There’s so much to do in and around Tooting but sometimes you might want to head further afield and explore some toddler-specific arts, which can be such a wonderful shared experience with your little ones. The following are either specific Children’s Theatres or ones that regularly do child-appropriate performances. Check their website for details of current shows and sign up to their mailing list for regular updates.
On our doorstep in Wimbledon, and one of the few theatres in the UK dedicated to producing and presenting work for young audiences. Each play comes with an age guideline so you can judge which shows are right for your child. It has two theatre spaces, the Main Theatre, and the Adventure Theatre which is designed especially for younger children to give them their first taste of theatre.
Shows cater for children as young as 9 months, and they also put on ‘Relaxed’ performances for children on the autistic spectrum or who have sensory sensitivities.
The building has a friendly café and small indoor and outdoor play areas which can be used even if you’re not attending a show.
www.polkatheatre.com, 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon (57 or 219 bus from Tooting stop outside)
Another dedicated youth theatre, this time on the South Bank. They cater for slightly older audiences as well, and put on a large number of plays and experiences each season.
On Saturdays they run Up Club, 12- 2pm for free drop in activities (portrait painting, giant jenga). These are often themed around the current show.
Once again, it has a café and small soft play area to entertain children before the show starts.
www.unicorntheatre.com 142 Tooley Street, SE1 2HZ
Bach To Baby
Classical music concerts specifically designed for tots. Weekly concerts in a variety of venues around Balham, Earlsfield, Clapham and Southfields with a changing monthly programme featuring professional musicians performing a programme tailored specifically for children. Every concert closes with nursery rhymes, and often a chance to touch or play the instrument in question that month. Coffee and snacks available. £12 per adult (£11 in advance), children free.
Monthly show-tunes concerts for children, performed by experience West End performers, in Balham and Wimbledon. £10 per adult, children free.
A touring theatre with no permanent base. They specialise in shows for particularly young children and those with sensory and special needs.
From December to January 2016 they will be peforming “Land of Lights” at the ArtsDepot in London.
South Bank Centre
A multi-faceted arts venue that makes maximum use of its huge space with a range of performances and experiences, many of which are suitable for children. Highlights include the bi-annual “Funharmonics” which they run with the London Philharmonic Orchestra where children can try out different instruments, learn excerpts of classical pieces in interactive workshops, and then hear them performed live by the orchestra; specific activities during each school holiday; and regular classes such as Gamelan workshops (Indonesian percussion).
The central London arm of Sadlers Wells often puts on child-specific dance shows. Current season includes The Snowman ballet, and Sleeping Beauty, staged as a “my First Baellet” accessible performance for young children. Attendance dressed as a Princess or Prince is welcome!
Leicester Square Theatre
Not child specific but a small intimate space that works well for children. Christmas 2015 they are putting on Stick Man, and over the summer ran a fantastic performance of other Julia Donaldson books.
They don’t often do children’s shows, but from mid November 2015 will be staging “I want my hat back” suitable for ages 3+.
The Colour House Theatre
Located at Merton Abbey Mills, opposite Eddie Katz in Colliers Wood. Fun and charming performances in an intimate theatre space. Tube: Colliers Wood. Buses include 57 or 219 from Tooting Broadway.
Last Night of the Prams – we started this local arts blog in 2013 but updates have been sporadic. Let us know if you’d like to write a blog post review of a performance or similar!