Seven Spectacular Family Shows to see this Autumn in the West End *Guest Post from TickX*

Our impressively sunshiny-summer has come to an end, meaning it’s time for families to head back to the office and back to school. Luckily, London’s theatre playground has a whole host of family shows to cheer up the Autumnal months, featuring well known classics and one-off specials. Whether it’s a midweek treat or a weekend adventure, head to the West End this Autumn with our sizzling pick of shows to see with the kids.

1. Matilda

The Roald Dahl classic gained its second wave of fame with the movie release in 1996. It was then reimagined as a stage adaptation by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin and premiered at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011. The musical version of the gifted girl brings to life all the memorable characters before your very eyes; the vain and fraudulent Wormwoods , the adorable Miss Honey and the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, with a brand new cast set for September 2018. After scooping up a record number of Olivier Awards for a musical and receiving wide critical acclaim, Matilda the Musical is beloved by audiences of all ages.

The show is running at the Cambridge Theatre until October 19th, set to welcome its eighth million spectator after a stellar run in the West End. With magic and madness, Matilda is the perfect mid-week treat to get you to the weekend, and will now be showing at an earlier time of 7pm on weekdays to better accommodate families.

2. Lion King

It feels like this show has been around for a long time – and it’s simply because it really is that good. Similarly to the Disney film released in 1994, the award-winning musical pulls on heartstrings as it tells the tale of lion cub Simba and his quest to overthrow his uncle to become the rightful king of the pridelands. Set against the backdrop of the Serengeti Plains, the rhythmic African music and sing-a-long lyrics created by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice for the movie are brought to live in the evocative live score, while the colourful creative costumes are nothing but impressive. Children and adults alike will be immersed into the world of the Lion King, as characters such as Zazu, Timon and Pumba, Rafiki, the hyenas and more are played out on stage in a novel approach to children’s theatre.

The epic musical more than justifies its extensive run at the Lyceum Theatre. As the cool weather creeps in this Autumn, the Lion King guarantees to warm your soul.

 

3. Aladdin

Alternatively, swap African plains for Arabian nights and head to the Prince Edward Theatre for an enchanting magic carpet ride. Aladdin is another example of a Disney classic creatively remastered for stage, bringing all the best elements from the 1992 film to life as never before imagined. While some reviews have suggested the musical is a panto-in-disguise, there has been no doubt that the spectacular sets, special effects and jewel-encrusted costumes translate the magic of Agrabah to stage.

Furthermore, young children will be captivated by the larger than life characters such as The Genie, while the elder among us will revel in the plot’s synonymity with the Disney animation. Plus, any show that features hits such as ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Friend Like Me’ is certainly worth its salt. The exotic escape is the perfect way to tackle the beginning of the new school year and the end of summer, uniting radiant colours, a golden lamp and youthful nostalgia to transport you away.

 

4. School of Rock

Nothing cheers kids up for going back to school than the School of Rock. This musical offers something a little more grown up than the likes of Disney, but is still very geared towards families and children aged eight and over. Based upon the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, School of Rock the Musical follows struggling and unemployed rock guitarist Dewey Finn as he poses as a substitute teacher to make some money. Finn realises his students are musically-talented, and so sets forth in spawning a school rock band who are to compete in the Battle of the Bands. The fun and rebellious West End production features music by theatre royalty, Andrew Lloyd Webber, combining songs from the film and new original numbers. Undoubtedly, the best part of School of Rock is the pocket-sized talent on stage, where the child cast can really rock out and impress audiences.

 

5. Wicked

The prequel to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ has become a global sensation. It follows two protagonists; Elphaba and Glinda, who grow up to become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the South. From their perspective, we learn what lead them into their distinguished roles, cultivating a story of friendship and rivalry, love and betrayal and importantly, Elphaba’s lapse into ‘wickedness’. Children will fall in love with the beautiful score created by Academy-award winning Stephen Schwartz while adults will cherish it’s associations to the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland as ‘Dorothy Gale’.

This Autumn, the gravity-defying musical will be celebrating a whopping 12 years in the West End, after surpassing its landmark 5000th performance at the Apollo Victoria Theatre last month. It has gained such uniform approval that there have even been talks of making it into a movie – just be sure to see it on stage first.

 

6. Paddington in concert

On Sunday 14th October, the Peruvian bear will commemorate its 60th anniversary with a live 60-piece orchestral accompaniment to the 2014 film ‘Paddington’. George Jackson will be commanding The Novello Orchestra with Nick Urata’s cheerful score, inducing the perfect introduction for young children to classical music. Moreover, the cute and charming film inspired by Michael Bond’s children’s books won the hearts of adults too, making it a great afternoon out for all the family. Hollywood stars Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman contribute to the film’s star-studded cast, while Ben Whishaw provides the voice for Paddington. It received plenty of praise and critical acclaim, founded upon its ability to transform a treasured classic into a modern movie with appeal for today’s kids.

The production is a one-off event set just before the busy half term. It promises to entertain and charm at the Theatre Royal, and even feature guest stars Nick Urata and Paddington!

 

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Enter a world of spells and sorcery this Autumn with the eighth installment of the wizardly-wonderful Harry Potter series by JK Rowling presented on stage. It famously secured the most Olivier Awards for a play despite only opening in 2016, and has been described as a ‘triumph’ (The Daily Telegraph) and ‘magical experience’ (London Evening Standard). The creatives behind Parts 1 and 2 of the Cursed Child include multiple award winning Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, responsible for writing and directing the play respectively, worked closely with Rowling to ensure the stage adaptation is as spellbinding and captivating as the book. It tells the tale of Harry Potter, 19 years on, tackling demons from his past. Similarly to the literary saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child live has proven popular across generations, with audiences of all ages leaving the Palace Theatre in awe.

Written by Aminah Barnes on behalf of TickX, a ticket search engine comparing events such as theatre, gigs and club nights across the UK.

 

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*** Feature Show *** ~ Aladdin

If I ask if you’ve seen Disney’s Aladdin – the vast majority of you will put your hand right up and might even give me a chorus of ‘Friend Like Me’ the popular big number sung by the incomparable late great Robin Williams who played the Genie. If you’re a theatre fan (or even if you’re not much of a theatre-goer) you’ll have to have been living in a cave not to have heard of the West End’s version of Disney’s Aladdin which has been wowing packed houses at Prince Edward Theatre.

My question is, have you seen it yet?

If the answer is no, would you like to find out some excellent reasons why you shouldn’t miss this spectacular West End show?

If the answer is yes, maybe the reasons I’ll hit you with will inspire you to go again…

  1. It’s Disney! ~ need I say more? Disney sprinkles its inimitable magic whether it be on screen or stage and to step inside the theatre and see this show is to absorb a whole new world of Disney magic (pardon the pun!).
  2. A famous Princess ~ maybe you’ve heard of Jade Ewen? She’s made a name for herself as a popular singer before joining the show and she makes for a perfect Princess Jasmine.
  3. Sing-along ~ unlike some musicals, this one boats so many well known songs that you can’t help but sing along.
  4. A glorious theatre ~ if this is your first time in the West End then you couldn’t pick a better theatre to start with than the Prince Edward Theatre. The atmosphere in the beautiful auditorium alone will astound you before curtain up!
  5. Watch the trailer and let that speak for itself! 

Are you convinced? Would you like to know a secret?

Thanks to the magic lamp, we have an offer you’ll LOVE! No booking fee for performances from 4 – 28 June 2018. Sound like a plan? Go for it: Aladdin Tickets

 

 

 

Photo Credits: Aladdin the Musical Website 

** This article features Affiliate Link with Encore Tickets **

Pick of The West End

The West End is saturated with a cornucopia of musicals, plays and extraordinary theatrical pieces – it’s not always easy to know what to choose and often tempting to want to see it all! If you’re anything like me, that is! So – Break A Leg are going to try to make that choice easier by bringing you a weekly bulletin of offers, deals and opinions. The good news is that you can book tickets through this website as we are partnered with the wonderful Encore Tickets. So, step inside our short guide to the pick of What’s On in the West End this week! 

West End hit, Matilda plays at the Cambridge Theatre, a new West End cast has just been announced and its exceptionally critically acclaimed:

‘Writer Dennis Kelly and composer and lyricist Tim Minchin go to the top of the class with this anarchically joyous, gleefully nasty and ingenious musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story’ –  The Observer

If you love the story in book form or you’ve seen the film, you’ll love this brilliant adaptation – it’s pure theatrical gold!

 

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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Aladdin is set in the town of Agrabah where Princess Jasmine is unhappy with her father, The Sultan’s desire to find her a royal groom. Jafar, the power-hungry Grand Vizier is however, plotting to take over the throne. Jasmine sneaks out of the palace and meets Aladdin, a charming street urchin and reformed thief. When they are found out, Aladdin is sentenced for execution.  Jafar, however saves him and orders him to fetch a lamp from the Cave of Wonders…. but when there is a lamp, there is also a Genie! Aladdin is transformed into Prince Ali in attempt to Jasmine’s heart and prevent Jafar’s evil plans.

To see the West End Musical adaptation ‘in the flesh’ at Prince Edward Theatre, find a magic lamp… or simply…

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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A major new production of the smash-hit West End and Broadway musical swings into the new Marble Arch Theatre.
Nomax is single, broke and drinking his sorrows away when five guys named Moe – Big Moe, Little Moe, Eat Moe, Know Moe and Four-Eyed Moe – appear out of nowhere to help him straighten out and sing and dance his way to love!
Featuring the hits of original jazz king Louis Jordan, including Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby, Early In The Morning, Choo Choo Ch’Boogie and, Saturday Night Fish Fry, Five Guys Named Moe is a theatrical experience like no other!

Would you like to experience it?

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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In The Woman in Black, junior solicitor Arthur Kipps journeys to the funeral of a client, Mrs Alice Drablow where he sees a young woman with a wasted face, dressed all in black, standing in the churchyard. Confused by the villagers’ reluctance to speak of The Woman in Black, Kipps goes to Mrs. Drablow’s former home Eel Marsh House, a building in the middle of a marsh, cut off from the mainland at high tide. While sorting through her papers he finds a box of letters, and ultimately discovers, to his own terrible cost, the dreadful secret of the Woman in Black.

Price Band A Tickets – Tuesday performances: Was £47.50 Now £20.00, saving 58%

Valid until 24 October 2017

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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OPENING 12 September 2017 and if you want to know what the show’s all about, read my review of its run at Coventry Belgrade Theatre, here: Footloose Review

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

Aladdin ~ Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield

You can catch Aladdin until Tuesday 3 January 2017 and book your tickets here: http://www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk

Star Rating: *****

My second visit to watch the story of Aladdin told through pantomime was a spectacular experience, glistening with a stunning set, peppered with quick-fired wit and a cornucopia of musical numbers from a solid cast.

I particularly took to the Principle Boy and Principle Girl, which is a rarity for me when watching this genre of production, I usually find that the characters are so cheesy and over the top that I lose interest. Not so with this version, with a ballsy performance as Princess Jasmine from Liz McCLarnon, she had the right balance of gentility and warrior! Plus what a singing voice, of course. With a fantastic track record from her Atomic Kitten days, I expected good things, but I was blown away by her enthusiasm for the role and she is a real asset to the cast. Equally, Lee Brennan from 911 was an energetic and heroic Aladdin, his vocal ability remains on top form and he works hard to bring a much-loved character to life, very successfully too. Greg Ashton as Widow Twankey is the best Dame I have ever had the joy of watching, before. I was familiar with his work in drag, but he took this performance to another level, with multiple quick changes, an excellent rapport with the audience and comic timing to rival any comedian. James Dangerfield was a well matched ‘side-kick’ as Wishee Washee and I admired his easy humour, ready smile and the audience were instantly on his side, as should be the case with a comedy role. Add to the equation the hilarious Keith and Ben Simmons as the Chinese Policeman, demonstrating excellent physical comedy as well as the right pace for the audience to catch on whilst keeping the ebb of the show flowing. The pair of them were a real force to be reckoned with and should be commended on a brilliant partnership.

Choreography was light, lively and the ensemble worked well together, some very talented dancers among the company. I loved the mixture of classic and modern songs and I thoroughly enjoyed the mash-up of Atomic Kitten and 911, all good party music choices to get the audience in the festive spirit. You can’t go wrong by choosing Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by Jess Glynne, either – that’s my favourite!

The reason that this pantomime has been such a highlight for me is that it didn’t rely on special effects. I think I counted one use of obvious ‘trickery’ ,otherwise it was down to the cast to tell the story, create a happy, electric atmosphere and make the audience feel involved. All of this was achieved and more, I can’t recommend this show highly enough, I would go back and see it again if I could!

Aladdin ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Aladdin runs until Sunday 22 January 2017 – click here to book your tickets! http://www.grandtheatre.co.uk

Star Rating: ****

Two talent show entrants, one Strictly Come Dancing star, one obligatory man in a frock and Doreen from Tipton! The cast itself was promising for this year’s pantomime extravaganza at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, and Aladdin did not disappoint. A resplendent set, a beautifully choreographed ensemble of dancers and a laugh-a-minute script delivered perfectly. I think the Grand’s panto is going to take a lot of beating, this year.

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Wishee Washee (Adam C Booth) and Slave of the Ring (Lisa Riley) take to the floor!

Past X Factor winner, Joe McElderry played the title role and his vocal ability has certainly not diminished over time, his sparkling cheesy grin was also a great asset to the role of Principal Boy and I thought he gave a sterling performance. He played opposite Lucy Kay as Princess Jasmine, another performer recognisable from the telly, this time from Britain’s Got Talent. The pair were a good match. Lisa Riley was a bubbly and lively Slave of the Ring. She was originally known from Emmerdale, then You’ve Been Framed and is now beer known for having been a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing a couple of years ago, so of course her entrance music was the Strictly theme tune! Ian Adams was a traditional Widow Twankey, throwing himself energetically into the gags and his costumes were glamorous and novel, an impressive Dame. Adam C Booth was such a tonic as Wishee Washee, the part couldn’t have been better cast and I thought that he was brilliant with the young children who came up on stage for the community song. Stefan Pejic was a menacing Abanazar and, he seemed to be enjoying playing the villain which gave him an edge in the part. My all-time favourite had to be Doreen Tipton who played The Lazy Empress, she was in a wheelchair, then on a mobility scooter, all of her gags were incorporated into the script and because it was Wolverhampton, they worked. I hope to see her in panto every year, now – what inspired casting.

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Doreen Tipton was my favourite!

There was a good selection of musical numbers, although I did feel that a few more wouldn’t have gone amiss, however the comedy provided from Widow Twankey, Wishee Washee, Slave of the Ring and PC Ping Pong (Ben Faulks) more than made up for that. The effects used were quite something and the end of act one was a sight to behold, indeed. I shan’t spoil it but let’s just say that Joe McElderry could have said hello to Australia from that angle…

It’s good family fun, my Son is almost three years old and he thoroughly enjoyed it, engaged well with it and is talking about it. It’s also got quite a long run so there’s plenty of time to go and embrace the magic of panto in Wolverhampton.

Disney on Ice – NIA, Birmingham

Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams

Celebrating 100 years of Disney magic was the aim of this spectacular show at Birmingham’s NIA Arena, and to say it was done ‘in style’ is an understatement.

Surpassing themselves, in our opinion – the talented and fearless team of skaters worked wonders as they conjured up sweet memories of Disney films gone by. Starting with Aladdin, was an ingenious (pardon the pun) idea and tribute, and we were blown away by the acrobatic skills of ‘Aladdin’ and the main ‘Genie’ (for there were several genies!) it was simply amazing. Equally, Beauty and the Beast provided an opportunity for more demonstrations of intricate footwork, seamless moves and a breath-taking backdrop. It must be no mean feat to perform so marvellously dressed as the Beast or indeed a candlestick!

Its A Small World was inspired, as huge Disneyland Paris fans it resurrected memories of a fantastic ride, capturing all of the magical innocence of the experience. The scenery that was ‘shifted’ with the performers was barely noticeable as every transition occurred so smoothly. We hope that there are more links to the Disney parks in future shows as this element definitely enhanced the first act.

Toy Story was our personal favourite, which featured skaters who mimicked the characters exceedingly well and gave some of the best all round performances. There were some stunning special effects used throughout, notably during the Pinocchio scene and some of the more ‘obscure’ Disney films were showcased, which was the icing on the cake.

With appearances from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and so many sing along moments, this is a must see show. Tickets can be booked by following this link http://www.feldentertainment.com/Shows/DisneyOnIce/

Have a Disney kinda day, everyone!

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