The stage show of Babe, The Sheep Pig has begun a UK tour and we were lucky enough to go to the opening night in Leeds last night.
It was kind of a date night for my son and I, a much-needed bit of time spent with my eldest child and he declared it ‘the best day of his life’ as we drove home. I’m not sure that’s true but it was just so heartwarming and sweet to hear.
It’s been a while since I took Sam to the theatre and having only recently moved to the area it was our first visit to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, so a real treat for both of us. When the film of Babe came out in the 90s, it was such a joy to watch and I’m actually really surprised I’ve never watched it with my kids.
Adapted by David Wood from Dick King-Smith’s novel The Sheep-Pig, Babe is a story of a pig raised on a farm by a sheepdog. He discovers he has a talent for herding sheep, and goes on to protect the flock and triumph in the sheepdog trials with his owner, Farmer Hoggett.
It’s billed as ‘the little pig with big dreams’.
The stage show was a delight. From the beginning it was full of life, fun and playfulness as the sheep ‘baaaa-ed’ and danced on the stage. The design of the theatre is such that everyone has a great view, so there were no worries about little ones not being able to see what was going on on stage.
The animals dance about on the grassy-looking stage in front of the rickety barn set. The doors of the barn open and close, taking the characters from farmhouse to sheep pen to sheep trials. It all seems to fit together so seamlessly and amazed Sam, who said he didn’t realised it would open and close and be such a part of the show.
The story was told with music, dance and comedy and I think Sam, at seven, was the perfect age for it although I’d say it was suitable for all ages. There was just one part near the end of the first half where I think my three-year-old daughter would have been a bit worried, but I think she would have coped. A wolf ‘baddy’ comes onto the stage and is a pretty dark presence, going for Ma, the mother sheep amid darkness and dry ice.
The way the sheep moved and transformed into different characters along the way was just so magical, and had all the children gripped from start to finish.
I loved the way Babe moved, he was a mechanical puppet with cute little feet that did a kind of trot/run thing that was really sweet. I think the only thing that I would have liked to have seen was my favourite line from the film, where he asks the sheepdog Fly, ‘Can I call you mom?’
It was lovely to watch the show with Sam and see it through the eyes of a child. He was singing and clapping along towards the end of the show with most of the audience, and was busy looking at flyers afterwards to see which events he could come to next!
Babe is on at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday and then it tours the UK until September.
We were asked to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to write an honest review of Babe.