Hey Duggee – the Live Theatre Show

Jan 29 2023 | By More

★★★★☆   A-Woof!

Festival Theatre, Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jan 2023
Review by Thom Dibdin

Hey Duggee and the five Squirrels who are the regular attendees at his club house in the popular Cbeebies cartoon, rock up to the Festival Theatre with an almost pitch-perfect production for pre-school audiences.

Pretty much everything is as it should be. The Squirrels – knee-high hand-held puppets and grown-up sized Duggee – look great. The music and the voices, particularly Benedict Hastings who both narrates and operates Duggee, are spot on, and the whole looks just a psychedelically spectacular as the original.

Sarah Palmer, Vinnie Monachello, Clarke Joseph-Edwards, Lunga Anele-Skosana, Kaidyn Niall Hinds, Benedict Hastings and Jane Crawshaw.

Of course there are badges. The whole point of Hey Duggee is that in each seven minute episode the Squirrels earn a different badge. And for the Live Theatre Show, the visiting squirrel members of the audience each get their own sheet of stickers as they enter auditorium, to earn during the show.

Duggee hug

The TV original’s formula is pretty much brought to life, although it runs for a fraction over an hour. The difference is that all the Squirrels: Betty (Sarah Palmer), Tag (Vinnie Monachello), Roly (Clarke Joseph-Edwards), Happy (Kaidyn Niall Hinds) and Norrie (Jane Crawshaw) are introduced at the beginning with an “isn’t it time for…” and there is just the one final Duggee hug, as the squirrels depart to meet their parents.

Clarke Joseph-Edwards, Vinnie Monachello, and Benedict Hastings.

Seven badges are rolled up into the whole piece, with the initial idea of earning the Theatre Badge quickly veering off into Space, an Egg badge and on a walking mission (but no badge for this one), along with the more obvious A Cappella, Singing, Choreography and Costume badges rolled into the process.

My specialist reviewer – a cynical eight year old with whom I have shared many, many episodes of Hey Duggee – was less than content that the script draws on so many existing TV episodes – the Space, the Singing and the Walking Badges in particular. Although not, ironically, the magnificent Theatre Badge from season two.

bouncing planets

His complaint was that he knew what was happening next. I suspect that the much younger pre-school-aged target audience appreciate that aspect a lot more. As well as the huge planets which come bouncing out into the stalls for the Space badge.

Lunga Anele-Skosana and the company in Hey Duggee – the Live Theatre Show.

But he still gives it a big thumbs up; being particularly appreciative of the puppet-handling performers and the hard-working Lunga Anele-Skosana, who fills in with nearly all the supporting cast, including Chew Chew the panda, Mrs. Weaver the golden-voiced beaver and the supercilious Hennie the Ostrich.

pop culture references

One of Hey Duggee’s greatest assets is that it has an older target audience too. Parents who find a resonance with its wide range of pop culture references. Sadly the stage show is less able to deliver on this front. No overt Apocalypse Now references – a quick note about biscuits from Chew Chew aside.

There is a nice touch of foreshadowing of the Stick Song, however, (which has the four-year-olds out of their seats when it does arrive) and the notion that Duggee might not be the all-knowing wonder that his Squirrels believe him to be is still there in the Choreography badge.

All told, this is a brilliant trip down to Duggee’s club house for young and old fans alike.

Running time one hour (no interval).
Festival Theatre 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT.
Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jan 2023
Fri 10am, 2pm; Sat/Sun: 10am, 1pm, 3.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

King’s Theatre Glasgow, 297 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4JN
Thurs 25 – Sat 27 May 2023
Thurs, Fri: 10.30am, 2pm; Sat: 10am, 1pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Kaidyn Niall Hinds, Clarke Joseph-Edwards, Vinnie Monachello, Benedict Hastings, Jane Crawshaw and Sarah Palmer.


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