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 which performances will suit the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown ups.

Theatre for young children (0-4)

The Gruffalo

This summer brings with it a return for the huge hairy monster that is the Gruffalo, the horned beast from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's kids books. Tall Stories's loved production pitches up in the West End over the holidays. Follow mouse as he heads through the forest outwitting foxes, owls, snakes and more until he bumps into the Gruffalo. Ages 3-plus.

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Lyric Theatre Until Sunday September 6 2015

Fowl Play

A series of unexpected events follow the birth of a new foal in this puppet show farmyard adventure. With lighting and sound to excite everyone aged three years old and over.

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Puppet Theatre Barge Saturday July 4 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom

The Bafta-winning animation about a fairy princess in training and her best friend, Ben the Elf, is brought to the stage by the same people who adapted 'Peppa Pig'. Ladybird Gaston's cave gets a makeover and there's a surprise party for King Thistle, with songs and games along the way. Ages 2+.

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Orchard Theatre Saturday July 25 2015 - Wednesday August 12 2015
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Theatre for children (5+)

I Believe in Unicorns

Doesn't everyone? Michael Morpurgo's magical book for kids is adapted by Wizard Presents and returns to the West End this summer. It's a one-woman show starring Danyah Miller, set in a library and about Tomas who one day meets the Unicorn and Unicorn Lady in his local library. As our book lending venues keep closing, this might be the perfect time to inspire the little 'uns to pick a good book and be transported away. Ages 6-plus.

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Vaudeville Theatre Saturday August 1 2015 - Sunday August 30 2015

Dinosaur Zoo

As a rule, Australians are brilliant just so long as you can make sure the topic of Australia never, ever comes up in conversation. But in this puppet-tastic kids’ show, our Antipodean cousins’ dewy-eyed patriotism is a definite plus. While it would take a jaded parent – let alone a child – to sigh at a stegosaur or tut at a triceratops, the fact is that the dinosaurs we learn about as kids tend to come from a fairly narrow selection of creatures dug up in the northern hemisphere.

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King's Cross Theatre Saturday July 18 2015 - Sunday August 30 2015

Aliens Love Underpants

Forget crop-circles and abductions – according to ‘Aliens Love Underpants’, extraterrestrials travel to us from lightyears away solely to steal our precious undergarments. Adam Bampton-Smith’s adaptation of Claire Freedman’s bestselling children’s book tells the story of Timmy, a whimsical boy, whose dreams of becoming a spaceman come true when he journeys to Planet Janet.

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Dominion Theatre Saturday August 1 2015 - Saturday September 5 2015

Against Captain’s Orders: A Journey into the Uncharted

Critics' choice

Avast! Those of you still trying to work out what the bejesus was going on in Punchdrunk’s cryptic odyssey ‘The Drowned Man’ will be relieved to discover that the latest show from the immersive theatre gurus ventures into calmer waters.There’s a catch, though: ‘Against Captain’s Orders’ is in fact the work of Punchdrunk Enrichment, the company’s learning-centric spin-off, and is running not in a hip abandoned warehouse but the basement of the Greenwich Maritime Museum.

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National Maritime Museum Until Monday August 31 2015
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Theatre for all the family

Billy Elliot the Musical

Critics' choice

Current cast features Harris Beattie, Harrison Dowzel, Redmand Rance and Kaine Ward as Billy. Six years after it first stamped, swore, and pirouetted into audiences' hearts, 'Billy Elliot the Musical' continues to mark itself out as one of the best nights in town. Both as tough as a miner's fist after a Friday night booze-up and as soaringly sensitive as one of Tchaikovsky's swans, it's a gritty story of hope that works its magic by defying sentimentality and slaying stereotypes.

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Victoria Palace Theatre Until Saturday December 17 2016

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Critics' choice

‘Skyfall’ director Sam Mendes’s huge new Warner Brothers musical confirms it: the hottest property in the West End right now is a grouchy, dead half-Norwegian, who loathed show-offs and spent most of his working life hiding out in a shed at the bottom of his garden. Roald Dahl probably wouldn’t have liked the whiz-popping rave that Mendes has created from his addictive kids’ book ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ – because he felt it was Charlie’s story, and any adaptation inevitably becomes the Willy Wonka show.

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane Until Saturday June 4 2016

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 Until Sunday January 3 2016

Matilda the Musical

Critics' choice

'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents.

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Cambridge Theatre Until Sunday December 20 2015
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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