Monday 22 October 2012

Ice Age Live! Review

As I love the Ice Age films I thought it was fantastic that a new live show had been created based on the hit franchise of Ice Age films.  After hearing Michael Curry, co-director of the show, “Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure”, talk about the show saying “I’m really looking forward to bringing the Ice Age herd to life – they’re going to have so much fun in this live show! We are using the very best combinations we can bring to the table, with human actors, comedy, Kung Fu, ice skating, circus, costume performers and video illusion to combine many different forms – whatever works best to tell the story” I imagined that it would be an amazing show to watch.  Following my post about how it sounds like a fun and unique show, I was over the moon and extremely excited when I was offered the opportunity to go to see the show for myself and witness the friendly characters I love from the films go on a brand new adventure in a live show.

We went to see the show on the Saturday, hoping to enjoy a lovely family day together watching the afternoon show of Ice Age Live at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.  We arrived at the Arena early to give us plenty of time to get the tickets and get settled ready to watch the show….I was like an excited little girl and I was definitely not going to miss a second of the show.

At the arena there was a decent choice of drinks and snacks available to purchase from either side of the main arena where the show was being held.  In my opinion the drinks were not excessively overpriced, they were what I expected drinks to cost at an event such as a live show, with Fruit Shoots costing £2 and bottles of pop costing £2.50.  Lee who lives on coffee had a couple whilst we were there and we both agreed that the coffee was very reasonably priced, costing £2 for a latte.  There was sharing bags of chocolate, popcorn and small tubs of ice cream available to purchase all of which I thought was priced in-line with live shows and cinema prices.  Also on sale were pancakes with a choice of sauces and/or a scoop of ice cream; I decided to get little man a pancake but I was very disappointed with it and little man did not seem that impressed either and refused to eat it, it takes a tad rubbery and at £3.50 for a large one I would have thought it would have been a better quality pancake.

There was also Ice Age Live merchandise available to purchase, including a selection of balloons, inflatable characters, t-shirts and character soft toys.  I was tempted to get little man a soft toy but I thought they were very expensive with Manny costing £30 and Scrat, Sid and Diego costing £25 so sadly he went without especially as we had already bought him an Ice Age icicle wand with lights for £12.

After stocking up on drinks and using the facilities (there was plenty of toilets either side of the arena and baby changing facilities) we found our seats and settled down ready for the show to begin.  Not long before the show kicked off we noticed people climbing up long rope ladders and to sit in chairs high above in the ceiling to operate the lights (I am very impressed that they sat there for nearly 2 hours operating the lights).  In the centre of the arena was a large rectangle of ice with a big screen as the backdrop and a ledge going across the screen with the stands both sides and in front of the stage.

Then suddenly a voice filled the arena, the loveable Sid announcing that the show was about to start in a few minutes.  I am not ashamed to say at the point I was delirious with excitement and I think little man was wondering what was going on and what all the fuss was about.  With a new storyline I was excited to see what adventures the characters would get up to and to see what characters would appear in the show along with any new characters that had been created for the show (I do not want to spoil the excitement of a unknown new story for those going to see the show so I will try not give away to many specifics about the story).

As darkness filled the arena the screen lit up with a large mountain of ice as the background and on the ledge above the stage Scrat, the adorable saber-toothed squirrel made an appearance and promptly grabbed the big acorn that rested on the ledge to fulfill his obsession with acorns.  Scrat then caused a big crack in the ice, with it visually being represented on the screen and a large noise echoing through the arena of the ice ‘cracking’ which could be felt underfoot with a vibrating feeling emanating from the stage due to the large eruption of noise.

Following Scrat’s appearance the big screen slid open in the centre and from the back slid 2 big islands of ice with much loved characters from Ice Age stood proudly on them.  From the dark depths of backstage came Peaches, Sid, Diego, Ellie, Crash, Eddie and Manny.  When Manny appeared little man let out a shriek of delight and his eyes glowed with excitement.  The characters were tremendously impressive, Manny was huge!  All of the characters looked very real and exactly like they are in the films.  I was extremely impressed by the quality of the characters and amazed to see the characters I love from the films coming to life in front of my eyes.

At the beginning dancers also came on stage with the characters with their icy blue costumes with adornments perfectly representing ice and icicles.  The dancers beautifully skated a perfectly coordinated dance on the ice with Peaches, Sid, Crash and Eddie dancing amongst them too.

Following the striking dance routine most of the characters exited the stage leaving the loveably clumsy Sid the sloth, the mischievous possum brothers Crash and Eddie and two very cute molehogs on the stage.  With this playful bunch of characters left on the stage a fun and entertaining dance ensued.

With a change of atmosphere and the music also changing from energetic and uplifting to daunting I noticed little man pointing at the bottom of the stage where 2 large birds were stalking their way towards the other characters with a 3rd bird heading towards Sid.  I was impressed with the birds’ costumes, with vivid colours and magnificent detailing the birds were an impressive sight to see.

Following the dramatic atmosphere with the dangerous wild birds the atmosphere changed to a more peaceful one.  A stunning routine was performed by acrobatic dancers on hoops in the air as Sid, Ellie and Peaches watched peacefully.  Following the magical acrobatic performance the possum brothers and Peaches fell into a slumber with Sid attempting to find sweet sleep too.

As the story progressed with the leader of the 3 giant prehistoric flightless birds making a dramatic appearance.  The leader, a dangerous white prehistoric bird called Shadow theatrically appeared on stage by exquisitely flying down from above.  Seeing the beautiful white bird glide down from above was very eye-catching and beautifully dramatic, and I loved that by making Shadow fly onto the stage they truly bought the big bird with a wing span of 4 meters to life before our surprised eyes.  Shadow’s dramatic flight became even more magnificent when he flew effortlessly off of the stage grasping onto Peaches!  I loved that the spectacle surrounding Shadow changed pace as cleverly out of the main costume, Shadow was the centre of a truly spectacular dance/dual scene with one of the possum brothers. 

As the herd continued on their adventure I was impressed at the variety of scenes.  I loved the magnificent dance routine involving a troop of foxes, which enchanted me and I thought it was a great touch to have Scrat appear in between the action and adventure, trying with all of his might to get hold of his beloved acorn whilst dangling from above.  The drama and tension surrounding the scenes with Shadow were magnificently portrayed and amplified with use of music, lighting and splendid props.    I was impressed how they had considered that to portray a fight scene between characters that it was best done by having the character disrobe from their main costume. 

I also loved that just before the first part of the show came to an intense end; Scratte, the female saber-toothed flying squirrel who like Scrat loves acorn as is a love interest for Scrat, made an appearance and I was extremely impressed her costume and that she depicted a sensual demeanour.  Following a high, the herd’s adventure became dramatic with a theatrical twist happening making the path of their adventure unknown.  In the dark, the icicles above glowed beautifully as the herd’s adventure continued with the mystery of their adventure and the unknown being shown fantastically with music, mysterious lighting and with the addition of intriguing blobs that looked like jellyfish gliding around the stage.

I was delighted to see one of my favourite characters from one of the Ice Age films join the herd on their adventure; making a dramatic entrance with 4 splendid looking polar bears the quirky, swashbuckling one eyed weasel Buck became the life of the stage.  In the midst of Buck’s funky song and dance routine I was blown away when 3 of the polar bears balanced on a big ball!  It was truly dramatic and excellently performed, being the perfect high point to end the first act of the story.

I was thoroughly impressed with the first act of the show and was amazed with how much had happened within the 50 minutes, all of which was magnificently acted and performed.  It was good to have a 20 minute interlude before the second act of the show; with plenty of time to use the facilities, top on drinks and for little man to have a walk about to stretch his legs before we once again became mesmerized by the show.

As the second act began we were witness to an impressive dance between Scrat and Scratte; with a golden acorn being the centre of the scene.  Following this dance the herd reappeared on the stage with Buck still part of the gang, helping them on their adventure in his true crazy but helpful hero way.  During this time on their adventure there were a few gorgeous dance routines that had music that perfectly complemented the atmosphere and mood of the dances. 

I loved the inclusion of a tribe of Mini Sloths who worship Sid as their Fire King in the show.  Their costumes were funky and bright and the song and dance routine was lively and entertaining, which was a great change of atmosphere from what had previously happened, being a breath of fresh air from all of the previous drama, mystery and tenseness.

As the herd’s adventure and the story was coming to a close, a dramatic fight scene was masterfully performed with the music encapsulating the atmosphere and action.  The show finished as the herd’s adventure came to a touching end which was portrayed beautifully by the characters.

To conclude this magnificent show, in turn all of the dancers and characters came back onto the stage and as the magnificent cast filled the stage the atmosphere in the arena was electric.

I was truly and utterly blown away by this show, hand on heart it is the best show I have ever seen.  I loved every second of the show and would definitely watch it again.  It most definitely lived up its spectacularly mammoth description and is a very special show for families to enjoy and love.

The show is a masterpiece with a vast variety of different forms of media, props, human actors and dancers, effects and an assortment of performances being intertwined and combined to create this truly unique show that brings the magic of the Ice Age to life.   This mammoth show is a perfect blend of musical theatre, ice dance, acrobatics, majestic props and magnificent performances.  I was thoroughly impressed by the splendid choreographed dances and battles which were excellently performed and I thought the inclusion and blend of Kung Fu, circus performance, ice skating and dance helped make it a stunning, attention grabbing show.  The show had a hint of Cirque Du Soleil about it at times with the brilliant cast of acrobatic performers spinning, tumbling and dancing to the music.  I was surprised quite a few times at how magnificent the performances were and I was awe-struck when Shadow swooped down from the ceiling and even more so when he flew off with Peaches and I was shocked and delighted when the polar bears balanced on the ball and mesmerized by the acrobatic performances high up in the air.

I thought the stage was great and loved the inclusion of the ledge above the stage which made the show more interesting with characters appearing up on the ledge as well as below on the ice.  I loved the light show which added to the different scenes and thought it was great that there were icicles suspended from the ceiling, I loved the twinkling lights that looked like stars which were on the ceiling and thought it was a lovely touch that it was snowing at one point too.  I really liked that they used video illusion in the show and that the background changed on the big screen depending on what was happening on the stage.  I think the inclusion of realistic props added to the wonder of the show and helped bring the characters and the story to life.  It was great to see the characters interact with the props making the story more interesting to watch.

At first it was a tad weird hearing the characters because (unless I heard wrong) they are not voiced by the same people as they are in the films however I was soon enchanted by the show and did not notice this especially as the voices had the same feel, tone and depth as the characters do in the films.  Both Lee and I were extremely impressed with the synchronised lips and realistic facial expressions of the characters; it was done amazingly being perfectly timed so that it looked like the characters were speaking and singing.  I was thoroughly impressed with the music and lyrics of the show which was masterfully entwined with the story and all of the music and songs perfectly represented the different scenes on the stage.  I loved the variety of music and songs, with a variety of genres and moods being represented through the music including dramatic scores, catchy songs and beautiful melodies.

I was tremendously impressed with how fantastic the characters looked, the costumes were amazing!  The detail was superb and intricate.  The creative team did a fantastic job in bringing the characters to life by designing the characters so that they look real and authentic.  I loved Peaches, her big eyes were gorgeous and I loved that Manny was mammoth in size.  As well as the fantastic character costumes I also loved the costumes of the dancers and other performers which also had fantastic detail and complimented the scenes they appeared in.

I enjoyed the storyline which I think was in keeping with the storylines of the Ice Age films and good for children to enjoy.  I think that the show may have benefited by adding a sad song towards the end of the show in the scene with Ellie to show her apprehension better before the joy of the final scenes and the elation at the end of the adventure.  I liked that throughout the show Scrat made a few appearances as he does in the films.
The team behind this show should be very proud of what they have achieved and I want to thank the artists, performers, creative team and supporting crew for the fantastic show we watched and enjoyed as a family.

I was apprehensive that the show would be too long for little man and as he is still young he would not sit still throughout and get bored rather than watch it and enjoy it but thankfully my fears were unfounded and he was mesmerized by the show.  He loved it and was very good, sitting in awe throughout and shrieking in delight at the characters on the stage.  He loved his icicle wand and waved it about in excitement; in the dark of the arena the different colour wands that were waved by children all around the arena lit up the darkness, adding to the atmosphere and mystic of the show. 

As little man is still very young I don’t think he appreciated the show as much as older children would however he still had a good time.  I would love it if they brought out a DVD of the show so that I could buy one so that little man (and mummy!) can watch it again; especially when he is older and can fully appreciate the show and it would make a lovely keepsake to remember the magical show we saw together.

We all loved the show and thought it was a truly spectacular and magical show.  It was fantastic to see the characters from Ice Age come to life in such a beautiful way and I was thoroughly impressed with the whole show.  I was enchanted by the show and wish I could see it again.

“Ice Age Live!  A Mammoth Adventure” is a fantastic film for families to see and I am sure both children and adults with love this mammoth show!

“Ice Age Live!  A Mammoth Adventure” celebrates its world premiere at Wembley Arena on the 2nd of November 2012, launching the beginning of a 5 year global tour that is planned to visit over 30 countries on 5 continents.  The show has now left Cardiff but it is being shown at Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena on the 25th-28th of October 2012. 

You can buy tickets to go and see this stunning new production via the Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure website.

* Ice Age Live kindly sent us tickets to attend the show to review for free, despite this I have written an honest review with my own words and opinions *

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