More than 1500 primary-aged children filled the Guildhall in Portsmouth on Monday 30 January, and they didn't come alone; the children brought with them every possible size, shape and colour of monkey.
The children and their cuddly toys were there to watch the Chimpanzees of Happy Town, a children's story performed on stage by the nationally acclaimed company Music in the Round. The company, which tours throughout the country, brought together performers and musicians from Ensemble 360. The company aims to engage young audiences and embed music in children's everyday learning.
The Chimpanzees of Happy Town was written by Giles Andreae, and Music in the Round put the children's publication to music in 2011. It tells the story of life in Drabsville, where the Mayor demands that all the houses must look the same and that none of the chimpanzees are permitted to have any fun. Life looks a little brighter when Chutney the chimpanzee arrives in town. He plants a seed that grows into a tree which spreads colour and happiness to all the inhabitants, and encourages everyone to care for their environment.
In the weeks leading up to the concert the children had been learning the songs from the musical. Samuel aged 6, from College Park Infants School said: "I had a really great time. It was fun to sing all the songs and to do lots of the movements. I was really pleased that Chutney the chimp made everyone happy."
Portsmouth Music Hub, which provides creative opportunities for children in Portsmouth, brought Music in the Round to the Guildhall. Sue Beckett, CEO of the Music Hub said: "We are committed to bringing professional performers and musicians to our city so that children and young people experience a wide range of performances and creative experiences. Today has been a fantastic opportunity for hundreds of children to participate, sing, dance and learn about freedom and living life to the full."