Theatrical family fun this autumn

There is something special about a youngster's first visit to the theatre — seeing the magic on stage reflected in their faces. And hopefully they'll stick with it through their teens too. SIMON PARKIN previews some of the family-friendly shows coming our way this autumn.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, October 13-15, �7 (�6 cons), 01603 629 921

Norwich-based amateur theatre company Laughing Monkey who have previously tackled Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters return to the Puppet Theatre in another of the author's Discworld tales, which bares absolutely no resem-blance to any other stories about phantoms in opera houses, honest! The prospect of becoming a witch doesn't really appeal to Agnes Nitt. Fleeing her destiny she travels to Ankh Morpork where she means to make a name for herself as a singer at the Discworld-famous Opera House. However fear and terror are rife and the infamous 'Opera Ghost', once considered good luck by the company, has recently been responsible for a number of terrible 'acci-dents'.


Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, October 16, �7.50, �6.50 children, 01502 533200,

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Star of CBeebies, Katy Ashworth presents the latest interactive live show specifically designed for children be-tween the ages of 2 to 6, full of great fun for everyone with songs, games and much more.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, October 22-23, �7 (�5 cons), �3 children, �20 family, 01603 629 921

Theatre of Widdershins

Elvis Schumacker, cobbler and craftsman, has worked all his life creating the most beautiful footwear. But now he's hit hard times: everyone's buying boring shoes from the evil businessman, Bunyan Sole-less! Time is running out for Elvis. With one piece of leather left, can anyone help him? Inspired by the Ladybird book, which all par-ents will remember, Theatre of Widdershins's classic fable uses magical puppets, intricate design, original music and the simplest of dialogue.


Norwich Arts Centre, October 26, �7 (�5 cons), �20 family, 01603 660352,

Multi-story – the internationally renowned theatre company – return with their haunting Norwegian tale of bravery and adventure, suitable for ages 5 and above. Be careful what you wish for. That's what the Queen discovers when after having twelve sons she wishes for a daughter. For at the very moment her beautiful daughter is born, her sons are transformed into wild ducks. Multi-story bring their customary magic to bear in their re-telling of the tradi-tional tale with a blend of live music, magical word-weaving and the engaging physicality that has become their hallmark.


Norwich Puppet Theatre, October 26-27, �7 (�5 cons), �3 children, �20 family, 01603 629 921

Rod Burnett of Storybox Theatre is adept at weaving together a glorious tapestry of tales. Here he tells of a pea which finds a real princess; the biggest turnip in the world; and the tale of a bean which runs away to make its mark. In this unforgettably leguminous tale of three famous vegetables, Rod uses his skills as a storyteller and puppeteer to take his audience on a journey into the extraordinary world of the imagination. It will send magic tingling up the spines of children aged 5-11.


Norwich Theatre Royal, October 27-30, �14-�5.50, 01603 630000,

Little Britain star David Walliams sees his 'smelliest book of all time' break new wind with this scratch 'n' sniff stage production that brings Mr Stinkpongingly to life. It's the story of uncool Chloe who doesn't like school very much and who meets Mr Stink — the local tramp who has more to him than meets the nose. Walliams isn't in the show, but plenty of his trademark humour is. And the audience gets a free scratch'n'sniff booklet — making it the first stage show to actually pong!


Norwich Arts Centre, October 29, �7 (�5 cons), �20 family, 01603 660352,

Adapted for the stage by Bill Davies, with music and lyrics by Frank Goodhind, this Blunderbus Theatre Company take on the best-selling children's book by David McKee is a charging production that's suitable for 3 – 7-year-olds. Elmer is different, he's patchwork. He's multi-coloured, not elephant-coloured. Tired of being different, he sets off in search of the elephant-coloured berry bush. The production brings Elmer to life with jungle characters, catchy songs, and beautiful hand-crafted puppets.


Norwich Theatre Royal, November 6, �13-�5.50, under-1s free, 01603 630000,

The Number One little race car zooms into Norwich for the very first time in a brand new live stage show. It's the day of the Champion of Champions race at Silver Hatch and Roary is all set to battle it out with Maxi, Cici and all the other cars to win the race and lift the trophy. So who will win the race and be crowned the champion? Race down to the Theatre Royal to find out.


Norwich Theatre Royal, November 7, �10-�5.50, 01603 630000,

Professor Hal Sosabowski and co-presenter, the Doc, from ITV's Ministry of Mayhem visit the Theatre Royal with their latest stage show The Bigger Bang! Be prepared for audience participation and interaction in a feast of spec-tacular science and entertainment seasoned with Laurel and Hardy-esque buffoonery. A show packed with scien-tific knowledge for all ages, but most suitable for those aged over 8.


Norwich Playhouse, November 29-December 11, �10 (�8.50 groups 10+), 01603 660352,

Based on the characters created by Lauren Child, and adapted by Jonathan Lloyd, everyone's favourite brother and sister, Charlie and Lola, returns in their extremely everso wonderful stage show, suitable for ages 3+. The stars of the hit BBC TV series and bestselling books (not to mention unavoidable merchandise) are brought to life by a magical mix of puppets, live action and music. 2-D and 3-D worlds mingle as we find out if Lola will ever tidy her room or if Charlie will get Lola to sleep, even though she is not sleepy and will not go to bed. Meanwhile the Tigers want their bedtime milk, the Dancing Dogs have borrowed Lola's pyjamas.