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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+)

Air Play

This playful family show is inspired by all things floaty - from balloons, to flying umbrellas, to drifting snow inside a giant snow globe. 'Air Play' is the handiwork of seasoned circus artists Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, who've traveled the world together making inventive, exciting work. They've sought out air sculptor Daniel Wurtzel as a collaborator for this new piece, which is directed by West Hyler. Suitable for children aged five-plus.

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Southbank Centre , South Bank Tuesday August 9 2016 - Sunday August 14 2016

James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl's sweet and juicy story gets a laughter-filled stage adaptation from Polka Theatre. James grows a giant peach from some magic, glowing seeds - then moves in with his new insect friends. Aimed at children aged five to 11.

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Polka Theatre , South Wimbledon Until Sunday August 14 2016

The Secret Garden

With a rotating cast of over 300 kids and young people, 'The Secret Garden' from P2P Productions is quite the undertaking. Luckily, they've got form when it comes to summery musical mayhem, having staged 'Annie Junior' in the West End last year. They're using a pared down, 70 minute version of Marsha Norman's Tony Award-winning adaptation of Frances Hodgson-Burnett's novel, with music by Lucy Simon. It tells the story of a young girl who's forced to work as a servant in her school after losing her fortune - before a magical transformation takes place.

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Ambassadors Theatre , Covent Garden Until Wednesday August 31 2016

The Scarecrow's Wedding

Two cheery scarecrows picnic, play and frolic their way through this joyful family show from Scamp Theatre. Based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's beloved picture book 'The Scarecrow's Wedding', this adaptation is full of songs, witty touches, and imagination. Suitable for ages three-plus.

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Leicester Square Theatre , Leicester Square Until Sunday September 4 2016

Horrible Histories - The Best Of Barmy Britain

Terry Deary's books wow kids with gore galore, showcasing the side of history that teachers do their best to gloss over. So it's little surprise that the gleeful stage shows they've spawned are a big hit with families. Horrible Histories are marking their fifth year in the West End with a 'Best Of' anniversary production that unites favourite historical figures from Boudicca to body snatchers Burke and Hare. 

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Apollo Shaftesbury , Soho Friday August 5 2016 - Saturday September 3 2016

946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

Emma Rice brings her former company Kneehigh to the Globe for the second time this summer with this big, boisterous, music-filled show adapted from a 2006 novella by 'War Horse' man Michael Morpurgo. Set during the Second World War, it follows the goings on in a Devon town, an idyll shattered by the terrible carnage of a botched training exercise that claimed the lives of 946 American servicemen.

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Shakespeare's Globe , South Bank Thursday August 11 2016 - Sunday September 11 2016

Stig Of The Dump

Cbeebies’ Katy Ashworth stars in this song-filled story of a boy who meets a prehistoric man down in the woods. Suitable for children aged four-plus.

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Arts Theatre , Covent Garden Until Friday August 26 2016
See more kids theatre recommendations

Theatre for young children (0-4)

Brer Rabbit's Track & Field: Tales from the Shed

Brer Rabbit heads to Rio for the Olympics in this cheerful puppet show. The Tales Team from the Chickenshed present a topical piece of storytelling, which will see the famously devious rabbit rubbing noses with a whole host of new friends from around the world. For children aged six and under - babies go free.

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Chickenshed , Oakwood Until Friday August 5 2016

The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson’s massively successful picture book gets a cute, song-filled adaptation that's bound to be a hit with tiny fans of 'The Gruffalo'.

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Lyric Theatre , Piccadilly Circus Until Sunday January 8 2017
See more of the best London shows for little ones

Theatre for all the family

946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

Emma Rice brings her former company Kneehigh to the Globe for the second time this summer with this big, boisterous, music-filled show adapted from a 2006 novella by 'War Horse' man Michael Morpurgo. Set during the Second World War, it follows the goings on in a Devon town, an idyll shattered by the terrible carnage of a botched training exercise that claimed the lives of 946 American servicemen.

Read more
Shakespeare's Globe , South Bank Thursday August 11 2016 - Sunday September 11 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 January 29 2017

The Secret Garden

With a rotating cast of over 300 kids and young people, 'The Secret Garden' from P2P Productions is quite the undertaking. Luckily, they've got form when it comes to summery musical mayhem, having staged 'Annie Junior' in the West End last year. They're using a pared down, 70 minute version of Marsha Norman's Tony Award-winning adaptation of Frances Hodgson-Burnett's novel, with music by Lucy Simon. It tells the story of a young girl who's forced to work as a servant in her school after losing her fortune - before a magical transformation takes place.

Read more
Ambassadors Theatre , Covent Garden Until Wednesday August 31 2016

The Railway Children

Critics' choice

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

Horrible Histories - The Best Of Barmy Britain

Terry Deary's books wow kids with gore galore, showcasing the side of history that teachers do their best to gloss over. So it's little surprise that the gleeful stage shows they've spawned are a big hit with families. Horrible Histories are marking their fifth year in the West End with a 'Best Of' anniversary production that unites favourite historical figures from Boudicca to body snatchers Burke and Hare. 

Read more
Apollo Shaftesbury , Soho Friday August 5 2016 - Saturday September 3 2016
See more recommended family shows

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