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

Theatre for young children (0-4)

I Want My Hat Back

A Christmas kids adventure over at the Temporary Theatre at the National is taking place with this adaptation of Jon Klassen's 'I Want My Hat Back'. Joel Horwood writes the book and lyrics for the show, while 'Doctor Who's Arthur Darvill pens the songs for the tale of Bear, whose hat has gone and who goes on a mission through the forest to find it. Ages 3-plus.  

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National Theatre, South Bank Thursday November 12 2015 - Saturday January 2 2016

Breaking the Ice

This new show puts a polar bear and a husky together as the best of friends. 'Breaking the Ice' is a piece for ages 2-5 where everyone learns how to play along together. It's based on the true story of what happened when a bear and a load of huskies played happily together.

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Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge Until Sunday October 4 2015

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, Piccadilly Circus Friday September 4 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

The Three Little Pigs

Here's a new family musical with some pop star names to delight the clan. Simon Webbe of Blue stars alongside West End musical actors Leanne Jones and Alison Jiear in this show by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe about those three pigs from the fairy tale. In an updating of the huff, puff story, here it's three porkers who become celebrities and have to outwit the big bad wolf.

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Palace Theatre, Soho Until Sunday September 6 2015
See more of the best London shows for little ones

Theatre for children (5+)

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Three

Critics' choice

Murder, death and poo is promised in the first five minutes of the latest stage adaptation of Terry Deary and Neal Foster’s ‘Horrible Histories’ series. And your little ‘uns won’t be disappointed: as the show speeds through the history of Britain, from the stone age to WWI, there are hangings, beheadings and lots of talk of cesspits. But amid all that crap and gore, you’ll also likely learn a thing or two.

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Garrick Theatre, Covent Garden Until Saturday September 5 2015

Hetty Feather

This is a review of the show's run in 2014. 'Hetty Feather' is back, on the West End in August 2015. In the first few moments of this play, protagonist Hetty Feather acrobatically flips over on to an aerial hoop to dangle mid-air. It’s a spellbinding start to a magical show for kids.Adapted from Jacqueline Wilson’s bestselling novel, the story follows Hetty (Phoebe Thomas) from being abandoned as an infant in Victorian England to her reunion with her birth mother.

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Duke of York’s Theatre, Covent Garden Friday September 4 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

The Three Little Pigs

If your sprogs are freaking out over the fact we’ve still got five months left until panto season  then ‘The Three Little Pigs’ might just tide you over. This pocket-sized musical is a pantomime in all but name: a cheery, cheesy modernised adaptation of a fairy story, plus songs and a minor celebrity – in this case Blue’s Simon Webbe – gamely playing the villain.

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Palace Theatre, Soho Until Sunday September 6 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, Fitzrovia Friday September 4 2015 - Saturday September 5 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, St James's Park Until Saturday December 17 2016

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Critics' choice

A luminous roller-coaster ride of colour, spectacle and fantastical happenings, Sam Mendes’s stage version of Roald Dahl’s adored children’s book is still as entertaining as ever, two years and a couple of casts down the line. And though a lot of that comes down to the show’s garishly-hued stage tricks, it’s also due to the main attraction.

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Covent Garden 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, Covent Garden Until Sunday March 27 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, Covent Garden Until Sunday May 29 2016
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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