Monday, 30 August 2010

Nun like a great night out! : Sister Act Review

Review by Hilary K

London Palladium Sister ActMy 9yr old daughter and I were invited to see Sister Act with Janis, a family friend. Three girls on a night out....and oh boy, what a night! We were completely blown away by the musical. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would be my thing, the film with Whoopi Goldberg is one thing, and I actually quite enjoyed that I must say, but on a West End stage – nah...I wasn’t sure. How totally wrong I was. It was brilliant! The energy, the quality of singing and sheer exuberance of the show quite took my breath away. My daughter was on the edge of her seat, eyes as big as dinner-plates with a totally enraptured expression....singing and clapping and screaming with unabashed enthusiasm....utterly enthralled. If the show was a joy to see, watching my daughters reaction was heartwarmingly magical.

Sister ActWe’d thought we might see Whoopi, but it turned out we went on one of her nights off. The fact she wasn’t there didn’t make a jot of difference though, the extraordinarily talented cast carried the show effortlessly. Landi Oshingowo played the lead Deloris Van Cartier, her voice made the hairs on your arms tingle, she was amazing. Mother Superior was played by Verity Quade (instead of Whoopi, though I’m sure she’d have been amazing, I couldn’t quite get my head around her playing a stuffy, up-tight and anxious head nun! But hey...), Verity nailed it as far as we were concerned. Blinding. Aaran Lee Lambert played the funny guy cop, who finally gets to date Delories in the end, he was superb. The rest of the cast were superlative. Big rousing numbers that lifted the theatre rafters, spangly sets and costumes were a feast to the eye. All in all a fabulous night out for all the family.

Cheap tickets to Sister Act and other hit West End musicals available from:

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Summer Holiday Adventure in an Alien Caterpillar

Great recommendation for summer holiday adventure in the safety of your own garden…

A London dad brought this home from Blacks the other day, and the kids have insisted on sleeping in it ever since. And eating all their meals in it... and sheltering from the rain and telling jokes that only six year olds find funny. It looks like an enormous alien caterpillar, and with all the excitement of torch-light shows and shadow puppets, your bedtime routine will be completely out the window... but it's well worth it. In fact, possibly the best £20 you've ever spent!

Get your own tent in the sale:

There are all sorts of other things in the clearance sale, including some kids shoes and boots for as low as £5. Blacks Clearance Sale >>

London Wetland Centre recruits their 200,000th member!

Congratulations are in order for the WWT London Wetland Centre, who have just recruited the WWT's 200,000th member!

WWT's 200,000th member Rachel Andrew with her family
Company director Rachel Andrew recalls many happy childhood visits to one of WWT's other centres in Washington, Tyne and Wear. She chose to join the Trust after enjoying a day out at London Wetland Centre earlier this year, and in doing so became the charity's 200,000th member.

Rachel said, "We became members of the WWT in order to support the work that they do and to be able to enjoy the centre throughout the year, as it is a fantastic location for wildlife photography. We really enjoyed our day at the centre where we discovered how much work goes on behind the scenes to make the London Wetland Centre such a special place for birds, animals and plants - and for the visitors like us who come to enjoy seeing them."

London Wetland Centre thanked Rachel with a special early visit to the reserve on Monday 23 August before it opened to the public. This was followed by a personal tour of the beautiful Wildside area of the site with Adam Salmon, the Centre's reserve manager, where the family were lucky enough to spot green sandpipers and hear Cetti's warblers singing. General manager Martin Senior presented Rachel and her family with a special hamper of WWT goodies. 

The Wetland centre is a very popular Richmond wildlife reserve and visitor attraction, and has a well deserved 5* rating for family friendliness on our website (click here to read Anne's 5* review). The Centre offers families the chance to explore beautiful wetlands and see wildfowl and other creatures close up, and 60,000 children enjoy educational visits every year. A series of reedbeds, lakes, marshes and pools are home to a stunning variety of water birds, and fascinating animals such as dragonflies, frogs, lizards, newts and water voles. There is also an excellent childrens playground, an Interactive Discovery Centre for children (handy for when it rains!), free family activities every weekend, and regular postnatal buggy fitness classes.

Have you been to the Wetland Centre with your family? We'd love to hear your thoughts - click here to review it now, or leave a comment below.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Family Activities over August Bank Holiday 2010

Here's a little selection of great ways to spend time with your family this Bank Holiday weekend:

• Summer Fun Fair at Alexandra Palace
Open from 12pm-7pm until September 12th, with a variety of rides for children and refreshment stalls for the family, the fun fair is popular with kids of all ages throughout the summer holidays. Free entry, although there is small charge on rides. More info...  |  Alexandra Palace was rated 4* : click here to find out why

Kids Week 2010 (13th August- 3rd September 2010)
Kids Week London includes a full programme of activities and workshops for children. Kids can get theatrical in a series of interactive events, giving them the chance to learn about life on stage. As well as this kids can enjoy free theatre shows and discounted tickets.
Click here for more info and to book tickets

• Notting Hill Carnival Children’s Day (29th August, 9am-8.30pm)
The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the most vibrant events in London, taking place annually in a huge two day party. The first day of the carnival is traditionally Children’s Day, where children and family groups are encouraged to join the party. The day will be packed with costume parades, live music, street performances, play areas etc. Free to attend.  Click here for more info

• Toy Story 3D IMAX (23rd-29th August)
Woody and Buzz Lightyear return for a colourful third instalment of Toy Story, showing at the child friendly BFI IMAX cinema on London's South Bank. Various times and prices.

• Kidsfest 2010 (30th August, 11am-5pm)
A day of fun, exciting and innovative things for kids to participate in. These include great hands-on workshops in art, crafts, pottery, music, drama, dancing, singing, balloon modelling, DJ skills and drumming. There are soft play and story telling areas, kids' archaeological digs, relaxation sessions, rides, face-painting and caricaturing, all taking place at the Colour House Children’s Theatre.

London Aquarium (everyday)
In addition to the hundreds of varieties of fish and sea life from all over the world, the aquarium's Shark Walk allows visitors to walk over a floating glass platform with sharks swimming just below their feet. The newest addition is the Rainforests of the World area, complete with exotic vegetation, a tropical waterfall and a pair of six-foot dwarf crocodiles. An ultimate fun day out for the whole family.

• Diana, Prince of Wales Memorial Playground (May-August 10am-7.45pm daily.)
The design of this large playground next to Kensington Palace is inspired by the stories of Peter Pan. A huge wooden Pirate ship is the centrepiece of the playground, and there is a sensory trail, teepees, toys and play sculptures. Next to the playground is the Broadwalk Cafe and Playcafe. The playground underwent a refurbishment in March 2009 including the creation of some exciting new features and equipment and enhancements to the pirate ship and Mermaid's rock. Admission is to children up to age 12 (and their parents or carers) only. Rated 5* by mums and dads.

Mudchute Park and Farm (9.30pm-4..30pm daily)
There are goats, sheep, pigs, horses, cows, ducks, geese, dogs and even llamas. Activities include animal handling, a nature trail, activities for the family, horse riding lessons and more. You can also join the ducks on their walk from the farmyard to the duckpond in the morning (9 am), and back to the farmyard in the afternoon (4 pm). There is a play area in Milwall Mark, adjacent to Mudchute Park.
Treat yourself to a homemade breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea at the Mudcute Kitchen, set in the courtyard and overlooking the horses. This is not your typical cafe. They use fresh, seasonal ingredients, including produce from their own allotments, and their chefs have trained at the River Cafe, Moro, Lidgate the butcher and the Rivington Bar and Grill. You are also welcome to bring a picnic lunch - there are picnic tables in the courtyard.

• In the Night Garden Live at the O2.
The first staged version of the award-winning BBC children's TV show 'In the Night Garden' provide an opportunity for the capital's pre-school fans of Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy to enjoy the character's antics in a live musical featuring puppets and panoramic projections. For times and prices visit the website Click here to read a review of In the Night Garden Live.

• Toy Tales at the Cartoon Museum (till 5th September 2010)
Bringing together some of the most loved children's animated characters from over the last 50 years. Big kids and genuine children alike will love the exhibition this summer as classics from the past rub shoulders with current stars. Featuring the likes of Bagpuss and Peppa Pig, the show focuses on the timeless appeal of children's cartoons across the ages. Under 18s are free.

- Sam Sanchez

Friday, 20 August 2010

Review of In the Night Garden Live: from Bon Jovi to Iggle Piggle

I’ve been to the O2 twice this year. The first time it was to relive my teens by singing all the words to Living On A Prayer at the top of my lungs and screaming like a schoolgirl whenever Jon Bon Jovi beamed a smile at me at the crowd. Last weekend it was to regress to toddlerdom by singing “Ombliboo Tombliboo, Knock on the Door” and cheering whenever Iggle Piggle tilted his massive bean shaped head at us. Ah what a colourful life parents live.

We were given some tickets to see In the Night Garden Live at Meridian Gardens at London’s 02, and to be honest we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. After all, the TV show is a slightly trippy portrayal of a collection of characters getting ready for bed – it doesn’t sound like the most thrilling thing to see on stage. The children, however, got very excited about the idea of seeing Upsy Daisy in person, so we herded everyone onto the Jubilee Line and off we went.

Purpose-built show dome in London (artist's impression)
Our initial impression was that the show’s producers really know their audience. Rather than trying to cope with the cavernous area that is the O2, they’ve constructed a small purpose built baby friendly dome, with copious room for parking the buggies. From the outside, it looks like an enormous igloo – fitting as the venue for such a surreal show, but inside it feels like a cosy, intimate, and very relaxed space. The informal feel was just right for an outing with toddlers, and not being confined to a numbered seat can do wonders for putting a young child at ease.

Our 3 year old has never really watched the TV show, but amazingly was completely enthralled; her eyes didn’t leave the stage even once. Our 2 year old went back and forth between being completed captivated by the performance and feeling nervous about the larger-than-life projections of toucans on the ceiling.

Makka Pakka armed with soap & sponge
There are two different shows, and the one we saw featured the adorable Makka Pakka toddling around looking for faces to wash. Not the most complex storyline, but it’s true to the TV show, and according to creator Andrew Davenport there is much more to it than simple face washing.

"Often, children don't like having their faces washed," says Davenport. "If you can make a playful version of that, it will defuse the situation, if you like. I thought it was quite funny to have him just come on with a trumpet and interrupt the whole narrative – to make everyone stop and have their faces washed. It seemed quite truthful for a child."
- Secrets of In the Night Garden, Interview with Andrew Davenport, The Guardian

All in all, I must admit I really enjoyed it. The set was beautiful, and I was simply fascinated by the way the characters themselves were brought to life using a very clever combination of skilful puppetry and actors in life-sized costumes. In fact it was done so well that it was very easy to forget that the characters weren’t real, and I found myself wanting to go and give Makka Pakka a big cuddle. There is also some very soothing in watching these magical creatures ambling about being nice to each other, and that’s a great vibe to experience with your children.

In the Night Garden Live is a wonderful escape, and a lovely way to enjoy some time with your little ones. Go see it while you can!

PS - If you have a minute, go have a read of this lovely review by Holly at It's a Mummy's Life: "In the, franky, surreal Night Garden".

In the Night Garden Live is recommended for toddlers and preschoolers. Tickets for performances in London, Birmingham and Glasgow are available on the official Night Garden website:

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Toy Story Playland - Now Open!

Planning a short trip to Paris? We're very excited about the grand opening of the new Toy Story Playland, and are sure you will be too. Have a read of the press release below, and also check out this great round-up of child friendly places to go in Paris by French magazine The Smallers.

Today guests will feel as though they've been shrunk to the size of toys as they embark on family-friendly adventures with Buzz Lightyear, Slinky Dog, the Green Army Men, RC Racer and the rest of the gang from the Disney·Pixar Toy Story films in the all-new Toy Story Playland at Disneyland Paris.

Dwarfed by giant blades of grass and oversized toys, guests can descend 27 meters on a simulated parachute drop, race round-and-round on a zany coaster and zoom through a 25-meter half-pipe Hot Wheels® track aboard a remote control car.

They're all part of a new outdoor play area inspired by the backyard where Andy, the boy from Toy Story, took his toys to play—except here guests will feel as if they're the same size as the toys. "When you are in this land, nothing is human scale and everything is made of toys," Chrissie Allen, senior show producer, Walt Disney Imagineering, says. Benches are fashioned from Lincoln Logs®, a wall is constructed of dominoes and a four-meter-tall Buzz Lightyear action figure greets visitors at one of the entrances. Strewn along the wide walkway are giant Tinkertoys®, Lincoln Logs®, a ball and jacks, children's blocks, a balsa wood plane and other nostalgic playthings, lit at night by oversized holiday lights. Andy's enormous but subtle footprints are found in the walkway, reinforcing the notion of scale.

To help create the sense that guests have shrunk to the size of toys, Disney Imagineers took advantage of a more than 100-year-old forest that edges the play area. The trees, many more than 30 meters in height, tower over Toy Story Playland.

"The landscape naturally reinforces the sense of being immersed in this play world," Chrissie says. "The new land is planted with beautiful stands of 9-meter-tall bamboo which encloses the land and seals us into our new toy world." The "grass" is actually tightly planted New Zealand flax that mimics a manicured lawn. There are two entrances. At the main entry is the giant Buzz Lightyear action figure standing proudly on a pile of blocks. At the second entrance at the other end of the land, monkeys from a giant blue Barrel of Monkeys® welcome guests with letters from a Scrabble game.

Press release from Disneyland® Paris.
All images are property of
Disneyland® Paris.

Don't miss:
Disneyland Paris is offering 40% off, and kids under 7 stay and play free. Click the enormous banner at the top of the page for more info and to book tickets.

Getting to Paris:

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Railway Children Live at Waterloo : Review

By Liz Jarvis from LivingwithKids (

Of course we’ve read the book and seen the film, but we were intrigued to see how a play would be able to convey the magic of E.Nesbit’s The Railway Children, given that much of the action takes place at railway station, and does of course includes several trains.

It soon became apparent that although the play is being performed at the old Eurostar station at Waterloo (they’ve converted one of the old platforms into a theatre), much of the locomotive action takes place on the cleverly constructed stage – giant wooden blocks.

Not that it mattered, as we quickly became caught up with the lives of Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis.

I’d forgotten how moving the story is, and actually it’s surprisingly modern and relevant, particularly as it deals with a family living in reduced circumstances and learning they can have ‘butter or jam, but not both’.

Nothing was missed out, including the landslide/red bloomers incident, the Old Gentleman coming to the rescue of the children’s mother, and her decision to shelter a Russian refugee. The performances are brilliant and there are a few familiar faces, including the wonderful Marshall Lancaster (Chris from Ashes to Ashes) as Mr Perks.

But one of the most magical moments has to be when a real live steam train pulls into the middle of the stage. All you could hear at that point were gasps of amazement around the auditorium. I was in tears.

*The Railway Children has been made possible with the support of Welcome To Yorkshire (and it certainly made me want to go there). It runs until 4 September and is selling out fast. Recommended for children ages six and up.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Mind Candy, Eye Candy and just plain Candy : Inside the Moshi Monsters game

Along with some other parent bloggers, I was invited to meet the team at Mind Candy at their office in Battersea Studios to find out more about the Moshi Monsters game. The idea was that we’d get to meet Mr Moshi himself (Michael Acton Smith, the CEO) and generally schmooze while our kids played the game.

Now I should explain something – I’m something of a geek. I secretly* love the fact that my university transcript includes courses like “Mathematical Methods for Quantum Chemists” and that I know how to put firefly genes into a house plant. I also have an unhealthy addiction to games and puzzles; I spent the first half of my life looking like I had stigmata from the joystick blisters and was once known throughout Walthamstow as the unbeatable Eddie Gordo.
* erm.. I guess it’s not so secret anymore.

clever person (aka Michael)
So… to me this was not some generic “mummy blogger event”, but an opportunity to meet some very clever people who’ve used their love of games, understanding of social networks, and their creativity and business smarts to create something truly exciting. I gave the PR types an unreserved “yes”, and set off to borrow a child.

The Borrowed Child and the Child at Heart

No, this is not one of those “persona” blogs, and yes I do have children. However, at ages 2 and 3 they aren’t exactly Moshi Monster material, so I needed to find a child to borrow for the day. This proved to be an incredibly easy task: my favourite little boy, M, nearly burst with excitement when I invited him, and immediately produced a print-out of his monster. His dad, Dino Burbidge, was at this point hopping up and down shouting “Take me! Take me!”, so obviously I obliged. The fact that he is Creative Director of Kids and Family specialist digital agency Digital Outlook, a big kid at heart, a bit dishy, and the smartest person I know had absolutely nothing to do with me bringing him along.

Mind Candy

The boys at Mind Candy didn’t disappoint. Michael Acton Smith and Chief Marketing Officer Ed Relf were both so clearly passionate about the game and the business, and that vibe seemed to carry through the whole team. When we walked into the office itself, a shared space with about 35 staff, it was like stepping back onto the floor of our dot-com startup in Shoreditch ten years ago.

The Moshi Monsters Team having a laugh
Those were the best days of my life (apologies for the random Bryan Adams quote – I can’t help it, I’m Canadian) – the buzz of being part of a young and tight-knit team, knowing that we were on the cusp of something big, truly passionate about every little detail of the business we were creating, bursting with laughter over an intense game of foosball in the break-out room, and that feeling that London was ours and ours alone. With the recession and the dreariness of cutback after cutback, I never thought I would see that again. But there I was, stepping back into that world, and with it a feeling that anything is possible.What a rush.

The game itself is such a brilliantly simple idea. Kids can adopt a pet monster, give it a name, and keep it happy. So far it sounds like the online version of a hamster, or a high tech tamagotchi, but this is only the beginning. The monsters live in a colourful and captivating virtual world, with plenty to explore and opportunities for the kids to really express their personalities.
Keeping a little monster happy by playing games that develop hand-eye coordination

Monsters can earn Rox (the local currency) by solving puzzles, and can spend their Rox on treats and toys for their monster, and weird and wonderful things to display in their virtual room. The game also features safe, well designed and carefully moderated social networking features, where monsters can interact with their friends.

colourful Moshi Monsters virtual world
What’s it like for the kids? The easy answer to that is to tell you that 25 million children around the world play Moshi Monsters, and a new child adopts a monster every second. Fairly impressive, to say the least, but here’s the real scoop: every child I’ve mentioned it to lights up and tells me about their monster, and about their favourite bit of the virtual world (the garden is a definite winner) – and that tells me everything I need to know.
growing rare plants in the garden

And for the parents? Every day, there are fun but challenging puzzles and games for your child to solve, covering everything from spatial skills and arithmetic to vocabulary building, geography, and even being able to recognise the flags from different countries around the world. They enjoy playing the games, and receive immediate virtual rewards when they solve the puzzles correctly – what better way to learn? Michael dubs it “education by stealth”, and told us of primary school teachers who use Moshi Monsters as a fun and effective way to help the children develop skills in everything from problem solving and vocabulary to creative expression. You can read about it here.

Diavlo playing one of the many daily puzzles

As a parent, it’s also incredibly reassuring to know that Mind Candy takes our children’s safety seriously. The social networking features allow the kids to interact with each other through a carefully moderated public “pin board” in the virtual world. There is no private messaging, and there are pro-active measures in place to prevent cyberbullying and inappropriate conduct. Parents are also invited to adopt their own monster and experience the world for themselves.

Eye Candy

I’ve always been a big fan of good design and illustration, and am always amazed when I can see a few curved lines suddenly take shape. Even more so when a tiny little pencil mark in the right place gives a two dimensional creature a little glint in his eye, and a cheeky little personality. During our tour of Mind Candy, we had a sneak peek at some original sketches and Top Secret designs for new monsters – eye candy indeed!

Illustrator and Concept Artist Trevor gave us – and the marketing team - a crash course in how to draw this little monster:

I was pleased to discover my hitherto hidden talent for illustration…

immediately put into perspective when I saw this masterpiece by Dino’s six year old son:

Sadly UrbanVox’s talent remains hidden:

And just plain candy

Aside from some amazing goody bags and these cute Moshi Monster cupcakes, in true dot-com style there are quirky little features around the place, including a large plexiglass box full of jellybeans. Unsurprisingly, nobody but Michael knows precisely how many there are inside, and there is bound to be a puzzle involved rather than a straightforward calculation. I’ve worked out my answer (I’m not telling you!!) and am hoping that if I’m right it’ll unlock the next level.

There are no doubt exciting times ahead for Mind Candy, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the top secret plans for Moshi Monsters come to fruition. In the meantime, I think I’ll go and adopt a little monster myself.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

It’s a kinda magic : Review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice

By Liz Jarvis from LivingWithKids (

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be another magician to rival Harry Potter and his broomstick along comes Dave Stutler. He may be shy and geeky, but Dave (played by the fabulous Jay Baruchel) is the eponymous hero of Disney’s fantastic new family adventure The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

We first meet Dave as a slightly less shy and geeky kid, who is desperate to get the girl but ends up in every schoolboy’s worst nightmare. That leads him to Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), a master sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan trying to defend the city from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina).

They meet again some years later – but now Balthazar wants Dave to help him destroy the bad magic and release his true love from captivity. But first, Dave needs to learn how to be a wizard. Queue some hilarious magic lessons (including a brilliant version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequence from Fantasia involving LOTS of mops), some romance (will Dave get the girl at last?) and a few genuinely scary scenes.

My family loved The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The acting is first rate, the special effects are astonishing, the plot keeps you guessing and along with Toy Story 3 I’d say it’s one of the best family films on release this summer.

*Recommended for children aged eight and up

Monday, 9 August 2010

Are you creating Road Rage Kids?

Road Rage boy
Are you creating mini road ragers? As parents of little ones, we often find ourselves trying desperately to get somewhere quickly – whether it’s to be on time for a swimming lesson, or just because the kids are bored in the back seat and driving you mad. The too-chirpy children’s music is getting on your nerves, the baby is grizzling, and wouldn’t you believe it – you’re cut off by some Sunday Driver who’s not even paying attention to where he’s going.

So what do you do?

I’m the least road-ragey person there is and usually just hang out and sing along with the children’s CD. I’m not the most confident driver, and I can’t parallel park to save my life, but I respect the road and the people on it. It’s not the end of the world if I arrive at my destination 30 seconds later because someone cut in front of me.  My friend G on the other hand prefers to drive closer and closer to the offending driver until he’s nearly on their bumper, and my friend D gets pretty creative with his use of colourful language. My friend S has been known to slam the brakes and get out of her car. With toddlers sitting innocently in the back seat, taking it all in.

It’s bad enough that the kids are learning some pretty awful behaviour, but I can’t bear the thought of what would happen if the driver in front played the same game and slammed on the brakes, or jumped out of the car too. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who thinks road rage is irresponsible and potentially dangerous, especially for those of us with little ones who rely on us for their safety.

With these scenarios in mind, the people over at AXA Car Insurance are running a campaign called AXA Respect on the Road. Have a read of our favourite bits below, and get involved by liking their Facebook fan page (, and sending in your photos or stories.

Our favourite bits:
Mind the Beep : Vote for your favourite horn
Hats Off: Does wearing a Trillby or sombrero actually affect your driving skills? And can men wearing tweed caps park properly?  Read more...
and of course the funny (but pretty disturbing) Road Rage Kids video:

You might also be interested in the Cab Cam series (below) and the other Respect the Road videos on You Tube:

Help bring a little courtesy back to our roads!
x Janis & the Really Kid Friendly family

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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Free tickets to The Lion King : Kids Week in the West End

As part of Kids Week in the West End, there will be some fun family activities (for ages 5+) learning about the fabulous masks and costumes for The Lion King, on Wednesday August 18th and Wednesday August 25th. As with all the Kids Week shows, you can also get free tickets for under 16s to any of the performances.

Check the Kids Week website for availability and book online before they sell out.

About the show:

Set against the majesty of the Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney's multi-award winning musical, The Lion King, will redefine your expectations of theatre. A spectacular visual feast, this adaptation of Disney's much-loved film transports audiences to a dazzling world that explodes with glorious colours, stunning effects and enchanting music. At its heart is the powerful and moving story of Simba - the epic adventure of his journey from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pridelands.
Experience for yourself this 'astonishing triumph of theatrical imagination'  - Evening Standard

OFFER: A child aged 5-16 can go free to these performances when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Please check the age suitability of the show before booking.

This offer is subject to availability, cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts and does not apply to tickets previously purchased.

Free tickets to Oliver! : Kids Week in the West End

As part of Kids Week in the West End, there will be some fun family activities (ages 5+) for Oliver! the hit musical, on Wednesday August 18th and Wednesday August 25th. As with all the Kids Week shows, you can also get free tickets for under 16s.

Check the Kids Week website for availability and book online before they sell out.

About the show:
Now in its second record-breaking year, Oliver! is one of the most beloved British musicals, vividly bringing to life Dickens' timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more.
Russ Abbot, one of the most popular entertainers in Britain starts as Fagin alongside Kerry Ellis as Nancy and Steven Hartley as Bill Sikes. Russ is no stranger to Oliver! having played the role of Fagin at the Palladium, Theatre Royal and on tour!

With a cast and orchestra of over 100, the sensational score is full of Lionel Bart's irresistible songs including Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You've Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two, I'd Do Anything, Oom Pah Pah, As Long As He Needs Me and many more.

OFFER: A child aged 5-16 can go free to these performances when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Check the Kids Week website for availability and book online before they sell out.

This offer is subject to availability, cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts and does not apply to tickets previously purchased.

Room on the Broom soars to Kids Week 2010 in the West End

One of our favourite picture books of all time, Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler's Room on the Broom comes to life with a stage show this August and is soaring to the West End.

Like most of the picture books by this talented duo, Room on the Broom has been a big hit with under 5s, with its wonderfully expressive use of language and rhyme, and little phrases the kids are compelled to shout out (...and WHOOSH!! they were gone...). We have high expectations for the live show and are sure it won't disappoint!

Catch the live show from Friday 13th August to Sunday 29th August 2010, and a special Q&A with the cast on Thursday August 19th. Ticket prices start from £9, and kids under 16 go free.

Click here for more info about Kids Week & to book tickets

Disclosure: We get 50p for every ticket you buy through the link above. We don't use it to buy ice cream and pom-bears. It goes straight back into to help develop a nice little free resource for new mums and dads. So buy lots, and tell all your friends to do the same!  

Friday, 6 August 2010

Kids Week in London's West End!

Wouldn't you love to have activities and free tickets to top London shows in the West End? We thought so. During Kids Week (13 August - 3 September), any child aged 5 - 16 years old can go free to any participating show, when accompanied by an adult paying full price. You can also purchase up to two extra children's tickets at half price.

The shows' producers have also organised special free activities linked to the shows. Tickets always sell out, so you'll have to be quick.

Click here for more details

We'll add a little video taster from some of the top shows over the next few days, so watch this space!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

If you go Into the Hoods today... : Review of ZooNation's high energy family friendly show

High energy, exciting and utterly mesmerising - there is no other way to describe "Into the Hoods : A London Fairytale", Zoonation's award-winning show.

Photo credit: Bill Cooper
A hip-hop adaptation of Into the Woods, the story weaves together the Brothers Grimm fairy tales with an edgy twist, set in a gritty London tower block. It begins with two children (adorable Lauren Halil and the unbelievably talented Akai Osei) who run away but find themselves lost in "the hood" (Ruff Endz Estate). The Landlord (Frank Wilson) promises them a safe journey home - but only on condition that they find just the right gifts for his daughter's 18th birthday: an iPod as white as milk, a hoodie as red as blood, weave as yellow as corn, and nike trainers as pure as gold.

The kids dance their way through the Hood, slyly appropriating each of the things they need to satisfy the Landlord's wishes. Along the way, we meet DJ Spinderella who is desperate to DJ at the ball, lady's man Prince who is two-timing Spinderella with MC Rap-on-Zel, and singer Lil Red who has been tricked into signing a record deal with Wolf, the manager of Big Teef Records. In the basement, there is (of course) Jaxx, a music producer who gets into some dodgy dealings in an attempt to avoid eviction, and finds himself in trouble with Giant.

Taking us through their London fairy tale, these larger-than-life personalities explode onto the stage with such energy that it is impossible to look away. The choreography - street dance and breakdancing, peppered with nods to jive and even modern ballet - is just brilliant. Some of the routines weren't as smooth as we've seen from ZooNation in the past, but on the whole they are tight, skillful, innovative and slick. DJ Spinderella (Sarah Richards) was sensational - doesn't every girl wish she could move like that! - and when Fairy Gee (Annie Edwards) burst into dance it was an absolute joy to watch. Ugly Stepmother (Rowen Hawkins) is laugh-out-loud funny, and performs some mindblowing breakdance moves, including some hand hops that look physically impossible. We're willing to bet that every girl in the audience (MumVersusKids included) fell in love with Prince (Roger Davies), whose infectious smile, boyish charm and enthusiastic renditions of our favourite old skool hip hop tracks hooked us from the first moment he stepped on stage. The highlight of the show by far is a Matrix-style fight between Jaxx (Ross Sands) and Giant (Jeff Felicisimo), complete with a rewind and hilarious slow-motion replay.

We had a brilliant time, and would go back and see it again and again. No doubt everyone else in the audience felt the same - the ZooNation dancers got a well deserved standing ovation, the hallways afterwards echoed with the excited shrieks of teenage girls, and MumVersusKids found herself hugging Prince after the show and telling him he was "totally amazing" like some starstruck groupie. Highly recommended.

Where:  Southbank Centre in London.
When:   30 July - 15 August 2010
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Suitability: Great for big kids, families, and everyone else who loves fun, energetic and skilful stage performance. Not recommended for under 5s.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

In the Night Garden Live Competition - The lucky winner is....

Last week we asked you to tell us the colour of Iggle Piggle's blanket for a chance to win tickets to In the Night Garden Live. The answer was (of course) "Red", and 99% of you got it right...

We've chosen a name at random from the correct answers, and a set of tickets is now on its way to Alan S and his family. A big thank you to everyone who took part, and especially to  

  • @lisanorfolk for the most amazing lightning quick reflexes - her correct answer came within seconds
  • @erinehm for the most excited tweet about it (you could almost hear her jumping up and down)
  • @cohare28 for somehow managing to sing the Iggle Piggle song on Twitter
  • @ldn for telling loads (and loads and loads) of mums and dads all over London about our competition

If you haven't already signed up to our newsletter, please take a minute to do it now ( ) and you'll be among the first to know about our next competition!