Located on the edge of London and Surrey, Kingston-upon-Thames is a lovely place to live. It is also a lovely place to visit. And if you live nearby, why not give central London a miss and visit one of the many fun attractions?
Husband and I recently had a child-free day, so of course we went into central London. And as always, we packed in as much as possible. First dim sum, then The Wallace Collection, followed by an early dinner and a play in London's West End. We had done some research online the night before and had narrowed it down to three possible plays. The next day we popped into Leicester Square and bought some last-minute tickets at one of the booths there. We were happy that we managed to get stall tickets for our first choice - Nell Gwynn.
Last weekend I took the kids to watch Mr Popper's Penguins at The Rose Theatre Kingston. My in-laws had been babysitting the previous day so I invited them along and we made it into a family day out. I am always so proud to take guests to the Rose Theatre. It is a lovely theatre with great productions. Kingston is so lucky to have such a gem.
The live show of Mr Popper's Penguins is based on a novel (I haven't seen the film so not sure if it is based on the same novel - I assume so). Mr Popper is a painter/decorator who has a nice but boring life. He dreams of exploring Antarctica and seeing polar bears and penguins. Then one day a real-life penguin arrives at his door. We see how his and Mrs Popper's lives change as they start taking care of a penguin (and then many penguins). So, there weren't real penguins. But puppet penguins controlled by the actors. Still cute, and probably more easily controlled than real penguins. Probably.
A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite Christmas stories. It is about more than just being kind and showing compassion to others, it addresses the importance of giving to those less fortunate than us (an important subject for its author Charles Dickens). It is a beautiful, heart-warming story of redemption and charity. And if it is done correctly, it makes me cry. Last Friday, I was moved to tears watching A Christmas Carol at The Rose Theatre Kingston.
I'm not going to go into the story. If you don't know what it's about, then you have real problems you need to sort out. Ciaran McConville adapted and directed this production. And it is simply beautiful. The acting is superb. Martin Ball is the perfect Scrooge. I throughly enjoyed Paul Hawkyard as the Ghost of Christmas Present (and Fezziwig and Charity Gent). And the Rose Youth Group are outstanding. The show cleverly uses music, lighting and projections to make you feel like you are right there in a dream with Scrooge on his life-changing journey.
I went to A Christmas Carol with a friend and our two daughters (who are also friends). We all enjoyed the show, though my daughter did get scared when she saw the ghost of Jacob Marley. Moozles was fine after some reassurance and hand-holding. But I think most children seven and older would be fine to watch this play.
We count ourselves very lucky to live in close proximity to the Rose Theatre Kingston and to be able to watch family shows there quite often. The Rose puts on top-notch shows that you would expect to see in the West End (some do go on there, and some West End shows come here). The theatre itself is based upon the original Elizabethan Rose Theatre, with circular seating and an open/thrust stage to make every show feel intimate.
A Christmas Carol runs at the Rose Theatre Kingston until the 3rd January 2016. Don't be a scrooge and book your tickets before it is sold out. You won't regret it.
Photo credit: all photos of the show by Mark Douet
We were invited to the press preview of A Christmas Carol for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Once or twice a year I take my daughter on a Mummy-Daughter Day to see a show in the West End and go out for lunch or dinner. Next month we will be going to see Hetty Feather.
If you are a fan of Jacqueline Wilson, then you might be familiar with this book. There's also a CBBC adaptation of the book (we haven't watched it but I've just put it on series link). But nothing beats seeing a show live on stage.
Hetty Feather is the story of an orphan girl living in Victorian London. Hetty sneaks away from Foundling Hospital one day to see the circus, and to try and find her family. Hetty is an adventurous and resourceful girl who has many adventures before finding her mother.
Hetty Feather is playing at The Duke of York's theatre from 6th August until the 6th September (tickets range from £15 to £50). Click here to book your tickets. If you're not near London, then you can catch the live show at various theatres around the UK.
*Photo Credit: Donald Cooper
We have been given tickets for this show in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Yesterday I took Moozles and a friend to see I Believe in Unicorns at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. It is a one-woman show, starring Danyah Miller. She weaves a story, based on a boy called Tomas who hates reading but comes to love books. Tomas eventually unites the town to save many of the books when the library is set on fire. Danyah uses the stacks of books on stage as props, and they transform a simple set into a bit of magic.
Danyah is a wonderful storyteller. Besides telling the story, she incorporated the audience which made it extremely lively. Both the children and the adults were taking part, enjoying the story and laughing out loud. My favourite moments, which were a lot, were when the books became active props. Rather that just laying on stage, she pulled tissues out of them, pulled out a kite, turned them into houses and projected images upon them.
My daughter and her friend, both aged six, loved the play. The play is aimed for children aged 5-11, but I think that younger children would enjoy it. And since it runs for 57 minutes, you do not need a long attention span to be able to enjoy the show. Also, it is really nice to watch a show that doesn't include cartoons or princesses.
I Believe in Unicorns is playing at The Vaudeville Theatre until the 31st August 2014, with tickets selling at around £17.50. It will then be showing throughout the UK until December 2014.