We’ve been told we’re at the beginning of a long-awaited heatwave. And London’s children’s listings are also hotting up, with shows opening their doors for the late Spring/Summer runs. Here are a few of our top Summer theatre picks.
Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
11 April-1 August. For children aged 7 and over.
Alan Parker’s world famous musical Bugsy Malone is coming to a re-opened Lyric, following a multi-million pound redevelopment. Olivier award-winning director, Sean Holmes, will bring to life the first professional production in over a decade with a cast of young talent. My son Austin watched the film (starring a young Jodie Foster) the other day, and he’s so excited about this show, we can barely stop him from whipping out the custard pies first thing in the morning.
The Paper Dolls at the Little Angel, Islington
18 April-28 June. For children aged 3-7.
The Paper Dolls, by Julia Donaldson, is one of my daughter’s favourite books; it made my cry the first time I read it to her. So we were both dancing around when we heard this performance was being staged at Islington’s renowned puppet theatre. A little girl cuts out paper dolls – Ticky, Tacky, Jackie the Backie, Jim with two noses and Jo with the bow – who fly through time and face perils together. It’s a gentle, poignant tale, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it translates to the stage (I will have my handkerchief at the ready….).
Adventures in Wonderland, The Vaults
11 April-31 August. For children aged over 5.
The Vaults under London’s Waterloo Station will be home to Les Petits’ interactive performance for the over 5s, Adventures in Wonderland. Three years in the making, this show features a collection of fantastical puppets and the chance to interact with Wonderland characters. We’re told that ‘each child’s journey through Wonderland will be unique, but all will be invited to the largest, maddest tea party around and the chance to play croquet with Alice herself’. It sounds devilishly cool (and there’s an adult version showing in the evenings, which I’m very tempted by….)
The Adventures of Pinocchio at Greenwich Theatre
5-23 August. For children aged 5 and over.
This new rendition of Carlo Collodi’s musical, by Bartram and Hill, was first performed at Chicago’s Shakespeare Festival. This show at Greenwich is its UK premiere. Although I nver saw the original musical production, the Disney film was the first I ever remember seeing at the cinema. It’s a heart-warming tale of a wooden boy who leaves his creator and father Geppetto in search of adventure. I suspect it will be a hit with the younger generation in our family, as well as us olds.
Gorilla at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon
17 July-16 August. For children aged 4-7.
Polka’s sell-out staging of Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne’s Gorilla returns this summer. Hannah loves gorillas, but she’s never seen a real one. It’s the night before her birthday and something amazing is about to happen…Hannah’s toy gorilla is brought to life with puppetry and music. The Polka routinely puts out high-quality shows, and this one is likely not to disappoint.
Against Captain’s Orders at Greenwich Maritime Museum
28 March-31 August. For children aged 6-12.
Another hot ticket for the summer is Punchdrunk Enrichment’s Against Captain’s Orders, at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. This is a nautical quest for 6-12 year olds, by the ground-breaking team behind The House Where Winter Lives and adult show The Drowned Man. It combines performance, interaction and learning, and is likely to appeal to young wannabe seafarers who love a bit of adventure.
One Little Word at the Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge
6-21 June. For children aged 3 and over.