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A princely play for Christmas.

The Little Prince

Northern Stage, Newcastle, until January 13

The proof in the pudding of any Christmas show is whether or not the little ones like it.

After all, that is what they are all about. So off traipsed Emma, 10, and Jimmy, six, Kidd, from Prudhoe, to watch their first-ever 'drama' at a theatre. It also just happened to be the first Christmas show at the new Northern Stage, after years of top-notch festive productions there when it was Newcastle Playhouse.

Were they impressed? Too right. From the outset, the visual effects have both young and old entranced, with Stage 1 transformed into the Sahara Desert.

The Little Prince is based on the famous French children's book by Antoine de Saint Exupery, about a little boy from a far-away planet who captures the heart and dreams of a stranded aviator.

We learn how children see the important things in life much more clearly than adults and as the aviator attempts to repair his plane, the Little Prince's stories and requests encourage the aviator to gradually remember the child he once was, the drawings he once drew and most importantly, the person he would rather be.

It is, in fact, like a collection of little stories showing you the inadequacies of many people, what is most important in life and that friendship is paramount.

They were morals which were certainly not lost on Emma and Jimmy, as they were taken in by the array of characters, fantastic sets, costumes and props.

A certain amount of audience participation makes sure all ages are kept alert ( who wouldn't be with giant object like a life-sized propeller plane, an eight-foot fork, life-size igloo, huge Milky Way and a scaled-down replica of the Statue of Liberty?

Giving them a good run for their money, though, are the characters, such as the slippery snake, the king, the Rose in a tutu of petals, through to the magical Lamplighter who has the simple but vital job to turn the lights of the world on and off ( and on and off and on and off at a frenetic pace!

For Jimmy and Emma, though, it was the hilarious fox (played by Peter Peverley) who stood out. Mum Linda thought the same ( adding he reminded her of Bobby Thompson in places (Peverley had a Bobby Thompson stage act at one time, funnily enough!).

The story has many twists and turns and it has to be said some of it must be over the heads of the younger ones (and probably a few adults too), but for the most part this is simply a hugely enjoyable, colourful and magical show.

Just ask Jimmy and Emma ( they now can't wait to go back to the theatre.

The Little Prince is at Northern Stage until January 13 (excluding Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day). 10am/2pm/7pm (see website for daily performance times)

Tickets: pounds 20/pounds 15 (concessions available), Family Tickets from pounds 43

BSL Interpreted Performance 16 Dec 2pm

Tickets and Information: (0191) 230 5151

Book Online: www.northernstage.co.uk
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 6, 2006
Words:515
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