One of our favourite things to do as a family is to go to the theatre, especially musical theatre. Last week we went to see Annie, now this film (the 1982 version!) I remember having a few friends round my house to watch the video for my birthday and we all absolutely loved it, and ever since this has been one of my all-time favourites.
Theatre trips to date (with Freddie) starting with the most recent, ignoring pantomimes (last year seeing Robin Hood in Loughborough – it was ace!)
- Annie – West End, London
- Thriller Live – West End, London
- Railway Children – West End, London
- Horrible Histories – West End, London
- Wicked – West End, London
- Blue Man Group – Universal Studios Florida
- Lion King – Broadway, New York
- Oliver – Curve, Leicester
- Witches – Curve, Leicester
- Cirque Berserk – Curve, Leicester
- Scooby Doo The Mystery of the Pyramid – Belgrade Coventry
- The Play that goes Wrong – Belgrade Coventry
- What the Ladybird heard – Belgrade, Coventry
- Spots Birthday – Curve, Leicester
Now, this looks like a lot, and I suppose it is. But all of the West End ones (except Annie) were all purchased on Kids Week, where the children go free with a paying adult. I highly recommend doing this as it is expensive to go to the West End, especially as we insist on sitting in the best seats. These tickets go live in June and are for productions in August, so perfect for school holidays. The only problem is you have to be there ready the minute the tickets are released to get to see the best shows, this year I am wanting to go to The School of Rock and Matilda as I know Freddie will just love them.
We started taking Freddie to the theatre when he was three years old, and the first thing he saw was a pantomime. Freddie is a very active, somewhat crazy child but at the theatre, he changes; he sits, watches it and takes it all in. We knew very early that he was going to share our love of the theatre.
As you can see from the list above, we started with very kid friendly productions that were age appropriate with Spots Birthday, and the first “proper production” on Broadway was when he was six. This was also our first time in New York so it was a real experience, and it was just fantastic. I thought the tickets were expensive in London, but nothing compared to New York, we paid about £600 for the three tickets, but it was an experience none of us will forget, and I have to say completely worth the money.
It is an absolute escape from the modern world; there are no phones allowed, no photographs to be taken. You are just submerged in this amazing world of the play. There are no adverts, no trailers - it is all about the production, no one is selling anything, or promoting anything and it is a few hours of pure indulgence.
No two plays are ever the same, the actors always feed on the audience reaction, sometimes, they might even get something wrong, but it is just such a real experience. You can sing, sometimes even dance (certainly at Thriller Live) and you just lose yourself in the music. When I go to the theatre to watch an adult production, I nearly always cry. But that is fine, nobody judges you, everybody feels the same. Although I have to say I went to see Madam Butterfly (an opera) and I was hysterical, which was a little embarrassing, but I just didn't care, I was so in the moment of the production.
The right seats are important
Nine times out of ten we opt to sit in the stalls (for two reasons, firstly, in my opinion, they are the best, and secondly I am a scared of heights, and some theatres are really steep!) and for some productions we have seen, particularly the Lion King the animals are all around you dancing and walking through the isles, it is breathtaking.
Other productions there are real-life props, which is truly spectacular in such a small space of a theatre, but The Railway Children is actually performed at Kings Cross Railway station, so there is a real life train track. Miss Saigon (of course I have seen this without Freddie) has a helicopter!
What is our favourite theatre production?
Well we all have different favourites and for different reasons:
Freddie’s favourite was Thriller Live. He like so many children of his age are a little obsessed with Michael Jackson, he knew all of the songs and sung his little heart out the whole way through.
Stu’s favourite was the Blue Man Group in Universal Studios, it really was worth seeing, but only if you like lots of noise and lots of flashing!
My favourite from this list would probably have to be The Lion King, the production was absolutely amazing, I know this is also on in the West End, and I have heard awesome reviews of it being performed there, so would highly recommend it. My all-time favourites of musical theatre would have to be Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, in my opinion, they are in a league above everything else I have seen (apart from Madame Butterfly which is of equal quality).
Is the theatre the same as the cinema?
Absolutely not, I hate the cinema, I never go unless I am dragged, generally kicking and screaming. It is similar in the sense you are sitting watching something for 2 / 3 hours, but it is not personalised, it has zero characters, people are still sitting playing on their phones. Now to be fair, Stu and Freddie love going so they go while I make dinner or wash my hair!
What is your favourite production to take your kids too? We try to go at least thee times a year so we are always looking out for something new……