We were fortunate enough to be invited to see Alex Morley Productions ‘Christmas Spectacular’ at Stonham Barns, Suffolk to provide a review of the performance. We have seen a previous show by Alex earlier in the year so was excited to be going back. This time the show was in the newly completed theatre. It’s spacious, with an air of excitement from the second you walk through the door. There’s also popcorn, sweets, drinks and ice-cream so you can make it a real ‘treat day’.
The show is a 90 minute festive, family performance with comedy, magic, dancing and acrobatics. I went along with my husband, my son (age 4, who is autistic) and my niece (age 10). I can honestly say that each one of us enjoyed the show, all with our own favourite acts.
My son, J loved Alex. He is the comedian of the group and his slapstick, ‘cheesy’ jokes were making us laugh. For example, Alex’s attempt at learning a new magic trick with a banana had J laughing and smiling. He also liked the acrobatics by Viktoria Murtinova constantly saying “wow” as she climbed, twisted and hung on hoops and drapes without a single slip! He was also a big fan of the popcorn…
For my niece, she loved Alex and two of his glamourous female performers doing their own version of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ which resulted in lots of ‘3 boob bra’ jokes from her (you’ll have to go see the show to find out what she’s on about). The song was light hearted with innuendos that had us adults laughing, without crossing the line of a family show. I will add that she also loved the magic acts. She kept leaning over, about to tell me how the trick is done, then stopping and saying “oh, maybe not” as the tricks would take twists and turns. In the end she never figured how it all worked. J’s response was to inform her that it’s “real magic”.
My husband was impressed by the professionalism (yet relaxed, comedic attitude) of the performers and the timing of everything. There was a good rotation of different acts to keep everyone interested. The show had a relaxed, panto feel to it which was perfect for the Christmas season. He was also a fan of the singer Hannalise, who I agree, had lovely voices and stage presence.
My own favourite part of the show was the Christmas atmosphere. Now that J has broke up from nursery for the holidays, and we have no clubs or therapy sessions to go to, it’s lovely to have family time all together. The Christmas songs, the lights, the decorations provided such a stunning scene. It’s been the perfect start to our Christmas time together. I will admit that I did ‘bopped’ along with lots of the Christmas songs…and to the embarrassment of both my niece and son, I also sang along to The Greatest Showman songs (and I’m not even going to apologise, haha).
In terms of J and his autism, the show was more than suitable for him. The venue had space for J to move around, have a wiggle, sit on the floor…all without disturbing anyone else. He wore his ear defenders as it helps him cope with crowds and unexpected sounds, but there was never any particularly upsetting or unexpected sounds, just lots of music. The visuals were beautiful with lots of lights, which is always something J loves. He was watching the projections on the ceiling and exploring the decorations. Nothing is ‘in your face’, and no one comes leaping in the audience. It was all very fun and relaxed.
At the end of the show, the children are invited up onto the stage to collect a ‘goody bag’ from the cast. They can also have their photos taken with them. The ladies were very friendly and welcoming to the children. Alex was chatty and as funny off stage, as he is on it.
The show is running from 20th until 31st December (no shows on Christmas Day or Boxing Day) with a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for £40. To book and find out more details then check out the website at www.stonhambarns.co.uk.
Disclaimer: We received our tickets free in return for a genuine review. All opinions are honest and our own.