Sesame Street Live [Theatre Review]

I’m not quite sure when I last watched an episode of Sesame Street, but I’m fairly sure I was about a metre shorter and I’m definitely sure that I was at least 6 stones lighter. But I still love the Count who counts.

So when I saw that Sesame Street Live was coming to town county, I was interested to see how essentially a live broadcast stage show translated onto the live, but much smaller, stage in Dartford.

This is my first visit to the Orchard at Dartford, and I have to admit that I was quite interested to see it knowing that my better half was on stage here as a child star.

The building itself seemed nice, relatively modern, a classically municipal looking piece of architecture that could be a theatre, council building, swimming pool, or court house. Once inside the atrium opens up and the merchandise machine was gearing up ready to sell cuddly things, flashing light type things, or combinations of the two, to the hordes of children who will be flooding through the door in a short time.

We had arrived early and so went up the steps to the restaurant to sample the food. The menu was good, but pricey for the setting, but it was too cold outside to wander far, so we decided to suck it up and just enjoy the day. I have to say that it was possibly the best burger I have had in a long time, and would highly recommend it. The kids meals didn’t go down so well, and my wife opted for a (much cheaper) sandwich from the concessions shop [top tip!].

The children started to flow in through the doors and the cash-only merchandise stall kicked into action. The excitement was building and the sugar was starting to kick in from the pick-and-mix. It was time to go in.

We found our seats and I was very impressed with the legroom, being seated at the front of the second tier of the main stalls. The lights went down and unfortunately that’s where my interest stopped. I fell asleep.

Now I know that is a heinous crime to admit within a theatre review, and it says more about me than about the show, or the theatre, but in all seriousness the on-stage action just wasn’t enough to keep my interest. After a quick 20 mins nap I was back awake as Elmo elicited more screams from the enthralled children.

In comparison to the In the Night Garden Live show we’ saw a couple of years ago, this was definitely bigger, with the characters being full size, not hand-puppetry. The cast did well to keep interchanging the characters on stage with maybe 7 actors playing 12 parts with 6 on stage at any one time, or something along those lines.

The show got better as it went on and as the children got braver and joined in with the singing and shouting of answers, the whole theatre came alive with the sound of unadulterated enjoyment. Children of all ages between 1 and, at a guess, 9 were locked on, immersed in the world of Sesame Street. The adults were firmly in nostalgia.

The show felt the right length, with a well placed and good length interval. Sesame Street was good solid family entertainment, it lacked some of the magic of Peppa Pig or In the Night Garden, but it made up for it in energy.

Family and Parenting visited Sesame Street Live at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford on Saturday 4 February 2012.