Taking kids to the theatre for the first time is always a nervous time. In my experience every child is different so you can never actually judge when they are the right age to have their first theatre visit – not very helpful I know….
But my experience at Theatre Severn on Sunday made me realise it can also make a difference what type of child’s show you go and see.
We paid a family outing to the Shrewsbury theatre to watch Dear Santa, the stage production of Dear Zoo author Rod Campbell’s Dear Santa book.
And it was by far the best family experience I have had at Christmas since my children have been born by far.
Big statement I know, but when you are a parent there are different things that constitute the ‘best family experience’ and our weekend theatre trip really worked for me.
The show tells the story of Santa trying to find the right present to send to a little girl and, like the book, they go through a number of different presents that are too big, too small, too noisy etc before finding the one that is ‘just right’.
It was in the Walker Theatre, which is smaller than the main one and felt much more comfortable with a two year old amongst us. There were technical difficulties which meant we had to queue for a few minutes outside but that didn’t cause us a problem (although there were some impatient children causing parents a few issues!).
Because the seats are so well-tiered the kids could see everything even without a booster seat and the stage was so well laid out and lit even from the back row we could see what was going on perfectly.
The show had three characters, an elf, Santa and little girl Sarah, who were played brilliantly by Gary Jerry, Peter Edbrook and Lindsay Harding – they knew their audience and they were just fantastic to watch (at any age), staying in complete character until the very last child was out the door.
It was simple enough for my two-year-old to join in – shouting out bauble colours and present names and joining in with songs such as jingle bells but also not so simple as to be boring for my nearly five-year-old who was helping to blow the kite and catch the bouncy ball when it bounced into the crowd.
It was short with no interval (when young children often think it is all over anyway) and done in a way that adults could follow the story and enjoy too.
And as an added bonus, at the end every single child got to meet the cast, have their pictures taken and were given a goodie bag to take away with them.
We smiled from beginning to end and watching both children take part, and really enjoy, a theatre performance in that way was wonderful.
My four-year-old has had a couple of visits to the bigger performances at Theatre Severn and loved them but this show was the perfect introduction for my little one, who found his first bigger production (tagging along with his big brother) a bit intimidating.
Dear Santa was definitely the best Christmas experience of 2015 for me. Thank you Evolution Productions and Theatre Severn – and Merry Christmas!
Dear Santa is showing until Saturday December 26th.
To find out what is coming up for children in 2016 for youngsters at Theatre Severn go to http://www.theatresevern.co.uk/