22 February 2011
We had already bought our children a copy of the Fireman Sam Live on Stage DVD and the kids really enjoyed it. So when we saw that Fireman Sam was coming to the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham we jumped at the chance to buy tickets. It's perhaps a good job we did as the tickets seamed to sell out very quickly.
When we arrived at the Theatre it was chaos. The previous show was still emptying out as everyone was arriving for the next show. There was an announcement that this was due to the earlier show overrunning, but they could have spaced the shows out by an extra 15 minutes or so which would have made it better.
We had ordered our tickets to be delivered to our home which worked well and avoided the long queue to collect tickets from the ticket office, but there was still very long queues for programmes / Fireman hats (only available in the foyer) and sweets (smaller range also available elsewhere in the theatre, but this was not obvious on arrival).
Unfortunately the queues in the main bar area made it impossible to get to the toilets, which with a child that was potty training was not a good combination. In addition the toilets are very small and I was not able to find any baby changing facilities; there may have been baby changing facilities back in the foyer, but the congestion meant we did not even consider trying to fight our way back through. The toilets were not sufficient for the number of people wanting to use them. This can mean a lot of queuing for adult theatre goers, but was not a particularly good combination for a theatre full of pre-school / young school age children.
Fortunately after the problems on arrival the rest of the event went much more smoothly. My only other complaint would be the volume of the speakers. We were in the stalls a little over half-way back from the stage and the sound was barely audible at times.
Fortunately the show was very good and the children loved it. The show was staged in Pontypandy (of course) and featured the main characters: Fireman Sam, Station Office Steele, Elvis, Norman Price and Mandy Flood. The one character missing from the usual line-up is Penny - who is the key female fire-fighter in the TV series. The kids seamed happy with the characters that were included though.
The storyline is based around a rock music concert being staged in Pontypandy, with a special secret guest star. Norman Price gets up to his usual mischief and almost spoils the event, although thankfully our Hero Next Door comes to the rescue and all ends well.
This is a different story to the "Live on Stage" DVD that we'd got and I believe its a slightly smaller production designed for smaller theatres, all though still a great show.
The stage design was good for the small stage and included Jupiter Fire Engine that drove on and reversed off a few times during the show. There was of course a simulated fire with lots of smoke and a couple of opportunities for Fireman Sam and Co to do some of their "most heroic rescues yet".
The show involved the children in a lot of cheering and pointing which of course they loved!
It was a bit frustrating getting through the people upon arrival and it's a shame that the theatre hadn't allowed a bit more time for the guests from the previous show to depart, but it was a great show and the kids loved it.