Hazel Miller (07Aug16): It’s the morning after the night before. Dan TDM On Tour.
It is fair to say that the children found the experience magical, seeing a “hero” they have watched for hours on their tablets and ipads come to life on the stage. And why wouldn’t it be a pinnacle of excitement in their young lives? How many adults have frantically bought tickets online for concerts by bands they have worshipped in the confines of their bedrooms, or watched star struck as their favourite actors perform on stage in front of their very eyes?
I found the experience excruciating, enhanced by the member of the Weegie Vaping Team sitting in front of me who was clearly in training for Rio. The biggest load of boring drivel that I have ever had to endure in my 51 years (and I’m pretty tolerant) but my 11 year old assures me it was brilliant and the show stayed true to the gaming videos. What I would have given to be sitting through another talking dog movie rather than be subjected to that utter rubbish. But the kids loved it. Even when it seemed evident to me that Dan had lost the audience as the sound of chattering voices blissfully drowned out the inane chat on stage, they all roared with gusto in reply to any question Dan directed at them.
The writer should be commended for his ability to write a stage show that hits the bullseye in the hearts and minds of young children. It takes real skill to be (potentially) the first in the world to translate a video about someone playing a game onto the stage, and stay absolutely true to the puerile script that Dan records in shed loads. The kids loved it. I was chatting to one of the theatre staff as I waited for my son to emerge from the loo, and was saying in my finest sarcastic tone “the show is great” as a chap, who looked like a Status Quo fan resplendent with long hair and combat jacket, walked past. He gave me a knowing, happy smile and I knew in a heart beat that I had just made eye contact with Ben Woolf. Well might he smile as the cash registers rang merrily to Gravy Train. Hats off to him.
And just to ensure we could have the complete Dan TDM experience, I had also signed up for the VIP tickets, with promises of an up close and personal encounter with the Minecraft Demigod. The kids loved it. They waited patiently as they queued to get in, queued for merchandise, and queued again as they each got their 5 minutes reducing to 60 seconds as it got closer to performance time, with Dan TDM. He didn’t disappoint. All credit to this young lad who smiled at every child as if they were the first and only one to meet him. He came across as a genuinely nice bloke, despite the pressure he must have been feeling as the clocked ticked past 6.15pm, with 30 children still in the queue and his next performance due to start at 7pm across the road. It’s little wonder he is a slip of a lad, as I doubt if he barely had time to visit the toilet, never mind eat since he started early that morning.
The VIP visit could have been managed better, and didn’t descend into anarchy because the feeling of goodwill in the room was high. The kids were patient and loved it. I questioned the lovely young man with the soft voice who was in charge of proceedings and nearly gave him a motherly hug as he reflected on the injustice of it all. People weren’t following the instructions he had given which to be fair, had been drowned out by the booming voice of Dan from the tv monitor playing his videos on a loop at full volume to keep the kids entertained. Lovely young man’s system of calling up the eager hopefuls in batches of 20 (to queue again) to meet Dan was swiftly abandoned by the pushy parents in favour of a Ryanair boarding convention. The photographer also did a good job of keeping a straight face as I conducted my time and motion review and refused to reveal how many photos he had taken half way through the 90 minute slot. The tension in the room was mounting as the astute mothers quickly calculated that with an average of three minutes per child, they were clearly going to run out of time and there would be some very disappointed children. The lady in the plastic chair next to me was visibly relieved as I pointed out that her boy’s number was in fact 118 and not 811, and the production team had assured me that Dan would definitely see every child. And he did, which meant the show started a little late. I had a Eureka moment as I wondered why production companies don’t employ busy mothers rather than twenty somethings with no kids to manage these events? Everything would run like a well oiled machine, bang on time, and everyone would have the opportunity for a square meal.
Dan certainly comes across as a “nice boy”, well raised with lovely manners. The parents in the many queues told me how it was so good of him to take the time to meet his eager fan base, with the hard earned cash they had parted with completely erased from their memories. And Dan knocked his pan in yesterday. I have no doubt about that.
My prediction is that these events are the shape of things to come. The new era of children’s entertainment. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Dan was just a kid that got lucky on youtube. He has a degree in music production and there are massive corporate machines behind this phenomenon, with slick merchandising and a money making plan that would make your eyes water. The kids love it.
Hazel Miller 7th August 2016