Royal and Derngate, Northampton. Go to http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/Productions/201314/58873/DinosaurZoo for information and tickets.

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An excuse to eat chocolate and keep kids quiet

When driven to eat an entire box of Quality Street (ignoring the toffees which remove one’s fillings), why not preserve the wrappers?
The cellophane and foil can be separated and used to decorate a Christmas picture as demonstrated here by five-year-old Bonnie.
Creativity and face stuffing on a Sunday afternoon.

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Review – His Dark Materials, Royal Theatre, Northampton, July 2013

DSC_0138IT might have been the hottest day of the year outside, but the audience at Northampton’s Royal Theatre were enjoying something very cool on stage in the form of His Dark Materials – based on the brilliant trilogy of books by Phillip Pullman.

This was not a conventional night for theatre-goers. The evening performance on Saturday was Part 2, and surely everyone there had been to Part 1 either earlier in the day. (Or earlier in the week). So if you’d booked the Saturday it was a marathon session of viewing starting at 2.30, breaking at 5-ish and back for Part 2 at 7.30. If you hadn’t read the books or at least seen the DVD of the Golden Compass, the shows could have been baffling to follow too, as the books have detailed plots.

The show, with amazing puppets and puppeteers, an incredible set and 50 performers, was also entirely cast with under 21-year-olds – the companies of Royal & Derngate’s contemporary and classic theatre schools.

You’d hardly have known. The performances, especially of lead Demi Rixon as Lyra, tirelessly tearing around the stage as her character does in the books. Other notables were Ryan Leder’s armoured bear Iorek Byrinson and the witch Serafina Pekkala (Emma Cranston). Credible performances too from Will (Chris Normington), Mrs Coulter (Erica Tomlin), Lord Asriel (Luke Nunn) and the scene stealing Angels.

There were fights, huge scenes with Les Miserables-sized casts on stage at once, and it flowed beautifully. The daemons, played throughout by cast members visibly moving and voicing these exquisite puppets, were a touch of genius.DSC_0139 You have to hand it to the teens who were working the puppets, often on hands and knees or stooping for long periods – certainly youngsters were going to do this far better than adults with rickety joints.

There were the expected issues with such a huge cast of nervous new teen performers, rather too much mumbling throughout from some characters meant dialogue was hard to hear in places (voice training and projection possibly tricky with so many performers). But the strength of direction (Natalie Diddams and Chris Gorry certainly deserved the standing ovation as much as the actors) and the tech and staging professionals helped this be so much more than an amateur production.

A gamble by Royal & Derngate to stage such a huge production? It was truly brave and ambitious, and they totally pulled it off.

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Legoland – still a poor excuse for a day out ten years on

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Ten years ago we took our sons, now aged 14 and 15, to Legoland. We left feeling cold, tired and ripped off. We tried again this week with our five and nine year olds, and I’m sorry to say nothing much has changed.
It cost the best part of £100 for two adults and the car parking. It’s only the fact that third son Billy had cut out two free kids’ tickets that stopped entry being almost £160. For day tickets.
It will be OK, we decided, our youngest two love all things Lego (Star Wars and the girly Lego friends) and they hadn’t been before. It was Easter, but it was cold, and still busy.
We started at the very short train ride down the hill, and walked to the knight’s kingdom where we knew there were two ‘ entry level’ rollercoasters, suitable for ride- phobic Bloke as well as the kids. An hour later Billy and I had been on The Dragon, a not terribly scary sit-down coaster suitable for those over a metre tall. Bloke and Bonnie were still queuing for the Dragon’s Apprentice, a much smaller ride.
Billy and I joined the queue instead for lunch in the restaurant, a very poory staffed and grubby place with oversized wooden tables run, it seems, by teenagers with no sense of urgency despite a half hour queue of families waiting for tables. I felt cross and embarrassed as there were families from overseas who must have marvelled at the British inability to run, well, the proverbial knees-up in a brewery. An expensive brewery.
We moved on to Laser Raiders where we were told the wait would be 75 minutes. Not unusual in a theme park, we’ve done Alton Towers and Drayton Manor and understand they’ve only got so many seats per ride. They do have a priority queue jump system but it was FIFTEEN QUID PER PERSON! The wait was so long I actually wrote most of this review while waiting and hoped it was worth it, as we’ve been on these shooting lasers at targets rides before. The American theme parks do these well, with the Buzz Light year and Men in Black ones really standing out for value-for-your wait. Legoland’s version was shabby and short.
With some rides still under construction (the new Duplo’ land would be too young for ours anyway) and the water rides just too damn cold in this weather, we probably didn’t have the same expereice we might had we gone later in the summer.
We bought a couple of overpriced coffees and a bucket of candyfloss and headed to queue for Atlantis, a ‘submarine’ ride which let you look at real fish in the underwater aquarium beneath, but while it was the best we went on, it was still too short for a ride with an hour-long queue.
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We bypassed the car driving and fire engine ‘experiences’ and headed back up the hill to the Star Wars exhibition, via ‘mini land’ which features a lot of very out of date models of country landmarks from around the world which included ‘old’ Wembley and Silverstone with buttons which were supposed to make cars and windmills and the like move, but they were mostly broken.
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The Star Wars area could have been so good, but instead you walked around a museum of star wars scenes in Lego, placed behind glass or certainly out of reach. After the brilliance of the Lego computer games, surely they could have been more imaginative? Even Clone Wars uber-fan Billy was underwealmed.
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We gave up another too-many quid in the shop but didn’t have to fight or bribe the kids that much to head home. Even though we had tried to be positive and give them a fun day without the older two vying for attention, they were talking more about a previous trip to Alton Towers on the way home than the place they’d just been!
Legoland is at Windsor, just off the M4. Leaving took some time as there are only two lanes to exit and some poor woman had rear-ended another car on the steep hill. Then the M1 was closed and it took three and a half hours to get home.
I don’t enjoy writing such a negative review but come-ON Legoland, you should be embarrassed how much you are charging for such a tired and old park. You have a good reputation in all your other businesses so why let this one become so dated and unwelcoming? It had very little for older kids and we were relieved not to have taken the teens. Other UK parks, just as old if not older, seem to have kept pace.
If you are thinking of a visit this Easter, for goodness sake take your own food and look for online deals or use club card vouchers, as some fellow visitors we were talking to in one if the queues did (who, by coincidence, came from Northampton). It was the first time they had visited and, as they whispered out of earshot of their three kids, it would also be their last. As all our kids have now ‘done’ Legoland, thankfully we too have no inclination to return.

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A Christmas Carol at Royal & Derngate, Northampton – Review

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Four-year-old daughter settled into her theatre seat and made a pronouncement: “Ooh, this looks a bit too scary for me.”
This was before the curtain had even gone up.
Admittedly, it was a scary black curtain, which rose to show a classic Victorian street scene – only with the added brilliance of the Royal set-makers; boxes piled on boxes, upon bookcases and grandfather clocks. All moveable mini sets which characters could climb and peer through.

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A Christmas Carol has been going down a storm at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate this year, and rightly so. I haven’t heard a bad word about 2012’s in-house offering – a welcome antidote to the giant celebrity-studded Bobby Davro/Denise Loose-women omnipanto next door in Derngate.
Pantomime it ain’t. The show sticks to the original Dickens classic story pretty religiously and that’s to its credit; there’s no soft-soaping of the Victorian urban setting here. Poverty, cold and Scrooge (played to miserly perfection by the considerably younger Sam Graham), grumbles and snarls his way around Christmas Eve like there’s no tomorrow, and of course, for him there might not be.
Cue the three ghosts – the Santa-like Andy Williams gives a show-stealing turn as the ghost of Christmas present as well as Jacob Marley – and Scrooge has to clean up his act for the sake of poor old’ Tiny Tim and the Cratchetts.
The cast are marvellous, and combined with a slick script and that mesmerising set, it’s a set of ingredients which leaves the audience feeling full and contented. Even the four-year-olds.

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If you manage to get a ticket, do try to see it before the run ends on January 6. Box office is on 01604 624811.
I can’t guarantee any celebrity spotting on the way out though. Our Bloke saw Philip Schofield as we were leaving, although none of us – bah humbug – believed him. Turns out he was watching his brother-in-law play Scrooge.

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