Children’s Summer theatre in London

Bugsy Malone

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.

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone is at the Lyric Hammersmith

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.

AIW 3 cards

Alice is the sort of show that’s perfect for the the atmospheric Vaults

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.


Neil Bartram and Brian Hill’s classic comes to Greenwich

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.

Following the very popular Grandpa’s Railway, M6 return with their much loved show One Little Word, which played at the Unicorn in 2011.
Two characters play together, exploring new space, new objects, dressing up and taking turns. But there’s a bit of a struggle when one of them wants to be the ONLY captain of the ship.
Sound familiar?
Disclosure: we were offered press tickets to some, but not all, of these performances. All views expressed are my own.


  • Laura
    April 21, 2015 at 8:59 am

    So many great performances! I want to visit the theatre very soon.

  • lisa prince
    April 21, 2015 at 10:42 am

    i would love for my children to do something lke this but it seems to cost a fortune and not bee so close to home

  • Rachael Simmons
    April 21, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I have BIG theatre plans this summer! I’ve taken up the challenge “30 Plays, 30 Weeks, before I’m 30” for the charity Operation Smile which provides free cleft lip/palate surgery to children across the world 🙂

  • Erica Price
    April 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    What a great selection of shows to see – it’s been too long since we last went to the theatre.

  • Jaime Oliver
    April 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Sounds like some fantastic performances .. i must check out what is local to us, Joshua loves the theatre

  • Abi - Angel Eden Blog
    April 21, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    We really want to pop along to the Alice in Wonderland show but they all look fabulous

  • Jen aka Muminthemadhouse
    April 21, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    We love attending the theatre ot musicals when we are in London. The boys love the, The last we saw was Matilda and it was amazing.

  • Michelle
    April 21, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Bugsy Malone is one of my favourites! I remember seeing it in the theatre when I was a kid and loved it as much as the film x

  • Minniebeth
    April 21, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    No plans yet – looking for inspiration 🙂 x

    April 21, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    wow this looks amazing, a great show to see, good luck every one 🙂

  • Kelly Koya
    April 22, 2015 at 6:32 am

    not yet, but will be keeping an eye out for kids week.

  • leanne weir
    April 22, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Bugsy Malone is my favourite!

  • nadine
    April 22, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I love Bugsy Malone would love to take my children

  • Lucy Dorrington
    April 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I am a huge fan of taking children to the theatre. I just wish we lived nearer to London, so we could check these out!

  • Rachel
    April 22, 2015 at 11:56 am

    So many performances with so many classics shows x

  • Emma Green
    April 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Going to see The Twits this summer

  • emma falvi
    April 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    no yet, but will be looking over the next couple off weeks to see what is on

  • Elaine Trimmings
    April 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    I love going to the Theatre – on my wish list is Matilda and charlie and the chocolate factory with my 6 year old daughter – but Bugsy looks great too, List getting bigger!

  • Sam McKean
    April 22, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Not yet but would love to see this and Matilda and Charlie & Choc factory, will need to start saving if I don’t win!

  • anita casu
    April 22, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Lots of exciting things but most excited about The Twits at the royal court!

  • lyn
    April 22, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Yes we do lots of Theatre and willing to see most things.. Enjoy the big musicals and smaller plays. Seeing bad jews next week but also would like to see Gypsy, Book of Morman and bend it like Beckham this year.. actually too many I want to see

  • Lucy Robinson
    April 22, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    We are going to see The Twits and The Octonauts. x

  • Nayna Kanabar
    April 22, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    what a lovely set of performances, they a;;sound great.

  • Sarah Bailey
    April 22, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    What some great sounding shows – I adore the theatre and have from a young age. x

  • Emma Wolski
    April 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Not yet but I would like to book something!

  • David Mitchell
    April 23, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Yes I haven’t seen many musicals lately and I really want to catch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this summer!

  • Michelle
    April 23, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Wow there’s so much to see! I’d love to take my boy to the theatre 🙂 xx

  • Alison Lucas
    April 23, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I have lots of theatre plans this summer – both in London, locally in Southend (Annie starring Craig Revel Horwood and Hetty Feather!) and also some Shakespeare and ballet streamed through the Odeon.

  • Cheryl Kean
    April 23, 2015 at 9:46 am

    just back from seeing Shrek in Birmingham with my daughter, Off to see Billy Elliott in London with my mum in July and just booked to see Annie in Birmingham for me hubby daughter and grandaughter x

  • georgie pope
    April 23, 2015 at 10:06 am

    far, far too many. i’ve bankrupted myself! looking forward to rory kinnear at the young vic most

  • Globalmouse
    April 23, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    What a brilliant round up – we would love to see Bugsy Malone!

  • oana79
    April 23, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Oh, Nell, you are very lucky to be living so near to so many theaters! Julia Donaldson’s book and play inspired by it sound very interesting, I will look up for the book for Emma, thank you.xx

    • Nell
      April 24, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Hi Oana, yes, I think the book would be perfect for Emma. It conveys loss in a very gentle, beautiful way.

  • Kimberley Howes
    April 23, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I saw Charlie and the chocolate factory over Easter but would love to see Bugsy Malone, would be such a lovely night out.

  • Debi Gillard
    April 24, 2015 at 7:37 am

    A very long list of things I want to see but the only thing actually booked is Carmen (which is not strictly theatre to me!)

  • trevor linvell
    April 24, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    No plans yet, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the lion king

  • Lou gourley
    April 24, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I have finally booked up to see Les Mis-for some reason I’ve seen every big show other than this one. I cannot wait

  • Daniel Stacey
    April 24, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Not at the moment

  • Ickle Pickle
    April 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    How fab! I am too young to go to the theatre yet – Mummy is going to see The Bodyguard in June on Cardiff x

  • Steven K
    April 24, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Planning to take the family to see Peter Pan at the Regent’s Park open air theatre.

  • Veronica Lopez-Smith
    April 24, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I want to take the kids to see Matilda and Adventures in Wonderland.

  • Jan Roberts
    April 24, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Unicorn Theatre always comes up trumps when kids theatre trips are needed. I, however, am off to see the delicious Bradley Cooper in Elephant Man in June, without kids . . . or hubbie.

  • Beth
    April 24, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    I want to see Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate factory

  • Lydia Houghton
    April 25, 2015 at 12:12 am

    My family are growing up so fast. I plan to spend as much quality time with them as I can this summer. I’ve booked an overnight stay at a theme park and I plan on lots of days out and booking to see a few shows.

  • Annamarie Riddiford
    April 25, 2015 at 6:43 am

    We love opera and are going to see La Boheme this year which we are really looking forward to.

  • Kay Broomfield
    April 25, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    We definitely want to take a West End show in this Summer but we’re undecided as to which one.

  • Clare Nicholas
    April 27, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    We love the theatre, I’m desperate to take the kids to a London show

  • Lauren
    April 28, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I love the sound of Gorilla! So exciting that the kids are finally old enough now to sit still through a theatre production 🙂

  • Emma | TheMiniMesAndMe
    April 29, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    The last time we went to the theatre was December 2013 to see Peter Pan – we really need to go again, these sound fab x


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