Preview: Norwich’s best half-term family shows

The Selfish Crocodile

The Selfish Crocodile - Credit: Archant

Half-term is here and there is nothing more popular for families than a trip to the theatre. With no shortage of shows, SIMON PARKIN previews some of the best this school holiday.


Norwich Theatre Royal, February 15, 1.30pm/February 16, 10am/12pm, £16.50-£5.50, 01603 630000,

Expect bright colours, vibrant set designs, audience participation and non-stop interaction, as Spot the dog invites you to his very special birthday party. For the first time ever, Spot's Birthday Party will be on stage at the Theatre Royal for three performances today and tomorrow. The show sees Spot celebrate his birthday with his friends, Steve the monkey, Helen the hippo and Tom the crocodile. This enchanting story has been brought to the stage by David Wood, the children's playwright behind the likes of The BFG and The Tiger Who Came To Tea.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 16, 2.30pm, £7.50 (£6 cons), £5.50 children, £22 family, 01603 629921,

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Two gardeners tell a story for very young audiences set in a Japanese Garden. Kumiko Mendl plays the cheerfully amoral Storm Fox who whips up a storm around the garden, causing havoc. The other animals - all played by Haruka Kuroda - object to Storm Fox's behaviour. The story is about the gradual resolution of conflict, assisted at the last by all the children in the audience making origami flowers. Julian Butler's haunting music - the performers do some singing - is all based on Japanese tunes, rhythms, nursery songs and folk melodies. It adds up to a charming little show aimed at ages 3 and upwards.


The Garage, Chapelfield North, Norwich, February 18, 11am, £7.50, £5 children, 01603 630000,

Suitcase Circus — which has scooped wards at both the Edinburgh Festival and at the Kidzfield at Glastonbury — features the most unlikely of performers including the world's only acrobatic potato sack, a daredevil ski glove, an incredible dancing milkshake straw, the hypnotic tie snake Windsor Knot, and the lovable yet bizarre magical Mexican hat Timrek. Brought to Norwich by Folding Feather, one of the UK's foremost contemporary puppetry companies, its aimed at ages 4 and upwards.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 20, 11am/2.30pm, £7.50 (£6 cons), £5.50 children, £22 family, 01603 629921,

An innovative re-telling of the classic Three Little Pigs from Circo Ridiculoso — aka first-class performer and consummate clown Danny Schlesinger — with balloons, magic and comedy.

Danny has been delivered a story telling kit in a crate. All the props for the story are contained within — or are they? He has to try against the odds to enact the story, without making a pig's ear of it. He will recount the curly tale with lots of huff, puff and you'll be blown away by his inimitable and hilarious circus skills and sheer pig-headedness. A show aimed at ages 4 upwards not to be oinked at!


Norwich Playhouse, February 19, 11.30am/2pm, £9.50 (£7.50 cons), 01603 598598,

Plop is a baby barn owl. He is exactly the same as every barn owl that has ever been – except for one thing. He is afraid of the dark. One day, Mrs Barn Owl suggests that Plop fly down into the world and find out about the dark for himself. And so, begins an adventure. Based on the classic children's book by Jill Tomlinson, this funny, gentle and reassuring tale is written especially for small people aged 3–7 — and grown-up's who sleep with the big light on! — and is staged by acclaimed Blunderbus Theatre.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 19, 11am/2.30pm, £7.50 (£6 cons), £5.50 children, £22 family, 01603 629921,

A delightful story of a very small girl, a very tall sunflower and a magical adventure, Sally and the Sunflower is an enchanting and inventive re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk with puppetry, colourful projections and storytelling.

With the hope of brightening up the garden she plants one small seed unaware that magic is afoot. Join Sally as she journeys into a strange land and encounters giants, giantesses and magic of all sorts. This new production from Ripstop Theatre is suitable for ages 3 up.


Norwich Arts Centre, February 20, 11am/2pm, £8 (£6 cons), 01603 660352,

Kid Carpet garnered was a pioneer of catchy, lo-fi electro-pop music for nearly 10 years. Having released four albums, supported acts like Arcade Fire, the musician took an unusual turn by trying his hand to live theatre aimed squarely at families. In his show — billed as his first punk rock musical for kids — Kid Carpet is backed by his Animal Band, featuring Gorilla – the argumentative one; Badger – the chatterbox; Bear, thinks she's from Manchester and really needs a poo; and Hedgehog – the quiet one. This lively and entertaining show that turns ordinary everyday toys into magical superstars with the aid of a video camera, comedy and energetic punk rock.


Norwich Theatre Royal, February 21-23, £16.50-£5.50, 01603 630000,

The award-winning Vital Theatre Company bring their stage production of Angelina Ballerina, the musical, with book and lyrics by Susan DiLallo and music by Ben Morss. Angelina and her friends, Alice, Gracie, AZ, Viki, and even their teacher, Ms Mimi, are all aflutter because a special guest is coming to visit Camembert Academy. Angelina is the most excited of all, but will she get the starring moment she hopes for? Based on the CG-animated series, the musical is a family-friendly show that promises have the entire audience dancing in the aisles. Recommended for ballet girls and hip hop boys aged 3-12.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 21, 11am/2.30pm, £7.50 (£6 cons), £5.50 children, £22 family, 01603 629921,

The Puppet Theatre revives its much loved production of the favourite fable directed by Bob Percy with music by Jonathan Lambert and performed by Jonathan Storey. The peaceful town of Hamelin is being disturbed by an endless army of rats. The people turn to the Pied Piper and his bewitching flute, but will the mayor be able to keep his promise?

This is a humorous and irresistible one person show. It's back in Norwich after a successful autumn tour of the UK. Suitable for ages 3 and upwards.


Norwich Playhouse, February 22, 11.30am/2pm, £9.50 (£7.50 cons), 01603 598598,

Deep in the forest, by the banks of a great river, lives a large crocodile. He's a very selfish crocodile and he won't share this river with any of the other creatures. But, one day there's a terrible scream — the crocodile has a toothache. Nobody dares to help him. This is a funny, heart-warming tale from Blunderbus is based on the best-selling book by Faustin Charles and Mike Terry. Performers use puppets to bring this watery adventure to life with a very happy ending. It's aimed at 3-7 year olds.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, February 23, 2.30pm, £7.50 (£6 cons), £5.50 children, £22 family, 01603 629921,

A fun nursery rhyme journey as Old Mother Hubbard clatters about in her kitchen with her dancing dog. With a spicy blend of slapstick and folk humour, Norfolk-based Garlic Theatre has created a fresh and funny adaptation with well-crafted puppets and musical treats, with crafted glove puppets, singing teapots and a feast of musical treats. Garlic has built up a strong reputation for innovative and hugely enjoyable shows. Several of have become favourites at the Norwich venue and this one returns by popular demand.