Since being a child, I have loved the theatre. We didn’t really go when I was growing up, but I remember absolutely loving the idea. I’ve always loved musicals in particular, having spent much of my childhood learning every single word to all of the songs in The Sound of Music, Carousel, Oklahoma and many more. I studied drama at GCSE and A Level and actually moved to London with the intention of auditioning for drama school.
That didn’t pan out for many reasons, but since being down here (twelve years now!) I have seen a lot of theatre. I’ve worked at a few theatres. It’s part of London for me, with the West End being one of my favourite places in my city. Aiden and I met for the first time at a theatre and a few years back we had a successful theatre blog and were reviewing shows three or four times a week. You can see why that wasn’t sustainable with us having two full time jobs as well!
Even though I’ve never managed to make a full time job out of my love for all things theatrical, I still love to visit a show. Obviously, we do it a lot less now that Eden is around. Purely because a lot of shows just simply aren’t suitable for her. But also because ticket prices have become almost prohibitive for a lot of shows – especially the big ticket ones such as Mary Poppins or The Lion King. We’ve all been desperate to see Mary Poppins, but with decent tickets costing over a hundred pounds, it’s not something that we are going to be doing any time soon.
We first took Eden to the theatre when she was two and a half years old. We booked to see the theatrical version of my most hated children’s book – “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” We had somehow snagged second row stalls tickets for a decent price, and Eden sat there, mouth agape, for the whole thing. She joined in when she was supposed to and said after how much she had enjoyed it. Having seen a matinee, we decided to pick up day tickets for Aladdin the musical for the evening show at Eden’s request.
We had ridiculously good seats considering that we had paid the grand total of around twenty pounds per ticket! Around row J of the stalls, which was lovely. Eden again sat through the whole thing, holding her much loved genie bear. The only time she spoke was to ask “when are they going to sing again?” We had impressed upon her the importance of behaving well in the theatre, explaining that people had paid a lot of money to be there and we needed to respect their right to watch the show without interruption. Eden did a sterling job, but did zonk out around twenty minutes before the end of the show!
I’m ashamed to say that until recently, we hadn’t been back to a theatre with Eden! Pretty much a case of life getting in the way and the issue of high ticket prices again. A lot of shows have online lotteries and such but they only entitle you to two tickets if you win, which is no good if you’re a group of three. Since those original trips, Eden started theatre school, which she absolutely adores and excels at, even if she is a little easily distracted. The closest we had been to a theatre was a couple of cinema trips and seeing JoJo Siwa’s D.R.E.A.M tour in November last year.
This month we discovered the Theatre Cafe in London’s West End. I had visited right back when they’d opened in their original location, but this location is shiny and new. The place was rammed, but we found a table and Eden was pretty happy that they served not only milkshakes, but ice cream as well! Unfortunately as soon as we got comfy, we were turfed out of our seat for a private event, so maybe we will have a more relaxed time next time? The place has a lovely atmosphere and it was nice to be wrapped up in that world that I adore so much.
We had planned to see School of Rock that evening, but Eden was massively objecting to the idea and tickets were a little on the pricey side because the show only had a few performances left before closing. Instead, we ended up getting tickets for Matilda the Musical through a promotion called “London Theatre Week”, which is part of the Today Tix app. Our tickets were in the dress circle and would have cost £67.50 had we bought them direct from the theatre. The promotion got us these tickets for £35 each. We were originally sat on row E of the dress circle, but during the interval the theatre manager was chatting to Aiden and pointed out that three seats at the front of the section were free and would we like to move into them? We took him up on his offer (of course!) as these were £95 tickets!
Eden loved the show, and it was perfect timing as we had watched the movie a few days before. Nothing makes me happier than watching her be so caught up in something that she leaps to her feet, whooping and clapping as soon as the bows start. I love that I get to share one of my great loves with my family and it’s wonderful that she loves it too. We did have to remind her a couple of times that we are not made of money, otherwise she would have come away with one of everything from the merchandise stand rather than just a programme!
It’s a nice way for us to spend some time as a family, but I also feel that GOING to the theatre is the only way that somebody can learn how to behave in one. How to be respectful of those on the stage and how to not distract those around you. I feel like it’s a good time to practise good behaviour in general and it becomes second nature if you’ve done it from being a child. Some of the grown adults around us at Matilda could have used a few lessons on how to behave at the theatre, especially as some of them couldn’t be quiet or leave their phone alone for longer than thirty seconds!
I’m hoping to make the theatre a monthly outing for Eden. We’re so lucky to be in basically the theatrical epicentre of England, so we really should make more of it. The Theatre Week Offer that we booked through is active until the end of March, so we may squeeze in another show before then. Aiden really wants us to go to Wicked, so that might be the next thing we see. Aside from the West End, we are within easy distance of a couple of regional theatres as well, so I’m keeping an eye on those.
Here’s hoping our love affair with all things theatrical continues long into the future.