Flying carpets, giraffe puppets and video projections will capture children’s imaginations, says Sarah Riches
Matilda The Musical
Directed by Matthew Warchus, Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre is based on Roald Dahl’s children’s story about Matilda, a precocious girl who’s mistreated by her parents. Every child has a teacher they don’t like and even as adults we can remember one that put the fear of God into us. But none are as terrifying as the dreaded Miss Trunchbull (Hayden Tee). Luckily for Matilda, she has her teacher Miss Honey (Gina Beck) on her side and an unusual power she uses to enact revenge. Composer and lyricist Tim Minchin is behind the songs, which include the catchy tune When I Grow Up, performed by the cast’s children as they sway above the audience on swings. It’s one of the show’s most memorable scenes, and one which resulted in Rob Howell winning an Olivier Award for best set design. Watch the cast climbing on alphabet blocks and over school gates, and you’ll soon understand why. matildathemusical.com
Cambridge Theatre, 32-34 Earlham St, WC2H 9HU
The Lion King
Follow Simba, an innocent lion cub, as he grows into his role as king of his pride in the African desert. Fast and colourful, this musical comes alive with incredible masks, face paint and dancing. Since the show opened at the Lyceum in 1999, it has wowed more than 80 million people worldwide with hits such as Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Nicholas Afoa, an ex-New Zealand rugby player, is Simba. He says: ‘Music is a huge part of Samoan culture. When I was cast, the directors said: "Bring your culture to the role and be you."
Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington St, WC2E 7RQ
Forget the red carpet – see stars on a flying carpet in the Disney musical Aladdin at Prince Edward Theatre. As in the 1992 animation, the show follows Aladdin, a street boy who frees a genie from a lamp before finding his wishes can come true. But then he realises that evil forces have other plans for the lamp – and Princess Jasmine – unless he can save her. Choreographer and director Casey Nicholaw says: ‘Fans of the film experience the spirit and songs they love, with a bunch of new ones. There are magic moments, including the magic carpet ride.’ Sing along to A Whole New World and Friend Like Me, and watch sword throwers, belly dancers and fireworks.
Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton St, W1d 4HS
You know the story of the Wizard of Oz, but have you ever wondered what made the Wicked Witch of the West wicked? This musical takes you back in time to a sorcery school where the popular, blonde Glinda (Sophie Evans) strikes up an unlikely friendship with the dowdy Elphaba (Alice Fearn), who is singled out because her skin is green. Now in its 10th year, Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre has won many gongs including Olivier, Grammy and Tony Awards. When you watch it, you’ll see why, as it has elaborate costumes, set designs and jokes the whole family can appreciate – such as the comical tune, Popular, sung by Glinda as she gives her pal an unwanted makeover. But the highlight is the Wicked Witch belting out Defying Gravity from the rafters.
Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wilton Rd, SW1V 1LG
Immerse yourselves in the world of Harry Potter. Find out how to get last minute tickets to Warner Bros. Studio Tour here.