Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Numberjacks Live On Stage

Yesterday we went to see the Numberjacks Live On Stage in Reading and it was fantastic from start to finish. Before we went I was curious as to how such a show which relies on computer graphics would translate to a theatre stage performance and I must say the creators of the show really did an outstanding job to make it work. There was a clever combination of Numberjacks One and Four in costume, the integration of a large television screen which was used to call The Numberjacks and see the meanies, Spooky Spoon both in puppet and on-screen form and of course the other actors playing Jamie (a stage hand), Astra (a waitress from the canteen), the scary Numbertaker and Number Three - all of these brought the live show together in a familiar and effective way on stage which really worked. There was a pantomime like feel at times with the encouragement of audience paticipation which was fun and I believe, really made the show a success on stage.

The Numberjacks Live On Stage set
 Ben loves The Numberjacks, not a day goes by without him asking to watch them whether it is on one of his three beloved DVDs or on YouTube (as it has been off air over the summer on cBeebies) so he was in his element when we walked into the theatre and he saw the set with its pictures of The Problem Blob, Shape Japer, Spooky Spoon (his favourite meanie) along with all of The Numberjacks. The Show quickly started with the arrival of Jamie, the stage hand and Astra, a waitress.  In true Numberjack style it soon emerged that there was something strange going on which was signaled by Jamie getting very mixed up and doing things such as cleaning his teeth with the mop and the floor with his toothbrush. These two actors were fantastic, being both fun and enthusiastic throughout and really great at engaging the audience. There were hillarious moments of audience participation from the beginning with the Knuckles of Mordor and Tinkerbell of La La Land piece - I won't go into detail so as to spoil it for those intending to go but let's just say it is guaranteed to make you laugh yourself silly. Ben, like all the other kids (and adults) there had a lot of fun joining in with the audience participation pieces such as counting and the fun finger and arm dancing.

Look it's Spooky Spoon!
The first half of the show saw Spooky Spoon up to her tricks but luckily Number Four was able to save the day! The second half saw the turn of the rather scary and daunting character of the Numbertaker and the arrival of Number Three in a form never seen before. Throughout the show counting and numbers were reinforced in a subtle yet fun way and it is impressive to see young children exhibit such a fantastic grasp of numeracy through their participation. Ben, who will be two next week has no problem counting to ten and recognising numbers and their correct sequence and it is fantastic that shows such as The Numberjacks offer such opportunities to learn and reinforce this.

It's The Numbertaker!
Ben truly absorbed in the show
Ben was truly gripped throughout the show, he really got absorbed in it and it is safe to say our house is now even more gripped by Numberjack hysteria than ever before! We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to do a meet and greet with the cast after the show which was superb. They were all so lovely and fantastic with Ben taking him up on stage and posing for photos with him. I do believe the Numberjacks Live On Stage has had a bigger effect on Ben than we ever realised or anticipated it would. He had not stopped talking about Number Four, Spooky Spoon and singing "Numberjacks are on their way" since, indeed the first thing he said to me this morning was "meet Number Four", I have a feeling he had a night filled of Numberjacks dreams!

Ben loving meeting Astra, Jamie & Number 4!
The Numberjacks Live On Stage started it's tour on Saturday in Reading and will be travelling to various venues across the UK from now until December - the full list of venues and dates and ticket prices can be found here. I can highly recommend bringing your little one along if they are a Numberjacks fan as they are sure to love it as will you!

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I received two free tickets for The Numberjacks Live On Stage Show however this has in no way biased my views - we thoroughly enjoyed the show and I would not hesitate to recommend it!


Anonymous said...

Saw same performance at Reading on Saturday, sadly quite disappointed. During the first half it took along time before the numberjacks came on and there were some children who were asking where they were. Some parts were good in the second half especially when the numbertaker came on. Numberjack 3 was strange and confusing and very screechy. My 3 year old seemed to enjoy it but I think the mathematical side of things were lost and I found myself cringing at times at the script. Loved fireman Sam, going on a bear hunt, tweenies recently but this I couldn't recommend this.

Mummy's Space said...

It's a shame you didn't enjoy it as much as us. My son, who will be two next Saturday was gripped throughout and has not stopped talking about it since but I guess every child is different.

I think the creators of the show did a fantastic job to bring what is a programme which relies heavily on computer-generated animation to stage. This is certainly not an easy or straightforward job and cannot be compared to other shows such as the Tweenies which translate a lot easier to theatre as they are basically just people in costumes.

I agree Numberjack 3 was a bit surreal but I guess as with many childrens shows you have to abandon adult logic and let your imagination take over. In the Numberjacks things get mixed up all the time and this, in my opinion was just another spin on it.

stuart said...

just saw this show in aldershot i thought it was great and my 2 year old girl loved every second thumbs up from me!

Mummy's Space said...

It was fantastic - Ben is still talking about Numberjack 4 and Spooky Spoon, in fact he never stops :).

Make sure you check out the fab Facebook offer on the Numberjacks page where you can claim a free set of books if you have been to the show:!/TheNumberjacks

Kat said...

do you have to pay for a 16 month old child or will i just have to pay for me and my partner?

Mummy's Space said...

Yes I think you will have to but take a looks at the booking details for the theatre you wish to go to here I hope that helps :).

guest said...

I can't believe we saw the same show! I thought it was terrible. The whole point of going to see the Numberjacks was to actually see NUMBERJACKS for my children - was very disappointed that only 2 were on on stage (numbers 4 and 1) and also disappointed in the state of the costumes - tatty, dirty and ripped. I honestly thought it was no better than an amateur school performance.

Kat said...

thank you, i will have a look now :-)

Jane said...

I've just taken my 3yr old to see it with some friends and we thought it was utter rubbish.  In less than a minute of the show starting the person in front of me had to leave as her little girl was traumatised by the numbertaker and was really distressed.  The stage set is shoddy.  The only numberjacks on stage are 4 & 1, numberjack 3 is wheeled on stage on a trolley and kind of gives birth to a pink person with the numberjack then being wheeled off on its trolley.  I didn't have high expectations but the show didn't even live up to these.

Mummy's Space said...

I'm sorry to hear your experience of the Numberjacks differs so
drastically from ours. We thoroughly enjoyed it and for me, the proof of
it's success is my son's reaction to it - he was gripped throughout the
whole performance and over a month on is still talking about seeing
Numberjack 4 on stage.

As for your comment with regards the costumes, I
think if you stop and look at it through a child's eyes, you can't beat
seeing a giant Numberjack 4 or 1 in real life! It is a difficult task
bringing a computer generated animation to stage and I think the
producers did a fantastic job in achieving it. While there may have only been two Numberjacks on stage the use of the giant screen was very clever in my opinion as it meant other characters could be involved in the show and kept it familiar for children who are already fans of the television programme.

My son loved it and I found it very entertaining and in fact we enjoyed it so much I wouldn't
hesitate to take my son along to see it again.

Mummy's Space said...

That is a pity you didn't enjoy the show, I have to admit I am surprised as we thoroughly enjoyed it but as with everything in life everyone sees things differently.

As for the little girl who was so traumatised by the Numbertaker that she had to leave I think it does beg the question has she ever seen the television show as he is exactly the same on stage as on screen and perhaps if she is scared of him on television her parents should have thought twice about bringing her in the first place.

With regards to the set and the numberjacks on stage I think the producers did a great job translating the computer generated animated characters to the stage, in my opinion they worked and my proof of this is the fact that my son enjoyed the show so much. Crazy mixed up things that require you to suspend your beliefs and use your imagination happen in the Numberjacks television episodes all the time so I think the Numberjacks 3 appearance just followed on from this - have you ever seen the episode where a person is turned into a Number 4? For me this was just another spin on it.

guest said...

We have just returned from watching the numberjacks at Kings Lynn. We were very disappointed with this show. As regular theatre goers with the children, this was the worst show we have booked to see. The children were sad not to see more of the number jacks, and who were these 2 people on stage? Where are they in the real numberjacks show?!!!  And for the number 3 to suddenly have a person come out of- after being pushed on by a trolley is a joke! This is not what the numberjacks is about. If I were you, I would save your money for a better show.

Mummy's Space said...

I totally disagree - I think the show was a fantastic translation of an animated computer generated television programme to stage. There is always a mix of people and Numberjacks on the television episodes and you only ever see a few of the Numberjacks in any one episode so I was not surprised that we did not see all ten numbers on stage.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but my proof of how successful the show was is my son's reaction to it. He loved it. There is always strange things happening in the Numberjacks television shows so while Numberjack 3 may have been a bit surreal I think if you can abandon your adult logic for a moment and use your imagination you will see it is just another spin on how the meanies such as spooky spoon and the Numbertaker cause havoc.

I highly recommend this show to any Numberjacks fans!

Donemylot said...

I have to agree with the OP. Whilst this show, which we saw at Southend, was hardly BAFTA material, our 3-year old son loved every minute. Yes, some of it is bizarre, some of it quite unexplainable, the numbers are shoddy and the lack of 'real' Numberjacks a shame. However, it kept our son fully enthralled and I would wager that many parents do not object to the likes Baby Jake and many other programmes that are based on a level that many of us adults really don't get! At the end of the day, the only onbjection was the persistance of the Southend managament to disallow photographs (which they did at Fireman Sam). I really don't think my boy will be usisng them to market his own material.

The shows not stunning, but enthusiastic and worth a 7/10 

Mummy's Space said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad your son enjoyed it as much as mine. You make a great point around programmes such as Baby Jake which too are on a level parents often don't get but young children do.

For me, the show was a huge success based on our experience and my son's reaction - he loved it and still months on lights up when he talks about the show.

Nyree said...

I saw this new show in Glenrothes with my husband, 3 year old son and 7 year old daughter. We all thoroughly enjoyed it despite the show being disrupted just after the interval by a fire evacuation (actors very professionally took this in their stride so much so that the audience initially thought the announcement to evacuate was part of the act!). My boy was enthralled throughout and quietly joined in during audience participation, he loved the Numberjacks, 1 and 4, as well as the number 3 "re-birthing" into human form (listen carefully mums and dads, this is simply explained and perfectly acceptable to young Numberjacks fans!) in fact he said number 3 was his favourite, when on Cbeebies it is always number 4 he likes. Since the show he often makes a number 4 shape with his arms - very educational!

Although I wouldn't recommend this show for 2 year olds, as the ones in the audience seems scared by the Numbertaker and several were crying whenever he came on (unless of course your 2 year old loves watching Numberjacks on TV.), it is ideal for children age 3 and up.

Before booking I wondered whether my daughter would find the show too babyish but she loved it, could understand the whole story and enjoyed joining in the panto-style aspects. It was nice to include the waitress and janitor from the TV series, and my daughter really liked them as well as the actress playing number 3, she thought the actresses were beautiful, indeed all the actors were very attractive with very clear speech making them easy to understand. I thought all the costumes were appropriate and looked good. The set was busy enough for young children, young viewers are focussing on the characters for the most part so I personally wouldn't have wanted a more fussy or elaborate looking stage. The mix of actors, actors in costumes, and the screen so that we could tell those back in the couch that "things are going wrong!" was just right. The only criticism I have is that at times the dialogue went on a little too long and I felt it didn't run as smoothly as other theatre productions aimed at a young audience, however that is just teething problems in a new show and did not detract from the enjoyment!

I did not receive free tickets and my opinion is my own and is unbiased, though I am a Numberjacks fan! I think Numberjacks is the best educational programme for young children that teaches maths concepts and maths language. It is possible that my children enjoyed this show even more because they know the programme's format but I think children who have not seen the programme would still enjoy the stage show.

Carlajones_1979 said...

We saw this yesterday at Dunstable, and I have to say, even though we were incredibly (unbelievably) excited, I came away feeling a bit deflated. Luckily our 22m old seemed to really enjoy it and was full of participation which was lovely and did make it worthwhile. However I do agree with some of the comments insofar as it seemed farcical to have a show called Numberjacks Live, and to only have 2 of them on stage, especially as they didn't even talk! Although Astra and Jamie did an alright job of keeping the kids entertained, the lack of real storyline and plot was as disappointing as the distinct lack of numberjacks.
I understand that it's always going to be difficult to bring a computer generated kids programme to 'life' on the stage, but I do honestly think with a script with a clear concise storyline, similar to an episode, and some puppetry/animatronics and a clever but not elaborate set this could have been much better. I also believe that had my daughter been older she may not have enjoyed this as much.
And although normally me (and my children) love surreal stuff, the weirdness of number 3's 'birth' was bizarre and not a good interpretation of a jack/human mix up. And i've taken my kids to see the Mighty Boosh and all sorts of weird stuff before!
Overall, it was a bit pants, but at least the baby loved it. And for all the show lacked in plot and story it made up for in enthusiasm! Oh, the theatre had also ran out of merchandise which sucked!

Lucyloo24 said...

Possibly the worst kids show i've ever witnessed!!!

In comparison to pantos, Gruffalo, Night Garden etc this was a shoddy, pathetic attempt at putting one of the best kids TV shows on stage. Our children love the show but found this to be boring and were really upset the show did not feature all the Numberjacks. This should clearly be stated on the show information at time of booking.

A complete waste of money. I will definitely not be recommending and would rather buy the DVD and watch the TV show at home!

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