This Christmas there is a host of festive offerings for younger audiences to enjoy at theatres across the Midlands. Check out our top picks below...


ONE SNOWY NIGHT Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, until Tues 28 December

Slot Machine Theatre return to Midlands Arts Centre with another festive offering: an adaptation of Nick Butterworth’s classic Percy The Park Keeper story, One Snowy Night.
“The Percy The Park Keeper books are so well loved,” says Slot Machine co-artistic director Nicola Blackwell. “One Snowy Night is about a really kind and elderly park keeper who's friends with all the animals. One night, it snows in the park, so one by one the animals knock on his door and squash into the hut to keep warm. Then a certain amount of chaos ensues!”
Nicola really enjoys bringing the magic of theatre to Slot Machine’s appreciative audiences: “There's nothing better than seeing so many generations sitting side by side in the theatre. Also, seeing the reactions of children who wouldn't usually be able to go to the theatre is amazing. 


STICK MAN Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Sun 26 December - Sun 9 January

Suitable for children aged three-plus and featuring a trio of talented performers, Freckle Productions’ 50-minute adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s ever-popular picture book brings together puppetry, songs, live music and ‘funky moves’... In a first for Birmingham, all performances will be ‘fully relaxed’, meaning that families can enjoy watching the show on their own terms, with every reaction being ‘embraced, encouraged and welcomed’. 


THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Sat 18 - Fri 24 December

In a career stretching back to the mid-1960s, Eric Carle, who died earlier this year, illustrated more than 70 books - most of which he also wrote. None were more famous or successful, though, than his 1969 story of

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a picture book which has since been translated into more than 60 languages, selling in excess of 52 million copies.

This stage version of Carle’s much-loved tale is presented alongside three other popular children’s stories by the same author: Brown Bear, Brown Bear; 10 Little Rubber Ducks; and Dream Snow. 
The show features no fewer than 75 ‘lovable puppets’


MISCHIEF AND MYSTERY IN MOOMINVALLEY  Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton, Fri 10 - Sun 12 December

This unique participatory storytelling experience is based on the hugely popular characters created by Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson in the 1940s. 
Created for children aged between four and seven, the 50-minute show features puppetry, original music, interactive play and an ‘ingenious’ pop-up book set.


HORRIBLE HISTORIES: BARMY BRITAIN  The Alexandra, Birmingham, Wed 1 - Sat 4 December

If you love the Horrible Histories series - and why the heck wouldn’t you?! - then Barmy Britain is a show well worth catching. Alongside providing answers to such searching questions as ‘what would happen if a Viking moved in next door?’ and ‘would you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin?’, the show also invites its audience to escape the clutches of Burke & Hare, move to the groove with the partying Queen Victoria and prepare to do battle in the First World War. 

In short, and as its publicity states, it’s ‘a truly horrible history of Britain - with all the nasty bits left in!’

 


ALICE IN WONDERLAND  The Old Rep, Birmingham, until Fri 17 December

A timeless classic telling the magical and decidedly topsy-turvy story of a little girl who disappears down a rabbit hole and discovers a weird world, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland first made its way onto the stage during its author Lewis Carroll’s lifetime; in 1886, to be precise. It’s since been adapted for the theatre countless times and in all manner of ways, including as a ballet, a musical, an opera and a traditional pantomime. 

With its cast of nonsensical and amusing characters, including the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, it invariably makes for a great Christmas show. 

This Old Rep production is presented in association with Birmingham Ormiston Academy.


 A CHRISTMAS HUG Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury, Fri 17 - Fri 24 December

This yuletide yarn is based on Steven Lee’s bestselling book, How The Koala Learnt To Hug. Set in Australia on Christmas Day, it focuses on grumpy-girl Natascha and her poor old dad, who would dearly love a festive hug from his beloved daughter, even though she’s really not interested in providing one. Not to worry, though, because Dad has the perfect cure for a bout of Christmas grumpiness - and it comes in the shape of a magical story and a cuddly koala bear!  Presented by the People's Theatre Company, A Christmas Hug is suitable for children aged two-plus.


SANTA'S MAGICAL MYSTERY GUEST Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thurs 9 - Fri 24 December

If your little one is aged between two and six, this show could well be the ideal way to get their Christmas celebrations under way. When a magic cabinet conjures up a pirate who seems to be lost, it’s up to Santa, Ellie and Rudolph to help him find his way home in time for Christmas. 

Featuring sackfuls of singalong songs and no small amount of festive cheer, Santa’s Magical Mystery Guest also provides youngsters with the opportunity to give their Christmas wish-list to the man himself, who in turn will be handing out a present to every child. 


JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Sat 18 - Thurs 30 December; Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Tues 7 - Sat 18 December

Roald Dahl’s classic tale tells the story of a young orphan boy named James, who is sent to live with Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, a terrible pair of vile old nasties who make his life an utter misery. Then one day James meets a mystical old man who gives him a bag that contains the strongest magic the world has ever known. When the young lad accidentally spills the contents of the bag near an old peach tree, the most wondrous things start to happen - and James suddenly finds himself presented with a golden opportunity to escape his thoroughly miserable existence...


SANTA'S CHRISTMAS CRACKER
Tamworth Assembly Rooms, Mon 13 DecemberBrewhouse Arts Centre, Burton-upon-Trent, Fri 17 December 

After scoring a major yuletide hit with previous theatrical offering Santa’s Christmas Cracker, Honalee Media make a welcome return with another show designed to excite and delight youngsters aged between two and seven. In this one, there seems to be some considerable confusion about exactly what Santa has been up to: Dotty the Elf thinks he’s been planning a surprise Christmas party, Pompom the Penguin reckons he’s been making Christmas crackers, and Dasher the Reindeer is convinced he’s been busy acquiring their biggest-ever Christmas tree...  
Featured songs to sing along to include Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, The Twelve Days Of Christmas and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. 


THE MINCE PIES MICE Lichfield Garrick, Sat 11 - Fri 24 December  

With troublesome Tina Mouse causing plenty of problems on Christmas Eve, Michael Mouse must grit his teeth and find a way to get along with her...  An interactive show about being tolerant in the face of provocation - and about making mince pies! - The Mince Pie Mice is suitable for children aged between three and six.


DEAR SANTA
Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Thurs 9 - Sat 11 DecemberBirmingham Hippodrome, Wed 15 - Fri 24 December 

Presented with the intention of giving children aged two to seven both a fun introduction to theatre and a memorable yuletide treat, Dear Santa tells the tale of Father Christmas’s backfiring attempts to sort out the most fantastic of festive gifts for a girl named Sarah. With the assistance of his cheeky Elf, he finally settles on the perfect prezzie...