Growing up, my mum took my brother and me to loads of kids’ stage productions. We saw lots of shows – from Singing Kettle shows to pantomimes and from obscure studio theatre productions to Starlight Express in London”s West End. We went along to kids’ theatre workshops in the school holidays and then later joined a local children’s theatre company – Forefront Children’s Theatre – where my brother was a pantomime dame three years running and my big break was being the front of Daisy the cow in Jack And The Beanstalk (I kid you not!)
So theatre was a big part of my childhood and it’s something I can’t wait to get our daughter into, as she grows. We’ve tested the waters a little, taking her to Peppa Pig Live (don’t laugh – it’s a theatre show!) and I’ve got my eye on a few other productions to take her to, over the next few years. Here are some I have earmarked…
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
Based on the classic Judith Kerr book, this live stage adaptation follows the chaos caused when Sophie and her mummy get a visit from a very unusual guest. It’s 55 minutes long, so younger kids (it’s recommended for over 3s) won’t get too fidgety. And us grown ups can reminisce about being told the story at bedtime by our parents!
The Lion King
Sticking with the large cat theme, The Lion King is meant to be AMAZING. I can’t believe that as a Disney fan, and a musical fan, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll be taking my daughter when she’s a bit older (it’s recommended for over 6s).
I don’t know anyone who’s seen this new adaptation of Matilda and not raved about it afterwards – kids, grown ups, everyone. I might not be able to wait until my daughter is old enough to see it… I might have to go without her. (Shhhh!)
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Another Roald Dahl adaptation, this musical opened last year and it looks fantastic. It’s directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, for goodness sake. I grew up loving the original movie version of the book, so this is one I definitely want to see.
Some tips from me on saving cash…
Going to the theatre doesn’t have to break the bank. There are easy ways to save pennies.
- Avoid busier times – so rather than booking for a Saturday matinee or evening, go for a Tuesday. You’ll probably find a larger range of tickets available so you can go for the cheaper seats rather than buy pricier tickets.
- Keep an eye out for ‘Kids go free’ deals – last August, under 16s got a free ticket with a full-price paying adult, at many London West End shows.
- Take snacks with you, rather than buying expensive treats at the theatre. A mini bento box of treats is fun for kids to open, or do a lucky dip where they pick a packet of crisps, a biscuit or sweets out of a black bag. If you want to be super economic, make your own snacks! This caramel popcorn recipe from food blog Tinned Tomatoes looks perfect.
- Balance the theatre trip off with something else cheap or completely free. If you’re in London, jump on a number 11 bus at Liverpool Street Station – it goes past loads of big tourist attractions like St Paul’s Cathedral, Nelson’s Column and Big Ben, without forking out for a bus tour. Alternatively, if the weather’s nice, head for a park – the Diana Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground near Kensington Palace is free, gated and loads of fun.
- If you’re worried about being nagged to buy loads while you’re out and about, make it clear that the theatre trip is a huge treat. You could agree in advance to buy one extra small treat, like an ice cream, and then expectations are set from the start.
- Instead of going to a cafe or restaurant for a meal before the performance, take a packed lunch. If you’re in a particularly creative mood, stick with the theatrical theme and create a Lion King packed lunch like this one. Simba sarnie, anyone?
This post has been sponsored by Theatre Breaks. For information on how I work with brands head to my Work With Me page.
Frog LOVES the Tiger Who Came To Tea – she would be beside herself with delight at seeing the play. That’s a massive bonus of living in London – being so close to all those brilliant theatres. We took Frog to the theatre for the first time the other week and it was a huge success. Hopefully there’ll be many more trips to come!
Yes, I think I take it for granted that we’re so close to the London theatres. I used to go to see so many shows myself, and need to get back into the habit. I loved your post on taking Frog to the theatre. She looked enthralled!
front end of the cow? luxury! I was the back end and “Daisy” had to give rides to children in the audience. One night I had three of them on my back, all at the same time and all I could hear was Richard (who, like you, was the front end) laughing his head off!
BTW although Kids Week is great because a lot more shows get involved, if you have 2 adults and 2 kids in your group, paying nothing for the kids but paying full price for the adults is the same as paying half price for the whole group… which for some shows you can do for much of the year if you go midweek… either with pre-booked tickets in meal deals or theatre and hotel packages or even just turning up at the TKTS booth in Leicester Sqaure and taking pot luck!
Also, if you are going to a musical I would REALLY recommend buying the cd first so the kids can get into the music. Charlie is a great example with some of the music being quite sophisticated… but hear it a few times and you just can’t get it out of your head… Don’t Don’t Don’t Ya Pinch Me, Charlie…. AAAAHHHHHH! It will also save a few quid if they don’t really like it!