If you can hear the distant sound of school bells ringing – and not-so-distant sound of ice cream vans selling – you’ll know that summer is well and truly now in session. And with plenty of family shows opening up for the season, there’s plenty on across London to suit all ages; here are our top picks of July’s openings.
The cast of Voices Of The Amazon (Photo: Giulietta Verdon Roe)
From 4-8 July; Sadler’s Wells
Sinead: In these balmy July climes, you may find yourself wanting (or, indeed, needing) a holiday to somewhere exotic. Step forward Voices Of The Amazon, the perfect opportunity to escape into the steamy rainforest in a spectacular amalgamation of ballet, Brazilian culture, capoeira… and narration by Jeremy Irons. You won’t have seen anything quite like it, and we can’t wait.
Rosamund Hine (Farmer) in What The Ladybird Heard (Photo: Robert Workman)
Previews from 5 July, press night 8 July; Lyric Theatre
Sinead: Old McDonald better watch out – What The Ladybird Heard is a whole farmyard of fun with woolly sheep, hairy hogs, fat red hens, dainty dogs… and one tiny ladybird taking on two crafty robbers! A hilarious musical adventure packed full of family fun, this is the perfect treat for little ones at the start of their summer holidays – don’t miss out!
Previews from 7 July, press night 13 July; Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Jim: One of the world’s greatest authors, in one of the world’s greatest cities, and in the open air – what more could you ask for? And as if the story of A Tale Of Two Cities isn’t relevant enough nowadays, it’s been adapted by Olivier Award nominee Matthew Dunster into a powerful new version. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – but everyone’s guaranteed an inspiring time at this show.
Ciaran Hinds (Nick Laine) in rehearsal for Girl From The North Country at The Old Vic (Photo: Manuel Harlan)
Previews from 8 July, press night 26 July; The Old Vic
Rachel: Two things have got me excited about Girl From The North Country. Not only is it Conor McPherson’s latest play (which he also directs), but it is brought to life by the songbook of the legendary Bob Dylan. Conor McPherson is arguably one of the greatest contemporary Irish playwrights and Bob Dylan is, well, Bob Dylan. The show follows the story of a couple running a guesthouse in 1930s Minnesota, and will be full of hope, heartbreak, and soul.
Previews from 17 July, press night 23 July; Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Rachel: The original story of Victorian London’s most famous child is reimagined for children aged six and over, and what better venue to bring the family to than Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre? Experience the magic of Dickens in the open air, make the most of the theatre’s own picnic lawn, and we bet your kids will be asking for more.
Previews from 19 July, press night 24 July; Arts Theatre
Dan: I Loved Lucy tells the deeply personal story of playwright Lee Tannen’s relationship with one of America’s greatest and fiercest talents, Lucille Ball. The pair’s friendship grew stronger as her star waned, and this show gives you an insight into her final years away from the public glare. Lucille Ball broke the mould in America and it’s about time London audiences got to know her better.
The Hunting Of The Snark at the Sherman Theatre (Photo: Mark Douet)
Previews from 26 July, press night 28 July; Vaudeville Theatre
Jim: You just know that any story based on Lewis Carroll is going to be wonderful, and the creator of Alice in Wonderland conjures up no less a majestic world here full of Jub Jub Birds, Bandersnatches and Boojums (bless me). Join a riotous ragtag bunch of bold adventurers and set sail to a side-splittingly silly and joyful soundtrack – kids (and you!) will LOVE it.
Previews from 26 July, press night 1 August; Garrick Theatre
Robin: The comic genius of David Walliams and the Birmingham Stage Company (best known for their Horrible Histories stage adaptations) explodes onto the West End stage with Gangsta Granny, innit. Fresh from a smash-hit UK tour, it’s the story of young Ben who, one particularly boring Friday night at Granny’s, discovers her secret: she’s a real-life Gangsta! With such hilarious pedigree behind it, I can’t wait to chuckle along with old and young alike – safe, fam.
Emma Hatton as Eva Perón in Evita (Photo: Pamela Raith)
Previews from 28 July, press night 2 August; Phoenix Theatre
Robin: “On This Night Of A Thousand Stars”, the West End’s welcoming back one more – Emma Hatton – and in the words of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s wildly popular musical, “She Is A Diamond”. The former Wicked superstar tackles the eponymous role of Eva Perón, an enigmatic figure who experiences a meteoric rise from rags to riches and becomes the spiritual leader of the Argentine people at a time of domestic turbulence. It’s a tear-jerker but, as Evita herself might sing, “Don’t Cry For Me, Phoenix Theatre.”
Previews from 29 July, press night 3 August; Trafalgar Studios 1
Dan: Stockard Channing in a play directed by Jamie Lloyd. Rizzo, Abbey Bartlet, Veronica Loy – name a more iconic trio of characters. The story of a liberal family matriarch, Apologia sees Stockard playing Kristin Miller. Pouring salt on some old wounds, her recently published memoir has made a family dinner very awkward.