Imagine Children's Festival
Southbank Centre, 7 to 18 February
The Southbank Centre's brilliant week-long festival for children over half term includes a whole range of events, from opera, to classical music, to poetry to dance. And of course there are some lovely chances to see excellent theatre too. Me and My Bee, a piece from ThisEgg, is for everyone aged 5 and up and focuses on the disappearance of bees and our changing ecosystem. It's an upbeat, fun show which asks audiences to join a political party, running from 10 to 12 February and then touring the UK. The festival also features lots of stories and workshops such as Chinese New Year stories with Christopher Corr (16 February) and Tiny Owl Tales by Rumi (14 February).
The Snow Beast
Barbican Theatre, Devon, 14 to 17 February
Young Devon-based theatre company Scratchworks stage The Snow Beast about Christmas in the snowy Scandinavian town of Seldomberg where the Great Annual Science Fair takes place. Faina heads off to search for the Snow Beast, but does it really exist? Find out in this madcap experience, which is made for kids aged 7 and over. After a run in Devon, it will arrive at Greenwich Theatre in March.
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass
Touring the UK from 10 February to 15 April
Oliver Lansley and the team behind Les Enfants Terribles have hit on a winning formula with their shows for young people, made by their kids company offshoot Les Petits. This show is the sequel to their hit makeshift piece, which follows Flinn and his friends as they sail the high seas looking for adventure. And dinosaurs. The puppets are brilliant and the slapdash fun with which the play is created is a ball. For everyone aged 3 and up.
School of Rock
New London Theatre, currently booking until January 2019
It's the perfect time to revisit Andrew Lloyd Webber, Glenn Slater and Julian Fellowes' rock musical as a whole band of new kids and cast has taken over. Now Stephen Leask stars as aged rocker and drop out Dewey Finn, while Florence Andrews, Alan Pearson and Michelle Francis also make up the cast. The musical is a raucous, fun stage adaptation of the hit film starring Jack Black and is one which the entire family can enjoy.
Unicorn Theatre, 3 February to 3 March
The Unicorn Theatre is a dab hand at making excellent shows for young people and this new production of Shakespeare's tricky play sounds like it's no exception to that rule. Ignace Cornelissen distills the play and has an all-black cast perform the piece. Cornelissen's previous hits for children include Henry the Fifth and A Winter's Tale which also played at the Unicorn. If you're looking for a way of getting the clan into the Bard, this might be the perfect moment.
Piccadilly Theatre, until 18 February
Last call for Easy Street! The West End production of Annie will wrap up its run at the Piccadilly Theatre on 18 February, before it hops over to Toronto for a five-week run at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. With classic tunes including "It's the Hard Knock Life" and "Tomorrow", this is the sort of rib-tickler that's sure to keep the kids content over the half term week. Acting legend Meera Syal has also taken on the role of the malevolent Miss Hannigan, in case you needed any more reasons to book.
The Jungle Book
Liverpool Playhouse, 13 to 17 February
Jessica Swale's new adaptation of the Kipling classic looks like a visual feast of jungle equipment and innovative costume design, bringing the various citizens of feral child Mowgli's world to life. With the likes of Balloo, Bagheera and Shere Khan all making appearances, the production will satisfy the theatre needs of kids as well as nostalgic parents. The piece is directed by Max Webster, whose production of The Lorax astounded at the Old Vic last year.
The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales)
Touring the UK until 21 April
Emma Rice's adaptation of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen was considered an out-and-out triumph when it opened at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in December 2016, charming audiences with its innovative storytelling and the ability to "move you from belly laughs to tissue-grabbing in the space of a scene". It is also written by the award-winning Joel Horwood, who built up a strong following after his work on Skins.
UK tour until December 2018, and Apollo Victoria
It may have been announced over a year ago, but the second UK tour of the musical sensation has finally taken flight and you'd definitely be a 'popular' one with the kids if you've bagged tickets this half term. The magic world of Oz is under threat, and only the most infamous Wicked Witch can do something about it. With a touring cast including Aaron Sidwell, Amy Ross and Helen Woolf (and a West End run still continuing), seeing green has never been so easy.
UK tour until 24 November 2018
David Walliams is the most lucrative man in children's theatre at the moment, with his Gangsta Granny being a treat for young audiences when it was first adapted for the stage in 2015, and then having a blast in the West End last summer. Awful Auntie seeks to carry on that success with its first UK tour, which opened at Richmond Theatre in November 2017. Pitting the young Stella against her terrifying relative Aunt Alberta, expect a rollercoaster ride with spades of humour to boot.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Unicorn Theatre
- Greenwich Theatre
- Southbank Centre
- Children's theatre
- kids theatre
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