25 shows to keep your family happy during the summer holidays
Ben Hewis suggests the best shows to take your kids to during the summer holidays
It's that time of year again, the kids are off school and you're already running out of ideas for what to do with them. Well fear no more, below we have picked 25 shows that are perfect for the younger generation of theatregoers.
1. Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre
Roald Dahl's much-loved story bursts into life on stage in this musical version by Dennis Kelly and award-winning musician and comedian Tim Minchin. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination. Suitable for ages 6 .
2. Hetty Feather at the Vaudeville Theatre
From best-selling author Jacqueline Wilson, the tale of plucky Hetty Feather is brought thrillingly to life on stage by award winning script writer Emma Reeves and the Olivier Award nominated director Sally Cookson, whose many five star productions include Peter Pan, We're Going on a Bearhunt and Stick Man. With live music, circus skills and a huge heart, Hetty Feather is a terrific adventure story suitable for ages 7
3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre
The National Theatre's award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has re-opened at its new home, the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. Winner of 7 Olivier Awards including ‘Best New Play', The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brings Mark Haddon's best-selling novel to thrilling life on stage, adapted by two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens and directed by Olivier and Tony Award-winning director Marianne Elliott. Suitable for 11+
4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Roald Dahl's deliciously dark tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Willy Wonka comes to life in this West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes. Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig, set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot The Musical; Matilda The Musical).
5. Horrible Histories - Barmy Britain: Part Two at the Garrick Theatre
Can you beat battling Boudicca? Has William Wallace met his match? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England? Will King Charles keep his head? Would you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin? Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria! After the sell-out success of Barmy Britain comes the return of BARMY BRITAIN – PART TWO for a special summer season!
6. I Believe in Unicorns at the Vaudeville Theatre
''Olivier Award nominated Wizard Presents brings best-selling children's author Michael Morpurgo's treasured story to life. This intimate show is set in a library full of books that hold more than stories within their pages. It is a tale of the power of books, and the bravery of a young boy called Tomas. Tomas loves playing in the mountains where he lives and hates reading and school, but his world is turned upside down the day he meets the Unicorn Lady (Danyah Miller) in his local library...
7. The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Lyric Theatre
Based on the picture book written and illustrated by Judith Kerr and adapted for the stage with songs and lyrics by David Wood, for the first time ever, this much loved tale of a tiger creating tea time mayhem is brought vividly to life on stage in a show packed with oodles of magic, sing a long songs and clumsy chaos. For children aged 3 and above.
8. The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre
Disney's award-winning musical is now in its 15th year at London's Lyceum Theatre. Julie Taymor's reimagining of Disney's beloved animated film is a theatrical event you will never forget. This acclaimed production has been seen by over 70 million people around the world, and in addition to the two UK productions can currently be seen in New York, Tokyo, Hamburg, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Sydney and on tour across North America and Japan.
9. Wind in the Willows at the Vaudeville Theatre
Will Tuckett brings The Wind in the Willows to life through action, dance, song, music and puppetry. This colourful and witty re-creation of the story was originally commissioned by the Royal Opera House and enjoyed four highly successful runs in the Linbury Studio Theatre. This show doesn't open until November, but you can still get excited about it over the summer!
10 Micro Shakespeare at the Unicorn Theatre
¡Hola Hamlet! Spanish anarchy meets the Bard. As you manipulate the objects, you won't have a clue what you're doing or the story that you're telling, but your audience of two will have a great time listening on their own headphones to a warped Spanish version of a Shakespearean classic. La La La Tempesta! (runs 120 mins, each visit takes 7 mins)
11. War Horse at the New London Theatre
The National Theatre's epic production of War Horse is based on the celebrated novel by the Children's Laureate (2003-05) Michael Morpurgo. Actors, working with magnificent, life-sized puppets by the internationally renowned Handspring Puppet Company, lead us on a gripping journey through history.
12. Moominsummer Madness at the Polka Theatre
When a huge flood sweeps through Moominvalley, the Moomins find an exciting new home… a floating theatre! But why is there a door in the floor? Why does the scenery start changing? And where do Moomintroll, Little My and Snork Maiden disappear to? Tove Jansson's adorable Moomin characters have charmed children for generations. Now, one of her most popular stories jumps from page to stage for the perfect summer family treat. Moominsummer Madness is part of Tove100, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson. Age recommendation: 4 - 8 years
13. Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of Yorks Theatre
Join James Lance as the effervescent, aristocratic fool Bertie Wooster and John Gordon Sinclair as his dutiful valet, Jeeves with Robert Goodale as Seppings in the critically acclaimed stage play Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense. When a country house weekend takes a turn for the worse, Bertie Wooster is unwittingly called on to play matchmaker, but also to steal a silver cow creamer from Totleigh Towers. Naturally, the ever dependable Jeeves is there to prevent Bertie from making a fool of himself in front of a cast of Wodehouse's finest characters.''
14. Skitterbang Island at the Polka Theatre
Storm! Shipwreck! Adventure! Lost on an island in the very north of the world, a brave little girl meets a shy, curious creature... Not only does he look very odd, he sounds different too! Meet the Skitterbang. In his cave full of old metal and junk washed up from the sea, he shows her his newest treasure which sounds so beautiful. But who does it really belong to? Skitterbang Island is an exciting tale of discovery and friendship as you journey to a magical world of music, song, rhythm and harmony.
15. Crazy in Love! at the Unicorn Theatre
An acrobatic comedy about the highs and lows of falling in and out of love. Four mismatched lovers dream they're trapped inside a fantastical circus and despite all their squabbling and tussling, the show must go on! Inspired by the lovers from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a completely happy ending is not necessarily guaranteed... (runs 25 mins).
16. Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre
When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch, we only ever heard one side of the story. Wicked re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum, and tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two girls who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba.
17. Aliens Love Underpants at Leicester Square Theatre
Big Wooden Horse and Nick Brooke Ltd proudly present the world premiere of Aliens Love Underpants, based on the book by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort, adapted & directed by Adam Bampton-Smith. This zany and hilarious tale based on the best-selling children's book is delightfully brought to life on stage for the very first time. With stunning effects, madcap action, original music (and lots of aliens of course!) this fantastically fresh and funny production will delight the whole family. Suitable for families with children 3 and up.
18. The National Theatre's The Elephantom at New London Theatre
''Fresh from an acclaimed sold-out season at the National Theatre, Ross Collins' much-loved The Elephantom is magical entertainment for young and old, a wonderfully inventive mix of puppetry, movement, dance, music – and theatrical ingenuity. This adaptation of Collins' picture book about the little girl who is unexpectedly visited by a big blue elephant, is the perfect summer treat for all the family. Suitable for children 3
19. Billy Elliot - The Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre
Billy Elliot has been dazzling London's West End since 2005. Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/'85 miners' strike, Billy Elliot is the inspirational story of a young boy's struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. With unforgettable music by Elton John, sensational dance and a powerful storyline, this astonishing theatrical experience will stay with you forever. Age Recommendation: 8 years and above, contains some strong language.
20. London Bridges at Chickenshed
Story-collector Jackto Factotum lives on one of London's many bridges and is on a quest to collect the magical stories brought to his city from around the world. Told through puppetry, rhyme, larger-than-life characters, song and dance, Jackto's stories enchant all who hear them... For 3-7 year olds.
21. Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre
Based on the novel by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo with music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Set in early 19th-century France, it is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his starving sister's child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him by a tremendous act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.
22. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Holland Park
Opera Holland Park presents its latest commission – a new family opera based on Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. Composed by Will Todd, and featuring a live orchestra and a full cast of well-loved characters from the book, the production takes place in the magical surroundings of Holland Park's gardens.
23. What the Ladybird Heard at Cadogan Hall
Two crafty robbers, one tiny ladybird, and a whole farmyard of fun! Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len have a cunning plan to steal the farmer's fine prize cow. But they reckon without the tiniest, quietest creature of all: The Ladybird has a plan of her own! Join the woolly sheep, the hairy hog, the fat red hen and the dainty dog in this brand new stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks' colourful farmyard adventure. With live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and lots of laughs!
24. Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre
Set on a sunny Greek island paradise, Mamma Mia! tells the tale of a daughter named Sophie who discovers that her father could be one of three men from her mother's past relationships. Sophie invites the 3 men to her wedding. Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA's greatest hits, this sunny, funny tale is the perfect night out. No matter how old you are, Mamma Mia will be an unforgettable experience and taking those you love to the performance will be a memory to last a lifetime.
25. Peppa Pig's Big Splash at the Criterion Theatre
Come and join Peppa and her friends for another all-singing, all-dancing adventure full of songs, games and muddy puddles! The nursery roof is leaking and Peppa and her friends need to fix it - quick! Peppa Pig returns live on stage with super cute puppets and brilliant sing-a-long songs in this brand new show that will brighten your day. So grab your wellies and brollies and get splashing!