In this house we’re big fans of the theatre. My husband is an out and proud musicals fan (manly) and I was lucky enough to be taken regularly by my mum as I was growing up. In fact nights spent at the theatre and then at a hotel on the Strand became our thing. So despite wanting to keep Coco a cute baby forever, one of the best things about her now almost being a fully fledged threeanger is that she is old enough to enjoy the theatre. So when tickets became available for the Gruffalo Live at the Lyric, it was a bit of a no brainer.
Another big lure to go was the prospect of spending the day in London town, something I rarely had the opportunity to do since working in Soho approximately a million years ago. However, long gone are the days when all I had to worry about was getting to work on time and the rain on my recently straightened hair (still a concern tbf), now I had to decide the best way to make it to Shaftesbury Avenue with two kids in tow and enough bags for a week abroad. Draft in Grandma Mags.
Included on my long list of mad mummy anxiety inducing activities is taking the pram on the tube + toddler. This stems from the time I attempted to take the pram on a downwards escalator in busy Waterloo station. All fine you think, except from the fact I had left the baby in the pram at the top. Now picture pregnant me running UP the DOWN escalator to retrieve a crying Coco. Not my finest moment and not one I fancy repeating in a hurry. So instead we decided to drive to Islington and catch the bus to Shaftesbury Avenue. This was our first mistake. I had conveniently forgotten how the traffic is murder around Cambridge Circus and Shaftesbury Avenue and this resulted in us missing the first five minutes. In hindsight, I wished I had braved the tube and consequently also missed the parenting advice from the Citizen Smith look-a-like on the bus who wished to enlighten me on the potentially serious damage the pram will do to my baby’s back *smile and nod, smile and nod*. But, Coco and Grandma Mags loved the big London bus ride so it was totally worth it and was part of the day.
The staff at the theatre were brilliant and helped us scrabble up the steps with the buggy, retrieve our tickets and showed us to our seats mid performance. We were sat in the very front row so had a fab view of the stage with little to no neck straining. Unfortunately this also meant the poor actors also had a prime view of my boobs as Raffy insisted on having a feed a few minutes in. But even the sight of my nipples didn’t stop them putting on a great performance. Both Coco and Raffy were captivated as soon as we sat down (bar the feed and a short lived baby’s day out style escape from Raf), and unlike some of the other shows we had seen (ahem, Peppa’s Big Splash), the story’s flamboyant characters – mouse, fox, owl, snake and of course the main man himself – were hugely appealing to both kids and parents, making me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Convinced that Coco was about to pee her pants on my mum’s trousers, we of course missed the first appearance of the Gruffalo whilst we were in the loo. But the actor continued to give a great portrayal of grumpy, hungry Gruffalo. A friend who had also seen the show noted that bums began a little wriggly in seats towards the end of the performance, but we genuinely enjoyed every minute and Coco is still talking about it now.
As cheesy as it is, I love a novelty restaurant and having never been before I thought I would treat Coco (and me) to lunch at the Rainforest Cafe across the road. To anyone who hates a theme park/Disney, this most definitely isn’t the restaurant for you. The food is hugely overpriced (nearly £17 for a carbonara – WTF!?) but you aren’t paying for the food, you’re paying for the experience and the mechanical elephants. I’m sure most people in South East England have already heard, but it’s my shy and retiring mum’s 70th birthday this year, and never to miss an opportunity, my mum decided to inform the front of house of her special day a month early. So as Coco’s chocolate ice cream emerged so did two lit candles and soon the whole restaurants attention was on us. As a chorus of “Happy Birthday..” erupted so did the screams from my darling daughter. The day’s excitement and the disappointment of it being Grandma’s birthday and not her’s was just too much for her to bare. Cue the funniest and one of the most embarrassing moments of the summer thus far, ending a fantastic, very funny and tiring day in London town.
Here are a few of my top tips:
- Journey wise, best bet is probably to catch the tube to Holborn and walk/bus/cab it, but we parked in the Business Design Centre on Upper St, Islington and got the 38 bus straight to outside the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. Be warned, this car park is seriously expensive. We paid approx £15 for 5 hours
- There is a special place for prams to be stored at the theatre during the performance so no need to struggle without one en route
- There were lots of babes in arms, or in my case making an escape across the front row
- We chose to have lunch after the performance at the Rainforest Cafe but there are lots of different options nearby including China Town if you’re feeling adventurous and Bill’s Restaurant on Brewer Street (a firm favourite of mine)
Don’t miss the chance to check out Tall Stories adaptation of the fantastic Gruffalo Live, showing at the Lyric Theatre until Sunday 6th September this year. For more information and to buy tickets please visit www.gruffalolive.com
Seen the show already? Did you love it as much as us? Please do comment and let me know.
Hope you have fun!
UPDATED INFO! The Gruffalo Live is back for Summer 2016 at the Lyric Theatre. For more information, please visit The Lyric Theatre website – http://www.lyrictheatrelondon.co.uk/