The new year has long been a time for resolutions, which means adults will be attempting to adhere to painstaking diets and exercise regimes, and kids – their parents hope – will be vowing to eat their vegetables, tidy away their toys and take up new hobbies.
If, however, your new year’s resolution is to see as much theatre as you can with your family, that won’t be a difficult one to keep, with a vast array of entertainment on offer in Theatreland in the coming months.
Here at Official London Theatre we’re all about helping you achieve these goals, and while we can’t influence your healthy eating, workout willpower or passion for chores, we can help you choose which family productions you’re going to see in the capital this year. From Olivier Award-winning returns to classic children’s stories on stage for the first time, here’s a selection of what you and your family have to look forward to in 2015.
The first major production of this gangster musical in more than a decade, Bugsy Malone will be bringing Fat Sam’s speakeasy to the newly developed Lyric Hammersmith from 11 April to 1 August. Suitable for ages six and older, 2015 means bad guys, splurge guns, classic tunes and a cast of talented youngsters for theatregoers visiting Hammersmith.
Following the run of Complicite’s Lionboy during the festive season, the Tricycle Theatre will be opening its doors to kids once again, except this time they won’t only be watching the show, they’ll have written it too. Things Will Never Be The Same Again (And Other Stories) features 11 new tales written by pupils in years five and six from local London schools, and plays at the venue from 28 February to 1 March.
The world’s first Cinderella story from China will also hit the London stage in the coming months. The young orphaned girl renowned for her nasty stepmother and missing footwear joins forces with a fish, a dragon and a horse in Yeh Shen, a show for ages six and older, at the Polka Theatre from 18 February to 8 March. If Wimbledon isn’t convenient, you can also catch the production at the Albany Theatre (31 January), artsdepot (15 March) or Greenwich Theatre (31 March).
Old favourites… back for another year
If in the past few years you’ve missed one of the capital’s family-friendly offerings or shed a few tears when your family’s favourite show said farewell to Theatreland, fear not, you might just have the chance to see it again when some of London’s most popular family productions dating back to 2011 return for 2015!
First up is Mike Kenny’s Olivier Award-winning adaptation of E Nesbit’s much-loved tale The Railway Children, which returns – complete with real-life steam locomotive – to a new purpose-built venue in King’s Cross. In fact, this particular train has already arrived. The acclaimed show is currently in previews prior to its official opening on 14 January, after which it will continue to tell its tale of three children whose lives change forever when their father is mysteriously taken away until it departs in September.
The next few months will also see acrobatics and clowning take over the Royal Albert Hall once again with the return of Cirque Du Soleil’s breathtaking show Kooza. It premiered there in 2013 and will be back impressing families with its contortionists, trapeze artists and the incredible Wheel Of Death from 6 January to 19 February.
Other productions enjoying a second run in 2015 are the Unicorn Theatre’s 2013 and 2014 hits Henry The Fifth and The Velveteen Rabbit. Margery Williams’ heart-warming story about a shy floppy eared toy who longs to be real will again be bringing joy to children aged four and older from 28 March to 26 April, while young Shakespeare lovers will have to wait until May to catch the return of Ellen McDougall’s production of the bard’s history play for ages eight and older.
Classic children’s stories on stage
J M Barrie, Roald Dahl and Kenneth Grahame are behind some of the most enchanting and imaginative stories ever written for children, so fans of their beloved tales will be pleased to hear they’ll get the chance to see them on stage in the coming year.
For older children, the hit-making Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will be putting its unique twist on Peter Pan for its forthcoming summer season with a production that promises “A Neverland where danger stalks dreams and adventure breeds mischief” from 15 May to 14 June.
Shenanigans will also be on the bill at the Royal Court when Enda Walsh’s equally mischievous family adaptation of The Twits arrives at the venue this spring. The Irish playwright plans to turn Dahl’s classic tale about the not-so-nice duo upside down and bring a revolving revolution to the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 7 April to 31 May.
Elsewhere it’s an animal affair, with mythical creatures taking centre stage in Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe In Unicorns at Polka Theatre from 12 to 15 March and woodland chums Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger reuniting at the Greenwich Theatre in The Wind In The Willows on 17 and 18 February. Even swashbuckling pre-historic reptiles make an appearance as Captain Flinn And The Pirate Dinosaurs arrives at the south east London venue, following Graham’s riverbank-set tale, on 19 and 20 February.
A song and dance
From theatrical concerts to classic ballets, there will be a host of productions making a song and dance – in the most literal sense – this year. Returning for a third West End run, the hugely popular Beatles spectacular Let It Be will have audiences twisting, shouting and generally having a lot of fun at the Garrick Theatre from 28 February.
Dancing their way into the West End are two very different productions of Swan Lake. English National Ballet will be bringing its acclaimed production of the Tchaikovsky classic back to the London Coliseum from 7 to 18 January, but for much littler ballet fans – those aged three and older – the world renowned company and its ballet school will return to the Peacock Theatre with My First Ballet: Swan Lake, its child-friendly adaptation of the enchanting tale, from 2 to 12 April.
If your family is more into riverdance than ballet, the Dominion Theatre will be the place to visit in 2015, as Michael Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games returns for a six month run from 13 March following a successful stint at the London Palladium last year.
We hope you enjoyed our taster of what Theatreland has to offer for families in 2015. You can find even more shows, including all of your long-running favourites, here. Don’t forget you can also stay up to date with all the latest family theatre news, offers and competitions by signing up to our fortnightly Family Bulletin.