After smashing box office records with its celebrity-free pantomime at Christmas, Greenwich Theatre has now embarked upon an exciting spring season of drama, comedy and music.
There is a distinctly international flavour to the theatre’s family programming this season, with a bold new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen coming to Greenwich following a tour of India along with astonishing 3D shadow puppetry spectacular, Slapdash Galaxy, from Canadian company Bunk Puppets.
James Haddrell, director of the venue, said: “One of the most important parts of any season here at Greenwich Theatre is the work we do for children and families.
“We have just come out of our most successful panto season ever, and I have no doubt it’s our year-round commitment to presenting some of the best children’s theatre in the country which brought audiences out in such high numbers over Christmas.
“This season we’ve looked even further afield in our search for the very best children’s shows, so there’s an international flavour to the children’s programming.
“We are proud to be hosting the European premiere of the new musical The Three Little Pigs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe – Olivier Award Winners, and most recently known for adding new songs to the West End production of Mary Poppins.”
The theatre continues discovering and showcasing some of the best young companies in the UK.
Scottish company, Tortoise in a Nutshell, will take pride of place in this season with their Edinburgh Festival hit, Grit.
James added: “Part of my job is to go searching for shows to bring to Greenwich, so I’m lucky enough to spend about four nights a week watching shows, trying to seek out that unknown gem which is going to excite our audiences.
“One of the best places to look is the Edinburgh Festival, and last year I probably saw about 70 shows in Edinburgh.
“From all of those, one company rose to the top of the list and I am delighted Tortoise in a Nutshell have been persuaded to come to Greenwich with their show – an incredibly clever piece of theatre which uses projection, puppetry, live performers and sharp new writing to explore the impact that war has on children’s lives.”
Another show, What the Dickens, is an inventive and gripping comedy featuring just three actors playing over 20 roles in probably the most absurd contribution to the Dickens’ bicentenary you could hope to see.
And famously grumpy comedian Arthur Smith will be dropping by for a one-night-only visit.
Rounding off the season, Lazarus Theatre Company makes its Greenwich debut with two shows celebrating female monarchs.
They will be recasting Shakespeare’s tragic monarch Lear as a queen betrayed by her three daughters, and presenting a rare London revival of Christopher Marlowe’s doomed love story Dido Queen of Carthage.
James said: “This has a double resonance for Greenwich audiences – not only is Lazarus director Ricky Dukes from Greenwich, but Christopher Marlowe was famously murdered in Deptford and now lies in an unmarked grave in the nearby churchyard of St Nicholas.”
Members of the public can also get involved this spring, with a weekly performance class for over 60s, and the return of last season’s sell-out adult puppetry course.
“We are all very proud of the shows on offer this season.” James added.
“Shows like Grit and Dido Queen of Carthage will offer Greenwich audiences a chance to see some of the finest in emerging British theatre – not only a great night at the theatre but a chance to see something new.
“I know audiences will be drawn to big titles like Lear and Journey’s End, and I know they will enjoy them, but I hope they take a risk on something unusual or unexpected as well.
“There’s nothing more exciting than knowing the show you’re watching this year, and loving, could be touring the country or gracing some of the big international stages next year.
“Very often a visit to Greenwich Theatre is a chance to say ‘I saw it first’.”
Visit greenwichtheatre.org.uk for the full line-up.