Darebin Arts’ Loud Mouth and the Melbourne Fringe brought sunshine and a cheery sing-along into the northern suburbs with Peter Coombe’s, Wash Your Kids in Orange Juice. A bubbly show for young kids and the young at heart to sing and dance away Melbourne’s lingering cold.

Peter Coombe performed some of his family favourites accompanied by Phil Cunneen on a grand piano and keyboards. All toddlers, younger children, and parents bounced along in their seats, and were invited to dance in the aisles with the six smiley, singing and dancing teenage girls from Theatre Bugs.

Peter plays a number of hits from his gold albums on acoustic guitar. All catchy tunes. He has an easy going voice and plays light chords on crowd pleasers such as “Juicy Juicy Green Grass”. We experienced his unique children’s songs and stories well known to the audience. Cheers rose at the beginning of every song.

Peter’s primary school teaching background is obvious. He kept a large theatre of young and older children occupied. The dance movements and colourful costumes of the Theatre Bugs ensemble, entranced and captured the young audience.

In the second half of the sixty minute show, Peter invites families to enjoy themselves. We were encouraged to dance along in front of our seats or join the six Theatre Bugs dotted about the theatre isles.

He manages to address all ages of children from around two years of age up to at least ten. He invites a nine year old volunteer from the audience to the stage. A girl partakes in a game and song with a balloon. He uses his specialist music teacher skills and puts her at ease.

The little girl is asked to act out parts of his song with a balloon he blows up for her. She is then instructed to jaunt about the stage as he sings. A Theatre Bug and Cunneen on piano are part of the improvised act. He excites and captures the hearts of all when the balloon is unexpectedly popped. My seven year old niece, who had accompanied me to the performance, gasped at the perfectly timed “pop” of the balloon and admired the brave actions of her peer. The girl is rewarded for her efforts with a large red balloon to take home.

I can see why Peter Coombe is an Aria award winning artist. He has a large repertoire of children’s songs colloquial to Australia. Especially the crowd favourite “Wash Your Face in Orange Juice”. Peter kept many young minds busy. He facilitated audience hand clapping, vocal chants of “Oh Yuck” and animated gestures.

Peter touched on the classic fairytale of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. A Theatre Bug may have swayed a would be ballerina in the audience with her “on point” ballet sequences. Many children witnessed the delights of dance not often seen in the likes of the usual animated children’s movies. This three dimensional performance silenced small voices temporarily and little young eyes gawked at her well executed ballet positions.

Phil Cunneen, a great supporting performer. He looked part of the group in his brightly coloured outfit. His percussion tinkles on the ivories add to Combes lyrics and the Theatre Bugs movements. He adds comic relief and banter by making naughty noises while Peter tells a story. This kept busy young bodies happy, laughing and interested.

The Theatre Bugs infectious enthusiasm enthralled the smiling cherub faces of the audience. The appropriately choreographed dance complimented Combe’s jovial lyrics.

If this show exceeded the hour, laughter may have turned into tears of boredom or frustration. A seven year old has informed me; the show though good would be better appreciated by toddlers and pre-school children.

Peter Combe washes your kids in a bright and colourful time. This show is a refreshing change from the dark surroundings of cinema screenings in school holidays. His songs and the traditional concept of audience participation, is a light hour of fun and song.

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