The first clue was the conductor Jon Tooby who arrived onstage wearing striped socks.
“He’s wearing Lah-Lah’s socks” cried one young observer, with the keen eyes of a fan.
Tooby and the WA Symphony Orchestra bubbled through an energetic overture (from Mozart’s The Abduction of Seraglio) and then the stars arrived: Lah-Lah and Buzz, the popular entertainers from ABC Kids. Lola (for the uninitiated or those aged over seven Lola is Buzz’s double bass) was nervous but she soon relaxed once the orchestra struck up the Lah-Lah’s Big Live Band theme song.
Lah-Lah (the bright vocals of Tina Harris) and Buzz (Mark Harris on double bass) are characters from ABC’s live action and animation pre-school show which aims to give children a fun introduction to music and musical instruments. The well-seasoned performers bounced around the stage in their cartoon-style costumes getting children up and dancing in what was a noisy hour of entertainment.
Their pop/jazz inflected songs included Brush Your Teeth (the brass section had forgotten to), Shake it Like This, Dancing Doll and (my favourite – perhaps because it wasn’t so noisy!) an atmospheric orchestral arrangement of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Along the way we were introduced to the different sections of the orchestra with the rare opportunity to hear each instrument perform a solo. The small people in my entourage liked the violin (Let it Go from Frozen) and the cello (Star Wars theme song). I’m not normally a flute fan but Andrew Nicholson’s haunting flute version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow was a welcome mellow moment before Lah-Lah and Buzz wound up the pace for the Big Live Band finale complete with giant bouncing balloons.
Lah-Lah and Buzz provided high energy entertainment and it was thrilling to see them live on stage but they didn’t draw us in for the journey. Earlier in the year Paul Rissmann’s irresistible musical adventures based on the story of Stan and Mabel and Leo the Lion made a deeper connection. The musical arrangements were more interesting, the stories engrossing for kids of all ages and there was a range of emotional highs and lows along the way. Rissmann didn’t use giant balloons bouncing around the concert hall for a grand finale because he didn’t need to; the music worked its own magic.