Monday, 8 August 2011

Ben In The Night Garden

Last Thursday we went to see In The Night Garden Live in Richmond and I have to say it was a very special experience. It was the first time we had taken Ben, who is twenty two months, to anything like this, he hasn't even been to the cinema before so it really was a big first for him! There are two shows to choose from, The Pinky Ponk where Makka Pakka washes faces and the Ninky Nonk where Igglepiggle loses his red blanket. We chose the Pinky Ponk.

Ben woke just as we got to the show dome, his face lit up when he saw where he was, surrounded by familiar pictures from ITNG and what looked like the Pinky Ponk made out of a number of coloured round paper lantern lights suspended from the ceiling. Trying to keep Ben entertained while we waited to be left into the theatre was definitely a bit of a challenge, as it was for a lot of the other parents with toddlers. Ben was on a mission to escape over the barriers so we were glad when we finally got to enter the Night Garden!

Walking into the theatre itself was really exciting, on stage there was a giant open book with the words 'Makka Pakka washes faces' written on it and pictures of Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka. The Pontipines house was in the corner of the stage and Ben immediately recognised it saying 'Mi-mi-mi-mi!'. This is what he says when he sees them on the television as he finds the sound they make funny. I loved how the image of the Pinky Ponk was projected onto the ceiling and it went around and around the room, it really added to the magic of being in the Night Garden. The seating which was made up of rows of benches was ideal for young children and adults alike. While we were waiting for the show to start there was a chance to buy refreshments, programmes and some merchandise including Igglepiggle or Upsy Daisy light up spinners which I think most children got and in my opinion are worth the £6 they cost - it is now days later and Ben is still enjoying playing with his one.

The Show itself started pretty quickly and it was a joy to hear the squeals of delight from the children and to see their faces when the characters came on stage. Ben got really into it, when he saw the large and ever so cute Makka Pakka on stage for the first time his face absolutely lit up, he really did look amazed. He cried when Makka Pakka waddled off the stage wriggling his bum (I loved the costume) and started saying 'Back again, back again!'. Makka Pakka was quickly forgotten however when Igglepiggle, Ben's favourite character, appeared. He loved when Igglepiggle sang and danced to his well known song and was very pleased when he danced to it a second time, this was great fun for both the children and parents with everyone singing along. The show followed the same format as the tv programme and lasted just under an hour, highlights included the characters songs, the bubbles which floated down from the ceiling and filled the theatre to the utter delight of the children when Makka Pakka was washing faces and most definitely the fantastic lighting which really made you feel like you were in the night garden! While the smaller puppet versions of the characters were well done I loved the big characters costumes and Ben seemed to get more excited when they were on stage. At the end of the show as Igglepiggle floated away in his boat at sea there were lots of sad children Ben included, waving 'bye-bye' to their heroes but for Ben the best was yet to come! We were meeting Igglepiggle!

There was about a twenty minute wait to see Igglepiggle but it was definitely worth it. In the waiting area there was lots of ITNG merchandise for sale including t-shirts, books, bags, cushions etc and people selling helium balloons. Now I have a bit of an issue with these balloons, there were two types on sale, a normal round one with a picture of the characters on it which cost an acceptable £4 and a Pinky Ponk shaped one which they were selling for £8 (nope, that's not a typo). To me, that's a bit expensive for a balloon and indeed most people seemed to agree judging by their reactions asking for the price to be repeated. Thankfully Ben went straight for the round one and it did keep him somewhat entertained while we waited to see the blue one.

Finally our name was called, we were let through the curtains and what happened next was a moment I'll never forget. Ben's face was priceless, he was quite clearly amazed. This character he so lovingly watches on television was there in front of him. Like a well known family member he ran to Igglepiggle and hugged him. It was so sweet. He couldn't get enough of him, pointing out his nose and eyes like he does with his Igglepiggle teddy. He had to fetch his balloon which was by the door and give it to Igglepiggle as he hugged him again. We then had a lovely picture taken with Ben on Igglepiggle's knee. Of course he didn't want to leave and there were tears but it really was one of those special experiences that I doubt my husband or I will ever forget, I just wonder what was running through Ben's mind.

Meeting Igglepiggle!
For details on the show venues and tickets check out the website. If you are going I would definitely recommend meeting a character, it cost £15 which includes a photo, with extra photos available to buy, we got two extra copies for £7 which I know Ben's grandparents will love.

ITNG Live really is a wonderful experience for all the family and I recommend going along if your little one is an ITNG fan. They will love it and you will love watching them as they enjoy it.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have chosen to write about ITNG Live because we really enjoyed our experience and I wanted to share it with others who may be interested in it.


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