Top TEN Summer Theatre Shows in London
Updated: Jul 30, 2021
Oh the JOY of a live auditorium! They are popping up all over the capital this summer - in some gloriously unusual places.
1. LONDON WONDERGROUND
The old Earls Court Exhibition Centre has transformed into London Wonderground until the end of August.
The Gruffalo, the Witch and the Warthog is running daily (11am) until 1 August. Julia Donaldson is the most brilliant live performer and is bringing some of her best-loved stories to life, accompanied by her guitar-playing husband Michael. If you and your children are fans (and who isn't?) you are in for a real treat!
Older siblings should check out 360 All Stars to 15 August. We loved this awesome street circus when we saw them in Edinburgh. Click here to see a video preview.
Next month, family highlights include Fireman Sam Live, Dinosaur Live!, Strong Woman Science and the Three Musketeers. Click here for the full family line up.
2. UNDERBELLY W1
The team behind Wonderground are also hosting the Underbelly Festival in Cavendish Square. Hotel Paradiso, crazy circus for ages 5+ runs until 5 August and then there are a series of family shows to choose from, particularly good at the end of August. Click here to browse the family programme.
3. REGENT'S PARK
A radical re-imagining of the Rogers & Hammerstein classic Carousel is the big musical number at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, opening on 31 July and suitable for ages 11+. Click here to listen to the creative team explain their vision - sounds like a goodie!
Little ones (ages 3+) are catered for with Dragons and Mythical Beasts from the team behind Dinosaur Live! and running from 13 August to 5 September.
4. THE GLOBE
The gloriously interactive Telling Tales storytelling festival is back in the intimate, and indoor, setting of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe (so no worries if it pours with rain). Suitable for ages 5–12 and their families, choose from Henry V, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest and Twelfth Night between now and 22 August.
There are also some spaces still available for the Globe Summer School for aspiring actors and academics, running weekly during August for ages 11–19 (and online from ages 8+).
5. LITTLE ANGEL
There are a few tickets left for Nature Elly this weekend. The Smartest Giant in Town (in the Studio) is sold out until the end of the run.
Next month, the theatre is repeating the success of last year's Puppet Picnic and setting up outside in Islington Square, picnics courtesy of Maggie & Rose. The lead show, the magical-sounding The Wishing Tree is sold out throughout its run from 9–29 August (ages 5–11) but a series of visiting companies will be announced next week so you need to be ON IT to book your slot!
A new re-telling of Pinocchio runs alongside one of my all time favourite children' books, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase in rep at Greenwich Theatre from 5 August to 5 September
7. ARTHURIAN LEGEND IN A COVENT GARDEN CHURCHYARD
Iris Theatre's summer festival season takes place outside in the courtyard of St Paul's Churchyard, Covent Garden. Arthur/Merlin runs 4–22 August. Expect an unorthodox, lyrical take on the legend. Ages 6+.
8. PAINES PLOUGH IN BRIXTON
The brilliant Paines Plough theatre company should be premiering new work at the Edinburgh Fringe but this year they have relocated. Their yellow-domed Roundabout space will be in Slade Gardens, Brixton with a new family show Really Big and Really Loud from 19–29 August. Written by Phoebe Eclair-Powell and directed by Katie Posner, it is a story about the importance of finding (with a little help from some animal friends) your voice and how you can use it to make positive change, however old you are. Ages 5+.
9. RE-OPENING IN CHELSEA
The Chelsea Theatre has re-opened - hurrah! and is running a series of shows over the summer as part of the Kensington and Chelsea Festival. We like the sound of In the Secret Garden of Frances Hodgson Burnett on 4 Aug. For older children - she led quite a scandalous life apparently!
10. RUINED THEATRE COMPANY
Prize for the most original outdoor setting goes to Our Teacher's a Troll, running in the magical ruins of Lesnes Abbey, Abbey Wood from 12–22 August. Written by Dennis Kelly (Matilda the Musical), with puppets and live music, discounted tickets are available to families in Greenwich and Bexley. Click here to book.
WE ALSO LIKE THE SOUND OF....
The classic French farce, The Game of Love and Chance gets a 21st century upgrade at Arcola Theatre's new outside space. To 7 Aug.
The Stage in the Park is Watford Palace Theatre's summer outdoor space and has a fab line up including Mr Stink and Sooty.
CBeebies Sarah and Duck Big Top Theatre 17 and 18 August, Leicester Square Theatre
More Donaldson/Scheffler magic as the stage adaptation of Zog from Freckle Productions flies into Rose Theatre Kingston from 4-11 August, and Cadogan Hall from 18-29 August. Ages 3+.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 17–28 August. This adaptation of four of Eric Carle's wonderful picture books is one of the best introductions to live theatre around. All ages.
The Gruffalo Live on Stage 30 July–29 August, Alexandra Palace
Emily Turner, 29 July 2021