On Friday we went to the Northern Stage to see the production of James and the Giant Peach, and it was AMAZING. Really amazing. The staging was spectacular and it was properly funny. We'd been offered two press tickets, but as the show was advertised as being suitable for kids aged 5 and upwards, the toddler and baby were staying at home. I thought it would make a nice night out for my nephews and niece, especially as I don't do anywhere near as much with them now that I'm pre-occupied with my kids, so I bought an extra 3 children's tickets.
The evening performances start at 6pm, and last two hours, including an interval. The kids with us were 13, 11, and 10 and the timings suited us really well. Any earlier and we would have struggled to get there on time with school pick ups. The 8pm finish meant we had enough time to grab something quick to eat afterwards without feeling like we were going to run into the Geordie Shore crowd.
I haven't been to the Northern Stage for years, and I'm not sure I'd ever seen a performance there, but its fab. The stage was at floor level, and there were seats on three sides of it, giving it a really intimate feel. We were in row M, which gave us a great view, we could see everything perfectly. If you are thinking of booking up though, I would aim to get seats row H or closer. I don't want to spoil any of the surprises but there are a few audience participation bits (don't worry you won't be dragged up on stage, more like some beachballs being thrown into the crowd to pass back) and our seats were just slightly too far back to be able to take part in that. I wouldn't worry in the slightest if you've already booked, but if booking now it's something to consider.
I loved Roald Dahl books when I was a kid, but couldn't remember much about James and the Giant Peach. It's about a young boy, horribly mistreated by his two mean aunts, who has a magical adventure with some new friends. As the story unfolded, it all came flooding back about Roald Dahl's darker side, there were a couple of sad moments, but it was done in such a way that it wasn't long before something ridiculous or funny cheered you up.
The characters were brilliant. We laughed the whole way through, and the staging was really incredible. The way that the show depicted a rhinoceros, sharks (on scooters), birds and octopuses was amazing. We were all transfixed. The music was brilliant too. The songs were all high energy and catchy. During the interval I started googling amateur dramatics societies to join, being caught up in how I wanted to be on stage with them and temporarily forgetting that I have no time, energy or most importantly any skills to pursue a career in musicals.
All five of us agreed it was a brilliant show, and as it finished to a standing ovation it seemed that was the general consensus. A couple of years ago we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London, and I think that the staging, story and music in James and the Giant Peach was on a par with that, if not better. The layout of the stage, where we were so close to the performers, made it all that bit more special. The tickets are, I think, really good value, starting at £12 for adults and £10 for children. I know if you have a big family it would be a big expense, but in comparison to a cinema trip it isn't loads more money, but you are getting a much better experience and memorable night out.
It's running until New Years Eve, with decent availability over the school holidays (although it looks like Christmas Eve is pretty much full). There are even tickets left for the 2:30pm performance New on Years Eve, which I think would make a lovely family event, and you went then you'd be just in time to join the Newcastle's Family Parade which starts at 5pm.
If you are going then don't forget to visit this page on the Northern Stage's website to download a shark fin template which you can wear at a certain point in the performance.
Have you been to James and the Giant Peach? What are your plans for the Christmas holidays?
Disclosure Policy - We received a two complimentary tickets in return for an honest review. Unsurprising all of the random blabber and chuntering on in this post is my own. See the about us section of this website for the full corporate speak disclosure policy.