Beatles for Babies review at Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury – ‘imaginative theatre for a young audience’
Early years company La Petita Malumaluga have performed this tribute to the Fab Four all over the world and it’s not hard to see why this nearly wordless show has gone down such a storm internationally. These dates at the Boing Children’s Festival in Canterbury mark the British premiere.
The concept is simple: four musicians (Alba Haro on cello, Laura Marin on violin, Nil Villa on alto saxophone, Albert Vila on percussion) playing stripped back, jazz-influenced interpretations of Beatles tunes in the round. Jordi Bello’s arrangements are charming to listen to, but what makes the show so effective for its audience of under-3s is the dynamic staging (by Vilà and Eva Vilamitjana). All four musicians are in near constant motion, with Vilamitjana providing additional vibrancy as the show’s only non-musical performer.
The all-white design (by Paula Bosch in collaboration with La Petita Malumaluga) means that the focus stays on the music and the music-makers, with the few choice bits of inventive percussion thrown in as the show progresses ensuring that there’s always something new and interesting to look at and listen to.
Special mention goes to the section where Vila conducts audience members playing dozens of colourful boomwhacker tubes, and to the lovely suspended drums that also serve as little projector screens for Anna Carreras’ fun projections. Claudi Palomino’s lighting design is also instrumental in creating drama, helping to raise this sweet performance from mere tribute act to a real theatre experience for young audiences.