Review: Huayi Festival – The Magic Treetop 奇幻树顶

Being a fan of Esplanade PLAYtime! performances, I was really happy when I found out that they will have a Chinese performance in conjunction with Huayi Festival. So we went for the Chinese version of “The Magic Treetop” instead of the English version.

To be honest, I was a little scared that the boy would not enjoy himself as much due to the language difference. So to prep him, I told him that we are going to watch a performance like what he had watch previously. He was excited when he heard that we are watching something similar. And started regurgitating all the animals he saw previously and what happened in the play. But I warned him this time round its going to be Chinese and told him I’m sure he will enjoy it nonetheless.

We bought a package for 4 tickets, as I wish to bring Loi along. I think she should be able to understand most of the things by now. Unfortunately, she fell sick 2 days before the play and didn’t get well until that night of the play. Not wanting to waste the tickets, we brought along our niece V.

Waiting to climb the magic treetop
Waiting to climb the magic treetop

I notice that “The Magic Treetop” came from the same director and creator, Ian Loy, as “The Magic Ocean”. I must say his work were better as compare to “The Magic Jungle”. The story is more cohesive and “teaching” were not so “in the face”.

Creatures in the Magic Treetop

As a summary, these are the creatures that we see in the Magic Treetop. The firefly, a Magpie, horned beetle, bees and not shown in the photo are squirrels. I like how they try to teach the correct pronunciation of words in Chinese through a bee that couldn’t speak Chinese properly. It shows that by mis-pronouncing a word, it can give a totally different meaning. It also tries to teach the 4 intonation by having the bee repeat the same word in the 4 different intonation. This may be a little difficult for the boy to understand now, but I certainly hope that this is the 1st step of exposure.

We also enjoy learning certain terms in Chinese. The boy can name all the creatures that we see in the Magic Treetop in English. However, we make sure we tell him that correct term in Chinese too. The boy could also name “acorn” but we never knew what it is called in Chinese until that day.

Interacting with Chameleon
Interacting with Chameleon

Interaction is also a must in PLAYTime. This time round, they were asked to flap their hands as if it is a wing and “fly” together with the Magpie. At the same time, they had acorns put around the area for them to bring to the squirrels. There were also color discs on the floor which the kids are asked to put onto the Chameleon when the stated color is mention. Fortunately, V got a pink disc and manage to put it on for the Chameleon and the boy got a yellow disc. So he went to put on for the Chameleon and took off the pink disc.

This little activity teaches them both colors and the characteristics of a Chameleon. Apart from the Chameleon, the characteristics of the horned beetle as well as the firefly was also mention.

They also attempt to teach the different opposites. Like rough and smooth, heavy and light, big and small. I think the boy would know all these in English but might be the first time he hears them in Chinese. I hope this is a good exposure.

In the short 45 minutes, I’m sure the kids (and even the parents) have fun and went home with lots of knowledge. I find this production really good that I’m tempted to go for their English version. However, we have a series of performances that we are intending to bring the boy to in the month of March already. As such, we probably have to give it a miss.

If you have miss the Chinese version of “The Magic Treetop”, you still have a chance to catch the English version in March. I highly recommend it as a first step in exposing the kids to performances.

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PLAYTime! The Magic Jungle

This is the 2nd of the series that we went to watch. Back in Aug, we went to watch “The Magic Ocean“. So being the 2nd time, the boy is more familiar with what he is suppose to do. But again he was still reluctant to follow the actions when he was asked to move around.

PLAYTime! The Magic Jungle.

That is us taking photos with the different color trees before the play starts. And I didn’t know that we can actually borrow stools for the boy since he is not tall enough and spent most of his time standing. We only learn about the stools after the play.

Back to the play, its about the jungle animals (obviously) such as gibbons, flying fox, tiger, leopard, sloth bear, etc. It tries to teach concepts like “gliding” (of the flying fox), stripes (tiger) and spots (leopard). It also tries to teach basic colors as seen in the trees and also secondary colors when you mix the basic colors together.

It certainly was more “educational” then that of the Magic Ocean. However, in terms of story line, I feel The Magic Ocean was better and more enjoyable to watch. It doesn’t teach things so into your face. As such, the boy can recall and talk about the scenes after the show much better. However for this, there isn’t much story to talk about, and the “facts” are things he already know. Nonetheless, its still a pretty good play for the younger ones.

They are having another play “PLAYTime! The Magic Treetop” next March. Its from the same director as “The Magic Ocean”. I will most likely bring the boy again, but I understand that there is a Chinese version in conjunction with Huayi Festival 2013. So I think I will bring him to that. I might bring Loi along since the family package means I only have to pay SGD5 more. It will be a good time to expose her to such plays and see her reaction.

Octoburst! My Forest Room

Last Sunday, we met up with E and Ci with their boy Ethan and Ce with her girls Julianne and Cheyenne  to watch “My Forest Room”.

My Forest Room

This is an interactive play that talks about conserving the rainforest in Borneo. It was pretty interesting, just that we failed to check that the play is meant for kids age 4 and above. As such, there wasn’t that much colorful props being used. Hence, the boy and Ethan got bored half way through the show. Julianne and Cheyenne who are older is able to appreciate it more. The boy even decide to go for his afternoon nap half way through the show! In any case, this reminded us to look out for age recommendations before we buy tickets the next time.

We hang around the Esplanade a while more after show and stumble on a free Chinese play about a “dragon” and a “witch” at the foyer. The irony is, the boy seems to enjoy that play more than what we paid for. I think mainly because of the colorful stage and props being used. When the “dragon” came around to “blow feathers”, I raised the boy hand to ask the dragon to come over. But too bad we were a little far back so in the end the feathers never reached us. Nonetheless, the boy had a fun time running around the little “trees” near the area after the play.

The boy with Julianne and Cheyenne @ Esplanade

The Cat in the Hat Play

Two Fridays ago, we finally managed to catch “The Cat In the Hat” by SRT. Before the play, I have already tried preparing the boy for it. I bought the book a few months back. However, since its not colorful, he wasn’t really interested. So a few weeks ago, I borrowed the DVD on “The Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That” and he was finally “introduced” of the character. And of course “Thing 1 and Thing 2”.

The boy is 2.5yo. Initially, I was quite afraid he wouldn’t understand the show. Cause some of the things were imaginary. Like imaginary ball bouncing when Nick and Sally played. However, after the show I’m quite sure he understood at least 80% of the show.

It’s quite cute when he tells me the house “Is Messy” after Thing 1 and Thing 2 played in the house. He also asked “Why Thing 1 and Thing 2 cry?”. To which I replied “Cause they don’t want to go back home”. I will also seize the opportunity to ask him back “Why they need to go home?”. He wasn’t able to answer me, so I explained to him that Mummy is coming home and they have make a mess like he says, which Mummy doesn’t like. So he must not play with the kite in the house and make a mess. He should also be like The Cat In The Hat, to pack up after playing.

The play itself followed quite closely to the book, of course with dramatization on certain parts. Like Thing 1 and Thing 2 didn’t cry in the book, but cried dramatically in the play. I think the boy really enjoyed that part (cause it reminded him of himself).

The next day while Zai was rummaging through his book box to look for a book to read, he “found”  The Cat in The Hat and was so happy. He brought the book to me and asked me to read it to him. Once is not enough, he asked me to read it to him a couple of times. I’m glad that I bought the book, cause now it reinforces what he has seen and he appreciates the book much more. Happy that he loves the play and now the book!

Am looking for more age appropriate plays for him to attend! Did you went to watch “The Cat In The Hat”? How did you find it?

PLAYTime! The Magic Ocean

At the recommendation of a mummy from SMB, we went to attend our first PLAYTime!

PLAYTime! Magic Ocean Tix

“PLAYTime! The Magic Ocean” is an interactive play meant for kids from 2 to 4 years. So I brought Zai along to watch and he had a really good time. He wasn’t so familiar with the sea creatures before the play, but now his vocab has increased. Two weeks since the play, and he is still telling me what he saw and remembers part of the plot.

The Magic Ocean – Fishes

The story is about the sea creatures obviously. It started with the fishes, and the were swimming around in the floor rather then the stage. So they come real close to Zai, who was shy initially and didn’t dare go near them. But choose to watch from a distance.

The Magic Ocean – Zai Watching

For the front part sing along, although he was familiar with the tunes (it was using “Wheels on the Bus” but with lyrics changed), he didn’t really follow along. Still choosing to wait and watch. And when asked to stand up and move with them, the boy was also shy. He only kept close to us.

The Magic Ocean – Sitting on Daddy Shoulder

After the kids were told to stand up, some refuses to sit down. So Zai couldn’t actually see, so Chubby actually place him on his shoulder for a better view. We were sitting right at the back so we weren’t blocking anyone. But that was only for a short while as the actors started moving around so we thought its not so good to let him sit up there for too long.

The Magic Ocean – Shark Making Friends

This scene is where the shark is making friends with the fishes. And there was a part where the crabs came out too. But I didn’t manage to take pics of it. The crab asked the kids to walk sideways. Zai didn’t want to do it there, but subsequently, when he went home he remembered and did it when he starts talking about crabs. The kids were also told to take the “shells” and “paste” it on the crab. I asked the boy if he wants to paste and he gladly say yes. And that is when he starts to warm up and get into the show.

The Magic Ocean – Stingray and Jellyfish

Other sea creatures also came along. From the Stingrays to the jellyfish. The boy was attracted to the lights of the Stingray that he can’t help but move forward to touch it. There was also a part of the story where the little whale is looking for his Mummy. I took the opportunity to tell him that he is not to run away on his own otherwise he will be left alone like the baby whale. He remembers and constantly talk about this part of the stories when we are back home.

Overall, its a really enjoyable show. And I’m glad my boy was not afraid. There were a few todds who were crying when the show started. We have already bought the tix to “The Magic Jungle” and I think the boy will enjoy this even more since he is more experience now and he is more familiar with the animals.