It’s Christmas 2019, and the end of the year. It’s the family holidays, and this must mean that shows for children are back!
This year I decided to go and see a range of them, in order to see what kind of shows are out there, how they appeal to a young audience, and how the writing and performance reaches adults who see the productions. I wanted to see shows which have come into the West End as well as those on the Fringe.
Follow the links below for my reviews, and to book your own seats for these marvellous family shows.
#1 Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers, Battersea Arts Centre
The Sleeping Trees have put together a fun and frantic mashup of pantomime and fairy tale which may appeal to the slightly older child as well as the pre-schooler. With humour, good characterisation, and a sprinkle of magic, this story made me laugh throughout and the children around me seemed to feel included in all the twists and turns of the plot.
#2 Oi Frog and Friends, Lyric Theatre
Based on the series of books for tots, this show is both educational and extremely funny, with excellent puppet work, catchy songs, and a lot of invention. With a lot of wordplay and opportunities for audience participation, this is sure to be a hit with your little ones.
#3 The Cat in the Hat, Turbine Theatre
The first Christmas show at the Turbine in Nine Elms, this show lacks songs but has a likeable central performance and works well for very small children, who will enjoy the ball games and the cheeky subversiveness of the visiting feline.
#4 The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Judith Kerr’s classic book returns to the stage in the much-loved adaptation which I found delightful, catchy and very funny – and the children in the audience definitely appeared to agree.
#5 Black Beauty, Purcell Room
The McCuddy brothers are on lean times with their pantomime horse act, and the classic Anna Sewell book gives them a chance for some storytelling, some dancing, and a lot of “horseplay”. Good for slightly older children, with some excellent bits and pieces which will appeal to adults, too.
#6 The Snow Queen, Park Theatre
A magical story with a lovely set and an interesting modern twist on the Andersen fairy tale. Perhaps best appreciated by slightly older children, this definitely has the magic of winter about it, and deftly navigates a complicated plot about Gerda growing up.
#7 Robin Hood, Questors Theatre
The traditional Questors pantomime has become a firm fixture in my Christmas schedule, and this year is no exception. Expect songs, jokes, special effects, and the traditional Dame and Principal Boy, this time putting the character of Nottingham’s finest, Robin Hood, into the panto setting.
#8 The Snowman, Peacock Theatre
This festive perennial returns to the Peacock – I’ll be seeing this on New Year’s Day.
#9 The Little Prince, The Place
Luca Silvestrini’s Protein have created an engrossing piece of dance theatre which has movement, paper planes, video work, and a fine connection with its young audience. I saw this on Christmas Eve morning – its last day of performance in London, and I loved it: it has heart and soul and really engages with young audiences.
#10 Matilda, Cambridge Theatre
Tim Minchin’s long-running musical, based on the novel by Roald Dahl, continues to entrance young audiences at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End.