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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

Winnie the Pooh The New Musical - Riverside Studios Review

Please note - Other than the last photo, these pictures are of the US Cast

Many adults these days would be able to look back at their childhoods and say that they can remember settling down to watch the adventures of Winnie the Pooh and his friends in The Hundred Acre Wood and would probably remember the warm fuzzy feelings that came with it. Even now, the famous honey loving bear is just as popular, with today’s children still being drawn into his world. And now, Pooh, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Piglet and Christopher Robin have made the leap from the pages of our storybooks, the jump from our television screens, coming to life on stage.

Having proved very popular in its US premiere, Winnie The Pooh The New Musical has arrived in the UK, playing at Riverside Studios ahead of a UK Tour. The characters that we grew up loving come to life before your very eyes in the form of large cuddly toy style puppets, operated by talented cast clad in pastel clothing matching the style of A.A Milne’s stories and the beautiful set. This wonderful cast become the characters we know and love with spot on accents and characterisations as they swap and change characters throughout the show and the overall run of the production.

The show sees a few familiar Winnie the Pooh stories merged together as Pooh and his friends wait for Christopher Robin to return from school. Pooh searches for honey, Piglet gets into trouble with a kite on a blustery day, little Roo takes bouncing lessons with Tigger and Rabbit tries his best to keep his garden in order.

Fresh from playing the role in the US, Jake Bazel plays the honey loving bear Winnie the Pooh here, the voice perfect and the audience hanging on his every word. He is instantly lovable in the role, and those warm fuzzy feelings we associate with the character are there by the bucketload. As soon as the audience see’s Pooh come onto the stage, there is a sense of greeting an old friend. Lottie Grogan’s Piglet is innocent and adorable, always there to help Pooh when he gets into a pickle and the embodiment of the idea that little people can do big things.

Robbie Noonan’s energetic and charming performance as Tigger proves a particular highlight, bouncing around the stage with a bright smile and bundles of energy. His vocal performance is perfect for the character with his song ‘Whoop-De-Dooper Bounce’ proving to be simply smile inducing. Alex Cardall jumps from character to character, playing Owl, Eeyore and Rabbit at the performance I attended, each with a unique voice and style. I particularly enjoyed his performance as Eeyore, the Donkey. We all remember him, unlucky, plodding around and always a little bit sad, but even so he’s joining in with the adventures and even now, still the character that everyone would love to hug. Smaller puppets, operated at this performance by Benjamin Durham and Chloe Gentles help to bring the Hundred Acre wood to life, from butterflies and bees to snowflakes, with Harry Boyd also becoming Rabbit for the bows that see all the characters come together, much to the delight of the audience.

The set is charming, simplistic but effective, pastel colours, sunlight lighting and a running stream, perfect for Pooh Sticks of course. There is a sense of innocence around the whole production, adults in the audience just as captivated as the children. Whilst the adults revisit their childhood, greeting characters like friends and remembering stories (the opening ‘Winnie The Pooh’ song providing a particularly large hit of nostalgia), the children are finding new friends, learning to love the characters, and being perfectly introduced to the wonders of live theatre.

Winnie the Pooh The New Musical is family entertainment at its most charming, its most welcoming and it’s most adorable. You can’t help but smile when you see these wonderful puppets, so perfectly voiced by the talented cast and you will walk away thinking that this show was one of the cutest things you’ll ever see.


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