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Children's theatre in London

Keep the kids quiet with a bit of culture at one of London's family-friendly shows

'Grandad Me and Teddy Too'

Even the smallest members of the family enjoy the odd stage show. Here are the Time Out theatre team's recommendations for kids' theatre and which performances will suit the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown ups too. If you're planning ahead for the school holidays, check out top 10 children's theatre shows this half-term and our 101 things to do in London with kids. Or for treats the whole family can enjoy, have a look at our favourite West End theatre shows.

Theatre for children (5+)

The Cat In The Hat

A revival production of Katie Mitchell's National Theatre adaptation of Dr Seuss's 'The Cat In The Hat' arrives at the Pleasance in time for Christmas. Based on the madcap evocative children's books, the show follows Sally and her brother who meet a mischievous cat. Ages 3-plus.

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Pleasance Theatre , Lower Holloway Tuesday December 6 2016 - Monday January 2 2017

Mr Popper's Penguins

This new family musical comes to Kingston after top-notch reviews during its festive run at the Lowry in Manchester. Original songs and puppetry tell the story of Mr Popper, a painter and decorator who discovers a troupe of performing penguins.

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Criterion Theatre , Piccadilly Circus Until Saturday December 31 2016

Babe, The Sheep-Pig

David Wood, who's famed for a 40-year strong career adapting kids' classics, has written this new version of Dick King Smith's 'Babe' for the Polka Theatre. It's the story of an adorable piglet who discovers a rare talent for sheep-herding, and leads his gruff farmer to an unlikely kind of celebrity. This farmyard tale will be adapted using original songs and puppetry, in a show suitable for the whole family.

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Polka Theatre , South Wimbledon Until Sunday February 5 2017

Baddies: The Musical

Whether it's Maleficent or Katie Hopkins, the villains we love to hate are so much more memorable than the whiter-than-white good guys that eventually defeat them. So the baddie-baiting premise of Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler's scrappy new musical has plenty in it to charm both children and adults who are tired of saintly Peppa Pig's farmyard homilies.Captain Hook, The Big Bad Wolf, the Ugly Sisters and Rumpelstiltskin are finally being punished for their wicked ways by the Board of Fairytales. After a visually stunning capture scene at Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother's cottage, Wolf joins the fold. Dean Nolan is an edgy, riotously funny delight as Wolf: James Button's ingeniousdesign decks him out in wolf tattoos, a suitably lupine band t-shirt and even a furry tail dangling from his belt. But he can't quite bring himself to delivering the huff and puff his costume suggests, wrestling with the conflict between his villainous grandma-gobbling role in the story and his cutesy offstage romance with Cinderella. Hisbickering baddie cellmates have no such qualms: they tell their stories in cabaret-style numbers, and torment poor Rumpelstiltskin, re-imagined as an irate Scottish punk who's got nothing scary about him but his farts.Harris and Teitler spin their original Grimm fairy tales into comic gold for ages five-plus. But no amount of spit-and-polish can hide the fact that they're so interested in how and why stories use villainy, they forget to include any conflict. Cind

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Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Tuesday December 6 2016 - Tuesday December 20 2016

Kiki's Delivery Service

Fans of the Studio Ghibli film watch out: Southwark Playhouse's Christmas show is based on the book that inspired it, a novel by Japanese author Eiko Kadono, rather than the luscious animation itself. But it should still offer plenty of charm, as it follows a 13 year old witch who leaves her family to start a new life alone. Jessica Sian's adaptation is suitable for everyone aged seven-plus.

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Southwark Playhouse , Elephant and Castle Thursday December 8 2016 - Sunday January 8 2017

Christmas Tales - By Chickenshed

Storytelling maestros Tales from the Shed return with a festive spectacular inspired by the joys of panto. Their 'Talesomime' will be a pantomime with a host of quirky characters including Can-Can and The Thing That Goes Bleurgh, as well as plenty of interactive silliness. Ages 1-6, babies go free.

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Dugdale Centre , Enfield Town Thursday December 8 2016 - Friday December 30 2016

The Night That Autumn Turned To Winter

Little Bulb have been delighting Battersea Arts Centre audiences with their characteristic blend of comedy, high whimsy and devised theatre for a few years now. Their Christmas show for children is a woodland story, starring a lively cast of forest animals. For kids aged three to seven. 

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Battersea Arts Centre , Battersea Until Sunday January 8 2017
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Theatre for young children (0-4)

How To Hide A Lion

Iris has a brand new friend, but she knows her family and friends won't love him quite as much as she does. This story of a girl trying to hide a lion in all sorts of devious ways is adapted by Peter Glanville from Helen Stephen's children's story, and will feature songs by singer-songwriter Barb Jungr. There are two versions: one for todders ages 1-2, and another for kids ages 3-6. Check the Polka Theatre website for full details. 

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Polka Theatre , South Wimbledon Until Sunday February 26 2017

Me...

The Little Angel's winter spectacular for toddlers is the story of a tiny penguin in a huge snowy world. As storms come, she tries to find her feet. 'Me...' is an adaptation of Emma Dodd's picture book, which is a cosy story of family love. Ages two to six.

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Little Angel Theatre , Islington Thursday December 8 2016 - Sunday January 29 2017

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

Little kids will wriggle in excitement at this festive treat, based on Eric Carle's gorgeous watercolour picture books. As well as 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', Jonathan Rockefeller's family-friendly stage show will adapt three lesser known stories: 'The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse', 'Mister Seahorse', and 'The Very Lonely Firefly'.  The production started out in Australia before touring to New York's Broadway, where it scooped up plaudits for its agile cast of 75 puppets.  

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Ambassadors Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday January 7 2017

Glitterbugs

Discover Children's Story Centre creates a magical, glittery, shiny winter haven for babies and toddlers. This 20-minute performance features glitterbug-themed stories, puppets and songs for children aged 0-3.

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Discover Children's Story Centre , Stratford Until Sunday January 15 2017

Sponge: Turned On Its Head

This show for toddlers by Turned On Its Head is inspired by all things squishy, squashy and spongey. The company use a simple toolbox of homespun materials to create a tactile physical word for babies and small children to explore. Liz Clark and Oksana Tyminska will dance to an original '70s-inspired score by Tayo Akinbode that's perfect for under-fives.

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Tuesday December 13 2016 - Wednesday December 21 2016

Ready Steady Colour's Christmas Feast

Families are treated to a banquet with a difference at this lip-smacking interactive show from A Line Art. Every guest will make their own make-believe meal, choosing from traditional Christmas meals with all the trimmings. The waiters will deliver colourful plates of imaginary ingredients, before launching into a musical journey that everyone can get involved in. Suitable for everyone aged 3-plus.

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Discover Children's Story Centre , Stratford Until Friday December 23 2016

The Night That Autumn Turned To Winter

Little Bulb have been delighting Battersea Arts Centre audiences with their characteristic blend of comedy, high whimsy and devised theatre for a few years now. Their Christmas show for children is a woodland story, starring a lively cast of forest animals. For kids aged three to seven. 

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Battersea Arts Centre , Battersea Until Sunday January 8 2017

Boing!

A piece of dance theatre from Champloo Dance Company, Travelling Light and Bristol Old Vic that tries to capture the magic of staying up waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. Ages 3+

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Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Saturday December 31 2016

We're Going On A Bear Hunt

Acclaimed director Sally Cookson is the brains behind the National Theatre's 'Peter Pan' - and this long-running adaptation of Michael Rosen's story for younger kids, 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt', which calls in at ArtsDepot this Christmas. A brave troupe of adventurers set out to catch a grizzly, accompanied by their musical dog. There's real mud and interactive silliness in this quirky, hands on musical show. Ages three-plus. 

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Artsdepot , North Finchley Until Monday January 2 2017

Extra Yarn

The Orange Tree's cosy-sounding Christmas show is the family-friendly story of a girl with a talent for knitting. Elinor Cook adapts Mac Barnett's tale of a girl who escapes her grey town by covering it in bright multicoloured knitwear, after she discovers a brightly-coloured box of wool. This warm-hearted yarn is aimed at families and children aged 3-plus.

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Orange Tree Theatre , Richmond Friday December 16 2016 - Saturday January 7 2017
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Theatre for all the family

The Lion King

The posters have been plastered around the London Underground for years – long enough for this show to become the most successful musical of all time – but nothing prepares you for the sheer impact of 'The Lion King's opening sequence. With the surge of 'Circle Of Life' reverberating through your chest, Julie Taymor's animal creations march on, species by species. Gazelles spring, birds swoop and an elephant and her child lumber through the stalls. It's a cacophonous cavalcade that genuinely stops you breathing.

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Lyceum Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday April 30 2017

The Railway Children

Recommended

E Nesbit’s book-turned-cult movie about three exceptionally well-mannered Edwardian children is essentially ‘Brief Encounter’ for families. But this lively version is more than just a ticket for the nostalgia express, thanks to some strong performances and a thrilling staging including a real 60-tonne steam engine.

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Until Sun Jan 8
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Comments

6 comments
Lucy Limon
Lucy Limon

Which play does that top photo show, the one with the train steaming down the middle of the theatre?? That looks amazing. Thanks

Lucy Limon
Lucy Limon

Which play does that top photo show, the one with the train steaming down the middle of the theatre?? That looks amazing. Thanks

Andrzej
Andrzej

Re: Elaine: the smaller theatres tend to be represented more by the 'for children' and 'for young children' tabs at the top of the screen - if you click on them you'll see shows at the Little Angel et al, it's just that the genuinely 'family friendly' shows (ie anyone of any age could see them) tend to gravitate towards the West End while the specialist children's theatre tend to put on shows that are actively aimed at children only. Might rethink this one if it's not clear!

elaine turner
elaine turner

this sight is too west end based- what is needed is some information regarding small theatres that we can take our kids to without getting a new mortgage

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