I hadn’t been to the Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent for a very long time before yesterday when we went to see Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels. My previous visits, watching bands, have been rather sweaty affairs (my ribs are still recovering after being front row for Suede in 1995), but in these more savoury conditions I was able to appreciate what a lovely venue it is.
The Musical Marvels show isn’t like anything I’ve seen before. On-screen action mixes with live action on the stage, with ‘Maestro Matthew‘ (Sharp) and the Picture House Orchestra. In the first half, the on-screen action is a mixture of new scenes and some classic bits, like a lovely montage of Wallace’s hapless love history, all of which is accompanied by a full orchestra.
The music is fabulous. It’s always wonderful to experience good live music and the Picture House Orchestra are very accomplished. The pieces, complementing the rest of the action, range from Debussy and Mozart to Queen and Stevie Wonder. Some of the music has been composed specially for this tour – including Wallace’s ‘My Concerto in Ee, Lad’, but every note fitted perfectly – it’s all been very cleverly done and the conducting (conduction?) by Stephen Magee is flawless.
The synchronization between the visual and audio is so good that it’s easy to forget the orchestra are there when you’re focused on the screen; which is a shame when they are so splendidly attired in their W&G character costumes. Make sure you give Lady Campanula Tottington the attention she deserves, at the very least.
This was my little badgers’ first experience of a classical orchestra – cultural savages that they are – and they were enthralled. At one point, Maestro Matthew took a hand held camera and focused on each of the sections in turn (all very Bono, my husband said) explaining as he went, which helped them better appreciate the individuals within the whole ensemble.
The second half of the performance was a showing of ‘The Wrong Trousers’, once again accompanied faultlessly by the orchestra, which went down a storm with the whole audience – it’s one of those rare gems that pleases the whole family.
It was a friendly, non-intimidating, fun introduction to classical music and orchestras for my children – and many others, I’m sure – and I’m really glad we were able to go and let them experience something new and enriching. I think the show offers something that almost everyone would enjoy and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it.
The tour reaches Liverpool and Manchester this weekend (25/26 May) and then they’ll be razzing round the rest of the country – to find out more, and to see if they’ll be near you, check out the website. Let me know if you see it, I hope you enjoy it if you do.
(c) and TM Aardman/W&G Ltd. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER – I was given tickets, free of charge by Carrot Productions, in exchange for my review of the show, but all opinions expressed are genuine and my own!