In The Night Garden Live: Did the stage show live up to small screen expectations?
This is a little embarrassing, but I believe In The Night Garden Live is one of the cultural events of the year. In all seriousness.
I found myself looking forward to the show with the same excitement I used to experience as a teenager before going to see a band like U2 or Radiohead in concert.
My 15-month old doesn't watch much TV, but the BBC's In The Night Garden has become a favourite - not just his, but mine, and my husband's, and my son's grandparents' and aunties' favourite show too.
It's a work of art and the characters and their songs have somehow infiltrated our lives to the extent that I find myself affectionately humming "Yes my name is Igglepiggle" while loading the dishwasher or changing a nappy.
The prospect of actually seeing Mr. Piggle, Upsy Daisy, the Tomblimboos and Makka Pakka 'in person' on stage (and the booking of a personal audience with Igglepiggle after the show) filled me with anticipation.
And also slight nervousness, just as I used to feel when going to watch some pop star idol perform. Would the live show measure up to the charm of what we're used to on TV?
I was secretly terrified the magic would be ruined if I spotted an actor half-dressed in an Igglepiggle costume with a fag in his mouth, muttering about 'bloody kids'.
But I'm happy to report that everything was just as we hoped, and it made the perfect family day out. From the moment my son glimpsed the showdome with four ginormous Haa-Hoos bouncing around outside, he was intrigued. And once inside the dome, the air was filled with music and sounds from the show, which got us all in the mood.
I was relieved to find there was plenty of space and well-designed seating for little ones, with easy buggy parking and access to baby changing - plus a great merchandise stall where we ended up indulging in the purchase of an adorable In The Night Garden T-shirt and a Tombliboo soft toy.
The show itself lasted around 45 minutes and was like an extended episode of the TV programme in format, from the starry night at the beginning to Igglepiggle sailing away at the end.
When the first 'lifesized' character, Makka Pakka, wheeled his little bicycle onto the stage, the audience, toddlers and parents alike, went wild with excitement and the dome was filled with joyful cheers.
He was soon followed by all the other favourites - Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy, the Tombliboos and the Pontipines; the Ninky Nonk and the Pinky Ponk.
Everything was beautifully done and just like it is on TV, from the sounds the characters make to their costumes and the way they move.
It really was special to see them 'for real' and my son, along with all the other children, was riveted with amazement, as if a dream was coming true.
After the show, we, along with others who had booked, had the amazing opportunity to come 'face to face' with Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy. At first a little shy to approach them, my son was soon trying to grab Igglepiggle's nose and having a cuddle with his hero.
As we walked away (our son already in love with his Tombliboo toy), my husband turned to me and said: "I feel like I've been in the presence of greatness".
And our little boy and I knew exactly what he meant.
In The Night Garden Live runs until 22 July in London and from 18 August-23 September in Manchester and Birmingham.
Tickets cost from £10 - £27.50. To book tickets visit www.nightgardenlive.com or call 0333 300 0023. You can also follow on Twitter: @nightgardenlive
You can check out the In the Night Garden trailer below:
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