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+)
There's song, silliness and magic tricks galore in this family retelling of 'The Elves and the Shoemaker' by Full House Theatre. A three-strong cast clown their way through the story of a shoemaker who needs help finishing his wonderful stock of sparkly footwear.
This is one children's show where the adults are guaranteed to laugh as hard as the kids (and probably more). Little Angel's latest production tells the superbly silly and at times wonderfully surreal story of ballet-mad mutt, Biff, whose dream is to become a ballerina and dance alongside his owner, the similarly ballet-smitten Anna. Ages 2-6
Theatre for young children (0-4)
This rhyming puppet show tells the story of a baboon who wants to fly to the moon in a hot air balloon, and has the chance to save an elephant from ivory hunters on the way. 'The Flight of Babuscha Baboon' is brought to life using Puppet Theatre Barge's signature marionettes and shadow puppets. Age 3+.
CBeebies stars 'Sarah & Duck' hit the stage for the first time at Wimbledon's Polka Theatre. They're holding a big top birthday party for the scarf lady who lives in the garden, in a giggle-worthy adventure with puppets, stories and songs. Aimed at ages three to six, all ages welcome.
This is one children's show where the adults are guaranteed to laugh as hard as the kids (and probably more). Little Angel's latest production tells the superbly silly and at times wonderfully surreal story of ballet-mad mutt, Biff, whose dream is to become a ballerina and dance alongside his owner, the similarly ballet-smitten Anna. But as Anna's dad, played with enjoyably no-nonsense bluff by Andrea Sadler, insists on telling us: 'Dogs don't do ballet!' It is a view shared by Anna's irrepressible ballet teacher (Ronnie Le Drew), whose Edna Everage-like gusto provokes much hilarity amongst the audience. Biff sets out to prove them all wrong and inspired by a highly comical dream sequence that's a mix between 'Fantasia' and 'Scooby Doo' he sets off to fulfill his dream. Le Drew and Sadler bring the puppet and non-puppet roles to life impressively, and much of the set and many of the puppets are exquisite and cleverly designed. This is a rollicking romp of a show that also manages to subtly pose questions about difference and stereotyping. It's also probably the only place you'll get to watch a dog in a pink tutu dance to Swan Lake this Christmas. Ages 2-6. By Rebecca Taylor
Theatre for all the family
'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. Opening to rave reviews in Stratford-upon Avon before transferring to the West End in 2011 and snatching up Olivier Awards with all the alacrity of a sticky-fingered child in a sweetshop, Matthew Warchus's RSC production remains a treat. With hindsight, Kelly and Minchin's musical, born of the 1988 novel by that master of the splendidly grotesque Roald Dahl, is a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward. But like curly-haired little girl in the famous nursery rhyme, when it is good, it is very, very good. And it's even better when it's horrid. The past few months have seen some cast changes, including, alas, the departure of Bertie Carvel's tremendous Miss Trunchbull, headmistress of the dread Crunchem Hall School, former Olympic hammer-thrower and a gorgon of monumental nastiness, complete with scarily Thatcher-esque tics of purse-lipped gentility and faux concern. David Leonard doesn't quite match the squirm-inducing, hair-raising detail of Carvel in the role, but his more butch, granite-faced version is fantastically horrible nonetheless. And if Paul Kaye as Matilda's loathsom