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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Matilda the Musical ~ Milton Keynes Theatre

Matilda the Musical is currently touring, check out the tour dates, venues and book your tickets, here: Matilda the Musical

Guest Review by Hayley Makepeace 


An amazing show from the RSC, it’s obvious why it is doing so fabulously well.

The children are the most talented I have ever seen in a production. They really steal the show. This is a musical made for children and adults alike whilst still very much retaining its roots as a children’s story. Everything about it keeps you in a child’s world…the ‘oversized’ set…huge building blocks featuring the alphabet, large swings that send the children soaring in the air across the stage, huge school gates that can be scaled. It all transports the audience to a 5 year old child’s perspective.

Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood with Matt Gilleett as Rudolpho

Then there are the elaborate and colourful costumes that extenuate the Wormwood characters whilst Matilda is dressed plain and ‘normally’ by contrast. The set creates an imaginative child’s world with wonder, fantasy and excitement yet it is tinged with darkness mirroring the sad existence endured by Matilda.  This is a show that pulls at the heartstrings. Poppy Jones as Matilda showed us a very intelligent yet solemn, grown up but mischievous girl. A tiny girl, she maintained a stage presence that left you in no doubt who the show was about. An amazingly strong and clear voice when she was talking, a beautiful sweet singing voice that held an air of sadness but wasn’t too grown up and suited her young character.

Trunchbull (Craige Els) is a giant towering over everyone and everything, reflecting the scary darker side of life. The character was brilliantly played by the actor, Very strong and completely stood out as a character on its own against the world. I loved it when Truchbull swung Amanda (Maddie Gilbey) around by the pigtails. The scene had the effect of Amanda being swung into the audience, but then cleverly the girl fell from the ceiling onto the floor.

Craige Els as Trunchbull with Carly Thoms as Miss Honey

There were also excellent performances from Carly Thoms as Miss Honey, Matilda’s timid yet determined teacher and Rebecca Thornhill and Sebastian Torkia as Matilda’s parents, the brash Wormwoods.

A captivating and energetic production that holds your attention entirely, throughout. In fact I’ve never been at a show that seemingly passes so quickly. I loved the score and may have to purchase a CD!

Matilda the Musical stays at Milton Keynes Theatre until 30 June 2018. 

Photo Credits: Matilda the Musical Website

Entertainment Views Interviews: Star of Matilda, Rebecca Thornhill

Matilda The Musical is on UK tour – book your tickets to see the show, here: Matilda the Musical Tickets

Rebecca Thornhill first became a familiar face and voice to me when she appeared in the National Theatre’s Oklahoma, starring alongside one other than Hugh Jackman! I also recall her performance as Mrs Banks in the stage version of Mary Poppins, she was outstanding. When I heard that she’s appearing as Mrs Wormwood in Matilda The Musical I was extremely excited to have the opportunity of putting some questions to her about the show – without further ado…

Thank you for talking to Entertainment Views, Rebecca. Tell me about Matilda The Musical and the part you’re playing…

I’m playing Mrs Wormwood, Matilda’s mum. Matilda’s mum is more occupied with herself that her daughter.

How familiar were you with the story before you joined the cast?

I had read the book a while back but I knew the film very well.

What’s your personal highlight in the show?

My number ‘Loud’ which is gruelling fun!

What are the challenges of your role? 

Like most roles, keeping It fresh as the first performance.

Which character would you like to play if you could swap for a day?

Miss Trunchbull. It’s the best!

Why do you think that Roald Dahl stories have remained such a firm favourite?

 People can relate to the characters in their own lives and love the morals he teaches us. Also, we all love a dark side.

What can the audience expect from the show?

To have their emotions woken up and be a child again and for the children to be inspired by the amazing kids!

Why should everybody book a ticket to come and see it?

It’s the best night out ever!

Huge thanks to Rebecca for a fantastic insight, looking forward to hearing my Guest Reviewer’s opinion after next week’s performance in Milton Keynes! 

Entertainment Views Interviews: Star of Matilda The Musical, Carly Thoms

Matilda The Musical is on UK tour – book your tickets to see the show, here: Matilda the Musical Tickets

Carly Thoms first appeared on my radar when she played the title role of Little Voice in the final production at the original Union Theatre. She shone and her performance resonated for a long time. Now, she’s playing the role of everybody’s favourite teacher, Miss Honey in the critically acclaimed, Matilda. The show will arrive in Milton Keynes next week so I was keen to catch up with Carly again to find out about her latest challenge. 

Thank you for talking to Entertainment Views, Carly. Tell me about Matilda The Musical and the part you’re playing…

I play Miss Honey, Matilda’s kind and caring teacher who is saved by Matilda’s strength!

How familiar were you with the story before you joined the cast?

Matilda was my favourite book when growing up so to be a part of this production is a real dream come true.

What’s your personal highlight in the show?

I love “When I Grow Up”. It is so relatable for children and adults alike! It makes adults think about their inner child and it’s a very magical moment of the show because of that.

What are the challenges of your role? 

Miss Honey can easily become a victim character so finding the points where she shows strength was very important to me when discovering the role.

Which character would you like to play if you could swap for a day?

Mrs Wormwood – I would love to wear that costume and she has some of the best lines in the show in my opinion!  

Why do you think that Roald Dahl stories have remained such a firm favourite?

They seem to always centre around an unlikely hero and I think the underdog winning appeals to all people whichever background they come from and whatever age.

What can the audience expect from the show?

A fun filled evening with laughter, tears and to leave with a warm feeling in your heart.

Why should everybody book a ticket to come and see it?

The show is in its 7th year and is still going strong. As the posters say, “believe the hype”!

Huge thanks to Carly for a superb interview, I’ll be excited to hear what my Guest Reviewer thinks of the production. Break a leg, Carly! 

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! 

Spotlight On… Paula Tappenden

*** Spotlight on… Paula Tappenden ***

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She’s currently playing Mrs Lyons in the UK tour of Blood Brothers, but was also the first ever on stage Miss Honey in Matilda before the current musical incarnation was thought of. We spoke to Paula Tappenden about life on tour and her career so far…

How has the current tour of Blood Brothers been going? What do you love about the show?

The tour is flying by – I’ve really enjoyed being back in the show, over the years I have returned to the role many times and there is always something new to discover. I have loved being part of the ‘Blood Brothers family’ – it’s a very large slightly dysfunctional one with a huge heart.

For me and quite a few other cast members we also met our partners through Blood Brothers…both my husband and my brother-in-law have played Mr Lyons…and I played Mrs Lyons with both of them in the West End. I think the strangest show must have been when Stephen my husband played Mr Lyons and Kevin his brother went on as Narrator (…just to add they also happen to be identical twins!).
Do you have a favourite theatre on tour?
Impossible to choose! Although some theatres can be more challenging than others, for example, working on a very steep rake in heels isn’t the easiest thing to do, and although some theatres are really beautiful with lovely ornate auditoriums, FOH, and lovely staff …backstage can sometimes be quite cramped with fairly basic facilities.
Mrs Lyons is a great character and has that lovely duet with Mrs JohnstoneMy Child do you feel any affinity with Mrs Lyons and who has been your favourite Mrs Johnstone been?

My Child is a lovely song, and shows Mrs Lyons’ real longing to have a child. The tune is also repeated later in the show, which some people may not notice. I also understudy/cover Mrs Johnstone so in a way I have an affinity with both characters (especially when I am trying to hurry my son to school and I catch myself using Willy Russells dialogue!!). When I joined the show I was told that Mrs Lyons is not a villain; I feel sympathy for her as she is trying so hard to be a great mother but is only too aware she fails and because of misguided actions she is not an instantly likeable character. This makes her a much more challenging role to play.

Over the years I think I have worked with about nine Mrs. J’s and I am still in contact with a lot of them so, as with the favourite theatre question, I couldn’t possibly choose the best one…They are all Fabulous! …In a couple of weeks we may need to share dressing rooms again so I may have to add that Maureen Nolan is particularly fabulous this tour!
What have been your career highlights so far?
Creating the role of Miss Honey in the first ever production of Matilda. Unfortunately not the huge West End success that the current one is – but I did get to meet Roald Dahl. Also my first ever theatre tour, Dr Who the Ultimate Adventure – we had a hoot and I think I was possibly the first ever female Cyberman!
What led you to become an actress?
 went to college and couldn’t decide between Art and Drama – when a school friend turned up naked to the ‘life art’ class to be sketched I decided I would choose Drama.
Any particular role you’re keen to play in the future?
I would love to play a part/create a role in a new play that no one has performed yet or have free rein to adapt an already written part. Anything by Mike Leigh or Alan Ayckbourn would be great.
What is your advice for anyone wishing to enter the industry?
Learn a musical instrument – there seems to be many more parts for actors who are also musicians.
Favourite Things (give me your gut reaction to these questions:)
Favourite musical?
Sunny Afternoon ( @kinksmusical ) currently on at the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End, as my husband plays the part of Mr Davies in it.
Favourite food?
Sunday Roast.
Favourite time of year?
Autumn without the spiders.
Favourite landmark?
The UK’s first roundabout (It’s an unassuming little sign and roundabout) but it means I’m nearly home.
Favourite way to spend a weekend?
I’d like to say having lunch and drinks with friends and family – although while touring Sundays are usually spent taking the kids to Karate/swimming/rollerskating, washing, getting the school stuff ready and then collapsing in front of the telly with a glass of wine. The last couple of venues we have been lucky enough to have Monday off as well as Sunday, so it feels like a whole weekend.
For details of the UK tour of Blood Brothers and to book tickets, please follow this link: http://www.kenwright.com/index.php?id=590

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