With the summer holidays on the horizon, anxious parents everywhere are looking for ways to keep their children entertained throughout the extended break. London's West End is famous for housing some of the most popular plays and musicals, but did you know that it is also home to some of the best children's shows in the country, offering a wide selection of productions that appeal to children of all ages?
Live theatre is the perfect accompaniment to a long summer holiday, and 2015 promises to be the most entertaining yet! Many West End theatres have brought in an exciting collection of new and popular children's shows, with performances during the day to suit the schedules of those enjoying time off school. From brand new musicals to adaptations of popular books and educational shows, there has never been a more varied mix of entertainment for younger audiences and their families in the heart of London's Theatreland.
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Three – Garrick Theatre from 25 July 2015
Suitable for: Ages 6 +
The popular Horrible Histories franchise returns to the stage in a brand new live production at the Garrick Theatre this summer. Following the success of Parts One and Two, this all new show from the pens of Terry Deary and Neal Foster features the barmiest bits of British history, and will include a new sketch featuring King John to celebrate the 800th year of the signing of the Magna Carta.
The show is suitable for children aged six and up, and will entertain those who are familiar with the series of books and the hilarious TV programme. Described as 'history with the nasty bits left in', each show is an entertaining performance from a talented ensemble of actors who bring to life some of the most recognisable faces in British history. Jam packed full of song, dance and audience interaction, this show is both entertaining and educational and is the perfect summer treat for those children who prove to be hard to entertain!
The Gruffalo – Lyric Theatre from 1 July 2015
Suitable for: Ages 3+
Younger audiences will be transfixed by this hugely successful stage adaptation of 'The Gruffalo' which has become a must see for fans of the popular picture book and families looking for a memorable day out. Mixing music, laughter, physical theatre and just the right touch of scary fun, this is the perfect introduction to live theatre for smaller children.
The show follows Mouse on a darling adventure through the deep dark wood as she searches for hazelnuts. On her journey she encounters a cunning fox, a wise owl and a party mad snake – but she is able to outwit them by sharing the tale of the mysterious Gruffalo...
The production, which has been enjoyed by audiences all over the UK, is one of the West End's most popular children's shows due to its memorable story and accessible performance which allows young audiences to feel involved with the performance. Why not even come dressed up as your favourite character from the book for a truly memorable experience!
Hetty Feather – Duke of York's Theatre from 6 August 2015
Suitable for: Ages 7+
The Olivier nominated adaptation of 'Hetty Feather', based on the best-selling book by children's author Jacqueline Wilson returns to the West End following a triumphant UK tour and previous West End run. Suitable for children over the age of seven, this is a perfect summer treat for fans of the book and Jacqueline Wilson's work.
The show tells the story of the plucky Hetty Feather as she escapes from the Foundling Hospital for orphans and joins the travelling circus. The production features a talented ensemble of actors, musicians and circus acts, creating a highly visual spectacle that will be sure to inspire young audiences and introduce them to the magic of live theatre.
Slightly older children will appreciate the humour of this adaptation and will feel like they're experiencing a very special West End production. The truly original story combined with the innovative staging result in a show that is bound to get your young ones inspired.
The Three Little Pigs – Palace Theatre from 5 August 2015
Suitable for: Ages 3+
Award winning British composers George Stiles and Anthony Drewe are no strangers to writing musicals for young people. Their previous shows include the international hit 'Mary Poppins' and the Olivier Award-winning musical 'Honk!' which have delighted family audiences all over the world.
This summer they are bringing their brand new musical, 'The Three Little Pigs' to the West End in a spectacular new production which features a star-studded cast of famous faces. Pop Idol winner Gareth Gates stars alongside 'Blue' singer Simon Webbe and West End favourites Alison Jiear and Leanne Jones to tell the famous tale, with a little touch of added magic.
Expect catchy songs, high energy performances and jokes for all the family – this endearing musical will have you squealing with laughter. Don't miss the West End première of this brand new musical by two of the UK's most popular and successful writers.
I Believe in Unicorns – Vaudeville Theatre from 1st August 2015
Suitable for: Ages 6+
Michael Morpurgo's magical and captivating tale returns to the stage for a limited run at the West End's intimate Vaudeville Theatre following a recent UK tour. Set amongst a library full of books, this one woman show has been described as a 'tour de force', and sees the stories that come from the pages being brought to life in a spectacularly engaging and original way. The production, which has been seen by over 20,000 people in the past year, is aimed at children over the age of five and is a perfect introduction to live theatre for young people and their families.
This highly engaging show asks the audience to use their imagination in order to tell the story of Tomas, the reluctant reader who has his life transformed as he meets the Unicorn and the Unicorn Lady. Through the power of storytelling, Tomas discovers the power of reading and is inspired to be a creative thinker. This is an original and very different production that is sure to appeal to creative young people and their families.
With such a diverse range of children's theatre on offer this summer in London's West End, make sure you don't miss your chance to keep your young ones engaged in a highly creative and memorable way.