Room on the Broom at Christmas

Last Christmas, we took Thomas to the theatre for the very first time. We saw a production at The Unicorn Theatre entitled “The Night Before Christmas” which was based around the well-known verse. It was perfectly pitched for his age, and became the first of several theatre trips this year. But sadly, when it came to seeing what the Unicorn had to offer this season, there wasn’t really anything aimed quite at his age group and interest level, which led to us looking elsewhere for a Christmas theatre trip.

We considered Pantomine, obviously. And whilst Thomas loves the theatre and I think would have no trouble sitting through a Panto – and even enjoying it – I just felt that we might be better saving this British institution for another year, until he was even better able to get in to it. We also considered the West-End production of “The Snowman” and Thomas was completely obsessed with the television version last year (I think we watched it every day for a month!). It turns out he still loves it this year, but the stage show is incredibly expensive – it would have cost well over £100 for the three of us to go. I don’t mind splashing out for great theatre (and by all accounts the show is good) but I didn’t want to gamble that much money on Thomas completely enjoying it. he can still be unpredictable in what entertains or scares him!

So in the end we settled on “Room on the Broom” – a Julia Donaldson favourite around here. Granted it’s not an especially festive tale, but this was more about having some special family time to look forward to in the run up to Christmas itself than being purely related to the season. The tickets were also raesonably priced and there were both morning and early afternoon times to choose from.

It turned out that we had chosen a day that was to bring beautiful weather to London. Clear, crisp and incredibly bright, with that low winter sun that seems to give everything added sparkle. We headed up a little early and went to see the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, before taking a wander across Leicester Square and up to the Lyric theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.

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It’s fair to say that the show did not disappoint. I’m always intrigued about how relatively short children’s books will be adapted in to a longer show, and how faithful they will be to the original text. In this case there is some additional scene setting and plenty of singing that does not use verse from the original book, but it is completely recognisable. There is a great amount of repetition for younger viewers too, and Thomas stayed absolutely engaged throughout the just-over-an-hour show.I was slightly concerned that he may find the dragon scary, but I needn’t have worried at all.

This is the first Julia Donaldson inspired stage production that we’ve seen, although I know there are many others out there. I’d definitely recommend it as a great introduction to theatre if you have a Donaldson fan!

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Following the morning show, we walked back across London, enjoying the beautiful weather. Thomas wanted to cross the Hungerford Bridge (is it still even called that?!) to see the trains on their way in to Charing Cross, which made his day. We then made our way over to the Southbank Christmas market and ended up having lunch in Wagamama. (Given how fussy an eater Thomas is, this is an odd one, but Wagamama, along with Pizza Express, is one place that he absolutely guaranteed to love). Our celebrity spot of the day in here was Russel Brand!

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The market itself was very busy, but there was plenty on offer. We didn’t end up spending long as Thomas was pretty tired, and we had already had plenty of Christmas market experience in Brussels.

It was a lovely family day out though, and the tradition of seeing a theatre show in the run up to Christmas is now well and truly cemented!

And Thomas… fell asleep on the train home!

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