Paw Patrol Live: Race to the Rescue at Wembley Arena
The truth about becoming a parent is the inevitability, and frightening speed, with which one’s cultural and social life succumbs to being dominated by the interests of the little one, over and above one’s own. For those who thought they would never be up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to haul the family to Wembley Arena for a live show based on their favourite cartoon (along with the rest of London’s lively children it would seem), that assumption was wrong, and the realisation of the fact is only compounded by neighbouring Wembley Stadium preparing to host none other than Foo Fighters later that day. Oh how life changes.
Thankfully, the creators of these shows are more than aware that it’s not just the tiddlers in the audience whose attention needs holding – and to whom the ticket price needs justifying. And so the new Paw Patrol show, which completes its UK summer tour here in London, delivers just what is needed: an imaginatively crafted stage spectacle that captures the joy and delight of the animated adventure series but stands in its own right as a visual and auditory display of entertainment.
The design of the pups themselves (Chase, Rocky, Skye and team) is inspired, as each performer dons what is essentially a giant soft toy puppet with adjustable features and tails, but still with their top half visible, so the sense of inhabiting the characters is effective but allows them also to convey emotion and project their voices. The song arrangements are a lot of fun and sung with gusto by the talented cast, while the narrative ticks along engagingly as the beloved heroic litter are roped in to help Mayor Goodway beat Mayor Humdinger (from Foggy Bottom) in a race in the little cars they actually drive around the stage. The hip-hop cheerleader-style dancing chicken interludes are particularly brilliant, and the mayor coming down into the crowd briefly allows the kids a taste of audience participation, alongside being encouraged to assist the dogs solve clues around Adventure Bay. Whether intentional or not, the volume of the music also means the cacophony of shouting, crying and kids-making-kid-noises is drowned out enough that it doesn’t interrupt appreciation of the musical.
One drawback is that a screen behind the action is heavily relied upon to provide context and background scenery, but is inexplicably almost entirely obscured for those in seats on either side of the arena – the bottom line being to make sure to get central seats to get a full experience. The merchandise heavily sold by reps in the foyer also gives off the nagging feeling of parents being rinsed for cash at the behest of their little ones’ provoked desires (£28 for a light-up plastic Paw Patrol toy, which no doubt won’t be played with after today? No, thanks).
But such niggles aside, by the end of the show, the gung-ho performers have the whole arena on their feet dancing, ending a fun-filled 75 minutes on a high. Overall, it’s a great way to spend a morning with little ones and give them a taste of live performance without being in the confines of a quiet theatre.
Paw Patrol Live: Race to the Rescue is on UK tour from 26th July until 3rd September 2022. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.