We’re delighted to be joined by a guest poster today: Joanna Witt, freelance journalist and editor of Panorama Road – a site for parents who are trying to work flexibly. Joanna went with her family to see Santa Claus and the Night Before Christmas at the Watford Colosseum.
We arrived at The Watford Colosseum stressed out and a bit shouty (full car parks, one-way systems and general children-related tardiness) but as soon as we entered the venue, a blanket of calm fell upon us.
Staff pointed to the toilets, to the auditorium, laughing as our disorganised family of five (three boys aged 7, 5 and 3) careered this way and that, finally taking our seats to watch Santa Claus and the Night Before Christmas. We were last in, but the whole set up was very informal. Kids sitting on knees, no set setting, people standing at the back if babies started to cry. For a family with three very fidgety boys, we immediately felt relaxed.
We knew straight away we were in for an interactive ride, as the elves were already milling around the audience when we arrived, getting the children in the mood. Then as the show started we were faced with the narrator – a giant teddy bear who explained the story. One little girl Emily, wasn’t sure whether Santa Claus really exists. Her friends said he was make believe, as no-one had ever seen him delivering presents.
But of course, WE know he exists, and so what follows is a light-hearted, sparkly show that will persuade Emily otherwise. We join Santa Claus and his two elves as they go to visit the little girl and persuade her that of course Santa is real (and fat enough to get stuck in her chimney).
The story is pretty simple and great for young kids, who seemed enthralled by the giant bear, the singing elves and a REAL LIFE Santa Claus. But the reason it works is because it gets the audience involved, and being a small audience (probably around 100 people max?) the children really get a chance to take part – you’ve never seen so many people waving imaginary wands!
Even my slightly reluctant 7 year old was forced to enjoy himself when he was given a fake snowball to throw at Santa to dislodge him from the chimney! The great thing was that the ushers were really into it, running around the hall, providing more and more ammunition to the kids who were screaming with delight. It’s unusual to find a performance where EVERY child gets to really take part and they all got lots of snowballs.
On top of this there are bubbles launched from the ceiling, allowing the children to run around and pop them and at the end snowflakes float down from on high, covering everyone from head to toe (depending on where you’re sitting) in slightly foamy frothy stuff.
At the end all the children get to meet Santa one by one and have a picture taken. They’re also given a little present to take home. No-one is left out in this performance.
The only thing I did find a little bit strange was a song about wanting a Starbucks coffee, which felt a little out of place for an audience of small impressionable children, but I’m not sure how many of them picked it up.
Out of my three, the five year old enjoyed it the most, but the three year old was up on his feet dancing at the end. The seven year old fidgeted, but he does that everywhere, so it’s tricky to gauge his true reaction. He danced, he threw and he liked the present.
And although my five year old was savvy enough to notice that the bubbles coming down from the ceiling were coming out of bubble machines, at the end of the show he still believed in Santa (with the caveat that the Santa he met was a fake Santa, not the real one) and that, in today’s age, is still pretty special.
We were given press tickets for the purpose of this post.
THURSDAY 1 – SATURDAY 24 DECEMBER 2016
Tickets: Mon-Fri – Children £13.00, Adults £14.00, Family of 4 £50.00
Sat/Sun – Children £15.00, Adults £16.00, Family of 4 £52.00
Box Office: www.watfordcolosseum.co.uk