The Shoemakers Christmas Wish – 9/12/2015

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Full Disclosure – The entry for me and Heidi was free and part of a preview performance

Full Disclosure 2 – I have no idea about performing arts, the stage, or anything vaguely creative! I am a bloke! Therefore, if you’re expecting a detailed account of the stage management and posture of the performers, you will be sadly disappointed…

I watched the show through the eyes of a child, in part, because I am one myself…

xmas shoemaker and elf. Copyright C Johnston Photography

So having been to the Rainbow Factory a couple of times (see here for a previous review) we were invited to a performance of the Shoemakers Christmas Wish.  While the review won’t give a detailed account of the story or how the story is acted out (because that would spoil things!) it will hopefully give you the warm fuzzy feeling that the Rainbow Factory is still producing magical memories and will hopefully do so for a long time to come.

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So, there was an audience of around 20 children, aged from 2 to 9-ish and the famous Rainbow Factory beanbags were at the front for the kids to sit on, with the adults having grown-up seats at the back. Some kind of magical spell must have been put over the children as they were all seated quietly and still for the start of the show…

…and they stayed that way…

The show was so entertaining and captivating that the children were transfixed on the performers and the story that they were communicating – through song, music, actions and Elf-speak! I was laid at the front as I knew Heidi was only 2 seconds away from joining in on stage, and the look of happiness, concentration and joy on the children’s faces was such a sight. It must have given the performers such a thrill to see the audience transfixed on their every movement and action.

Don’t forget, children are not good fibbers  – they will tell you if something was boring, or if they didn’t like something.

But none of them did.

At this point I must apologise of Heidi’s over-enthusiasm to those who were there… She was into the performance so much, she wanted to join in on stage, and didn’t want me anywhere near her to act as crowd control! Mild embarrassment followed, but it was fine – it was simply the fact that she was stimulated, perhaps overstimulated (!) by the magical performance.

By the looks of it Heidi was the youngest there (aged 2 ½) and so if you are to see the show (or any show) with a child of a similar age, perhaps a little toy in the nappy bag could come in useful to aid concentration! However, the magic of the Rainbow Factory meant that a new friend was there for Heidi to share a rubber duck and a shaker between the pair of them for the last 10 minutes of the show!

I realise that I have not mentioned the actual play, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but the 2 performers were amazing. To carry a 40 minute play involving songs, costume changes, musical instruments and comedy with just 2 people and no pre-recorded action/music was amazing. I have so much respect for stage performers anyway, as it is something that I could never do due to a) a lack of skill and b) a lack of confidence, but they had both in abundance.

The quality of the show was that it would not look out of place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, but then again, it would not have been as intimate and certainly would not have given the audience both young and not so young, a warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness.  The Playhouse certainly doesn’t have a tree in its seating area, which turned out to be a brilliant prop!!

As with most children’s shows, it does work at two levels and this certainly did and the uncontrollable laughing by the children (again, which cannot be faked!!) shows that the children appreciated the jokes aimed for them!

The huge round of applause at the end of the show was well deserved and the fact that so many of the Rainbow Factory team were there to watch was so wonderful to see as well. The stimulating effect of the show meant that afterwards, most of the children were running around and playing and generally being like children should be, even though it was past 7pm! Also, we took the opportunity to look at the decorative scenes again, which are truly amazing!

In true Rainbow Factory fashion, the show has 2 big thumbs up from us (fine motor skills allowing!) but now the main problem is how does the Rainbow Factory top this for next year……?!

xmas funny. Copyright C Johnston Photography

xmas stocking. Copyright C Johnston Photography

Xmas show. Copyright C Johnston Photography.

xmas secret. Copyright C Johnston Photography

The performers were Emily Goldie (the Elf) @EmilyGoldie1 and Jennifer Carss (the Shoemaker) @JenniferCarss   who also devised the original performance (amazing!)

The pictures were courtesy of C Johnson Photography @cjohnstonphoty  (apart from the amateur one of the stage because that was my effort!)

The good people at the Rainbow Factory can be found at:

www.rainbowfactorykids.com

www.twitter.com/RainbowStoryFun

www.facebook.com/RainbowFactoryKids

as well as in Farsley!

 

Rainbow Factory (7/10/2015)

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(http://www.rainbowfactorykids.com/)

The brilliant attitude and enthusiasm of the staff at the Rainbow Factory make this a brilliant venue and one that we will be sure to visit again in the near future.

We attended on a wet October Wednesday, when it was quite quiet (only 5 children were in) but we were made to feel so special by the staff and it made the day so much more enjoyable.

I booked tickets online, which turned out to be a mistake as you don’t need to on a weekday and as I hadn’t printed the receipt out, I was left relying on a dodgy 3G signal to get the email! (Inside, there is free WiFi). The venue is in a commercial park in Farsley and while the park is easy to find using Sat Nav, you can be wondering round a little to find the actual “Factory”, even though it is well signed when you get to the correct side of the park (the park isn’t too big anyway – and there is enough free parking.

Upon entry, you get a “tour guide” who gives and introductory chat and story and then takes you through the factory, which is about 8 small pieces of artwork/sculptures which has a story behind them, which the tour guide will explain to the little ones. It seems to be dependent on the volume of visitors as to how many is in your group, but we had 2 others at the same age to H, which was perfect.

The stories behind the artwork are based on a theme, which comes from a story which was read to the group before we entered the factory, but all relate to children’s stories (Pinocchio, 3 Billy Goats etc). The tour guide specifically talks to the children and this gets the children’s attention and enthusiasm and allows the parents to make sure that their child is listening and not destroying the sets!!! This lasts about 40 minutes, which is just about perfect and I guess that if the children are a bit older and can concentrate a bit longer, the theme can be developed further.

After the tour, the group is left to do some led artwork before being let free to the stage, dressing up clothes, books and beanbags! The children had a lovely time playing dress-up, using their imagination and making new friends. Overlooking this area is the cafe, which is reasonably priced (kids lunchbox, adult sandwich and bottle of pop was £8) and tasted nice!. Toilets are nearby, and these were clean and well suited for nappy changing etc.

However, once everyone who was in the factory had completed the tour, the staff put on a little 5 minute show of Little Red Riding Hood which was lovely, but even better was when they got a couple of the children to act it out! As it was pre-schoolers/toddlers, the staff had to help a fair bit, but they were brilliant in knowing what the kids could and couldn’t do!

After a while, there was another activity about colours, which was interactive and made sure the children learnt as well as being entertained. However, the lovely part was when a staff member offered to read a story to a couple of the children, seemingly out of the blue. It might sound like a small thing, but by doing that, it made the children feel important and special, and allowed them to learn a little bit more, not only about the book, but also about learning to sit and listen to a “teacher”, which is a difficult skill at this age!!! Also, they actually spoke about to me about H and how old she was, whether she went to nursery etc, (and it seemed like genuine interest!) which is quite rare in most places!. Also, as we said our goodbyes, we were made to feel special by the members of staff who personally said bye, and had a chat with us!

(I just wish that I had remembered the names of the staff to personally thank them!!)

All in all, we spent 3 and a bit hours there and it was well worth the £4 each admission fee (£8 for 3+ aged children). The themes change each month and so there is probably little point going back more than once a month, but it is a wonderful little place which we will be returning to on a regular basis!

Post write-up note: There is also a Secret Garden which is only accessible if you bring good weather with you, but as it was raining, it was closed off so there is something else to explore next time!

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots