Advertisement feature: Tickets gifted for review
I read a quote recently which I am going to have printed and framed to hang above our piano: “Music is what feelings sound like.” What a beautiful analogy, don’t you think? Countless studies have proved how beneficial it is to have music in our lives. For example, a 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute showed that musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. But how often do our children get the opportunity to witness music being played live? Not often enough! So when we were invited to Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels, accompanied by a live orchestra at the Victoria Hall in Stoke as part of its U.K. tour, we jumped at the chance! And we weren’t disappointed: we were promised a “cracking” show and Carrot Productions, Aardman and the Picture House Orchestra certainly delivered!
What is Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels?
The first half of the show features some fabulous, never seen before, scenes starring Wallace, the hapless inventor, and his faithful canine companion, Gromit, backstage at the venue. These are interspersed with music from the Picture House Orchestra featuring an eclectic blend of musical styles and presented by the über talented Matthew Sharp.
We were treated to a orchestral rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which sounds AMAZING played by an orchestra) with vocals and superb cello playing from Matthew Sharp. Debussy’s beautiful “Clair de Lune” provided the perfect backdrop for a montage of some of Wallace’s romantic exploits; and some of Wallace & Gromit’s most memorable and thrilling chases were accompanied by a new piece of music, “Cut To The Chase” written by Daniel Whibley especially for the show. Bach, Handel & Vivaldi are also featured, as is, of course, the famous and instantly recognisable Wallace and Gromit theme tune and a piece of music especially composed by Wallace himself, “Concerto in Eee Lad”!! But my favourite piece of the night was Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry About A Thing” arranged for the orchestra by Daniel Whibley and giving each of the different instruments and sections of the orchestra their chance to show off. For the children (and adults) to see all of the instruments and hear them separately really was fabulous.
If you were in the audience at the Victoria Hall last night you would have seen a 3 year old girl in the aisle to the right of the stage, dancing like no one was watching and bringing a tear to her mother’s eye – that was my daughter and it was such a beautiful sight! My 7 year old, however, stayed glued to his seat, transfixed by the orchestra and Wallace and Gromit’s adventures on the big screen. It was truly magical!
The second half of the show is a screening of “The Wrong Trousers,” with the orchestra playing the accompanying music, composed by Julian Nott. Now this is my time to admit something: I had never watched “The Wrong Trousers” before tonight but…isn’t it great!! Perfect for children and adults alike, with enough humour and adventure to keep everyone happy! The orchestra were absolutely superb and it was easy to forget that the music was being played live. In fact, at times I found myself just watching the orchestra to remind myself that they were there, which was fascinating!
We had a toe-tappingly fabulous evening, experiencing superb talent which was highly entertaining for the whole family. All-in-all it was a “cracking” night out – we definitely recommend it!
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels is touring the U.K. until August calling at Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bath, Cardiff, Reading, Gateshead, Carlisle, Edinburgh & Glasgow. You find find the dates, venues and booking information at Carrot Productions’ website.
Now for a bit of Wallace and Gromit trivia…
10 Facts About Wallace & Gromit
- Wallace and Gromit are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year – we first met them in “A Grand Day Out,” back in 1989. In 2009, Nick Park, the creator of Wallace & Gromit, said that Wallace was born on 7 August, 1959 – so that makes him 60 years old this year – another milestone!
- “The Wrong Trousers” is only 30 minutes long but took around 13 months to make!
- Julian Nott (who composed the accompanying music for all of Wallace & Gromit’s adventures and the iconic theme tune) also composed the theme music for Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly.
- Gromit is a virtuoso violinist. It has to be seen to be believed!
- You can take part in modelling workshops with Aardman at some of the venues on the tour. And, if you’re heading to Just So Festival this Summer you can also join in with model-making workshops there to!
- Peter Sallis, who was the original voice of Wallace sadly passed away in 2017. Ben Whitehead became the voice of Wallace after Peter’s retirement but had already voiced other Aardman characters such as Mr. Leaching in “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and one of the pirates in “The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists!
- In 2003, Wallace & Gromit created a limited edition car with Renault: a gadget-tastic vehicle, designed to make travelling more pleasurable.
- To celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2009, Wallace & Gromit hijacked the Google homepage for a day!
- Nick Park, Wallace & Gromit’s creator, has been immortalised on screen as a character in The Simpsons.
- Wallace was originally drawn with a moustache and Gromit was originally a cat!
P.S. Carrot Productions and the Picture House Orchestra are also responsible from the fabulous Snowman Tour every December and tickets have recently gone on sale for this year’s tour. You can read my review from last year here.