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West End stars help launch 15th year of Kids Week

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Kids Week kicked off its 15th anniversary yesterday (11 June 2012) with a special show at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The Society of London Theatre, which offers children free tickets to popular productions through the initiative, invited more than 1,000 school pupils to watch a lunchtime performance led by a variety of West End stars.

Presenter Richard Blackwood (Donkey from Shrek) hosted proceedings and was greeted with raucous laughter from the young audience, who were also treated to a series of musical acts. The cast of Shrek the Musical - which is currently playing at the Theatre Royal - opened the show, followed by sing and dance-alongs led by performers such as Bonnie Langford (Spamalot), Dominic Ferris (West End Experience) and the cast of Thriller Live.

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com after the show, Blackwood commended the efforts of Kids Week to get young people  into the theatre. "Kids need to get out" he said, "In today’s society everything is at the touch of a finger tip, and that allows you the comfort of not even leaving your house for entertainment. As opposed to just sitting in your chair, going to the theatre gives you great things to remember - it’s an event."

Carly Stenson, who has recently taken over from Kimberley Walsh as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, spoke about the positive effect of theatre: “Bringing children to the theatre not only inspires them, but it also inspires a new generation of theatre-goers. It’s so wonderful to see a change in children, and I think theatre brings out their confidence.”

Meanwhile, 12 year-old Lorenzo Dizel-Cubuca, currently starring as a young Michael Jackson in Thriller Live, admitted that his friends "don’t go to the theatre,” but that he thinks they should definitely “go and see Shrek, Lion King and Thriller – shows that everyone can see.” He continued, “It’s a good thing for kids to go to the theatre, they can get inspired by the people they see on stage.”

This year, Kids Week presents a record line-up of 38 shows offering free and discounted tickets to families from 1 to 31 August 2012. Extended to a month for the first time ever, Kids Week is part of the London 2012 Festival, the nationwide celebration honouring the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Kids Week also includes many other free theatre-related events and activities. For more information visit the website.

- by Julianna Fazio & Stephanie Soh


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