What’s on tour: Five family friendly shows coming to a stage near you

With most theatres now open for in person performances, there are lots of lovely theatre children’s theatre companies back on the road with Autumn touring productions. In this guide we round up five fantastic family shows that are out and about across the UK today.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (all ages welcome)

Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

One of the most iconic characters in children’s literature is wiggling back to the stage this weekend! The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show returns for an Autumn tour ahead of festive runs of The Hungry Caterpillar Show at Mill Arts Centre, Banbury (1 to 11 December) and Warwick Arts Centre (13 to 24 December).  A theatrical recreation of Eric Carle’s beautifully imaginative stories, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show has become a global sensation. Four master puppeteers weave their way through Eric Carle’s stories, bringing to life a menagerie of 75 enchanting puppets in a magical show that faithfully recreates the wonderfully colourful world of Carle’s illustrations. Even if you have very little ones, they are welcome at this show which advertises itself as suitable for all, with babies welcome.

The Autumn/Winter tour of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show features four classic titles; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The caterpillar and friends will be visiting Theatre Royal Winchester (17 October), Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (22 October), The Quarry Theatre, Bedford (23 to 25 October), Grove Theatre, Dunstable (26 October), Redditch Palace Theatre (27 October), Watford Palace Theatre (29 to 30 October), Key Theatre, Peterborough (31 October), Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield (1 November), Theatr Clwyd, Flintshire (3 November), The Dukes, Lancaster (7 November), Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells (9 November), The Core at Corby Cube (11 to 12 November), Northwich Memorial Court (13 November), Forum Theatre, Billingham (16 to 17 November), The Welfare, Ystradgynlais (19 November), Palace Theatre, Southend (21 November), The Elgiva, Chesham (22 November), The White Rock, Hastings (24 November), Redgrave Theatre, Bristol (27 to 28 November), The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury (1 to 11 December) and Warwick Arts Centre (13 to 24 December. For more information and booking details head to the Hungry Caterpillar show website.

Stick Man (all ages welcome)

Another picture book adaptation which is back out on the road is Freckle Productions’ Stick Man, based on the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler. Stick Man has packed his bags and left the family tree for three months as he travels across the country. You can catch him at Southend Palace theatre this weekend (16 October), Redgrave Theatre, Bristol, (17 to 19 October), Oxford Playhouse (22 to 24 October), Liverpool Everyman Theatre (26 to 27 October), Winchester Theatre Royal (28 October), Exeter Northcott (30 to 31 October), The Radlett Centre (2 to 4 November), Theatre Royal, Plymouth (5 to 6 November), New Theatre, Peterborough (7 November), The Core Theatre, Solihull (13 November), King George’s Hall, Blackburn (14 November), Victoria Theatre, Halifax (22 to 23 November), Crew Lyceum (22 to 23 November), Grimsby Auditorium (24 to 25 November), Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (26 to 27 November), Queens Theatre, Barnstaple (29 to 30 November), The Gulbenkian, Canterbury (4 to 5 December) and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea (8 to 9 December).

As well as a UK-wide tour, Stick Man returns to Leicester Square Theatre from 23 October for its tenth annual West End season, playing for 10 weeks until Monday 3 January. The production will also play festive seasons at The Lowry, Salford (30 November to 9 January), the Minerva Theatre, Chichester (Friday 10 to Friday 24 December) and Birmingham Town Hall (Sunday 26 December to Sunday 9 January 2022). 

For more information and booking details, head to the Stick Man website.

What the Ladybird Heard (ages 3+)

Credit: David Monteith Hodge – Photographise

After a summer stint at London’s Palace Theatre, the ladybird is flying into theatres across the country. Based on the much loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk, this fun-filled show is the perfect introduction to theatre for young audiences.

You can find the ladybird in Salford this weekend (16 to 17 October) before a return visit to London where she will be visiting Arts Depot and Churchill Theatre, Bromley (20 to 24 October) and Arts Depot, North Finchley (26 to 31 October) over half term. She’s then off to the Everyman, Cheltenham (3 to 6 November), Lyceum, Sheffield (10 to 12 November), Milton Keynes Theatre (24 to 27 November), MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton (2 to 4 December) before a Christmas run at Northcott Theatre, Exeter (7 December to 2 January). This show has the Family Stage seal of approval. Check out our review then head to the official website for booking details and the full tour dates:

The Last Dinosaur (ages 3 to 7)

The Herd’s brand new show roars into theatres today. The Last Dinosaur is a non-verbal show which will be popping up in theatres and community centres in Hull, Barnsley and Stockton, accompanied by a free, playful app so children can familiarise themselves with the show ahead of coming and revisit the story after watching. Young theatre-goers can expect laughs, music, puzzles and the chance to chalk their own fossils in this story about the fun that can be found when we come out of our shells.

You can catch it at Mapplewell and Staincross Village Hall, Barnsley today (16 October) The Civic Barnsley (17 October), St Michael’s Church, Hull (23 to 24 October), Freedom Archie, Hull (26 to 27 October), Thornton Village Hall, Hull (6 to 7 November) and Arc Stockton Arts Centre (29 to 30 October). 11am & 2pm. For more information and booking details head to the Herd’s Website where you can also download the app.

This Island’s Mine (ages 7+)

Credit: Craig Fuller

Bristol-based theatre company Roustabout are out and about again this Autumn with their new show, This Island’s Mine. Set in the magical and comic world of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and developed with direct input from 195 primary and secondary school students, this vital new play encourages young people to explore complex and sensitive issues of colonisation, immigration and national identity: Where do I belong? Where is my home? Is it truly mine? 

The premiere production is touring to 25 primary and secondary schools in the South West, but you can also catch it at Theatr Clwyd, Mold (16 October), Bridport Arts Centre (23 October), Exeter Phoenix (24 October), The Pound, Corsham (27 October), Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol (28 to 31 October), Blackwood Miners Institute (6 November) and Valley Arts, Chew Valley (7 November).

We’ll be reviewing this one in half term so keep an eye out for our review during half term. In the meantime, head to Roustabout’s website for more information and booking details.