Visit London Blog » horrible histories Enjoy the very best of London Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:00:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Theatre News: The Commitments, American Psycho, Horrible Histories and the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse Thu, 25 Apr 2013 13:00:26 +0000 Firstly, news of two hot new musicals: The Commitments comes to the Palace Theatre in September, in a new stage version of Roddy Doyle’s novel directed by Jamie Lloyd. It’s the story of Jimmy Rabitte, a young working-class music fan who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, The Commitments. You might’ve seen the brilliant 1991 film of the novel. All preview tickets for the show will be half-price; after opening night on 8 October, the producers continue their commitment (ahem!) to cut price tickets, offering more than 10,000 seats for just £10 for the show’s first year.

In addition, new musical American Psycho, a co-production with the Headlong theatre company, will play at the Almeida Theatre from December. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is the story of Patrick Bateman, a young man publically embracing the high life in 1980s Manhattan while concealing a particularly nasty secret. The new show has a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, choreography by Lynne Page and designs by Olivier Award winner Es Devlin. Together, these two shows make for a promising autumn / winter on London’s theatreland…

Good news now for Horrible Histories fans. The family-friendly series returns to London at the Garrick Theatre this autumn with a brand new show. Barmy Britain – Part Two offers a fresh – and no doubt sometimes disgusting – look at Britain’s grisly past. Barmy Britain – Part One will help fans brush up on the series, kicking off the Horrible Histories residency at the theatre from 7 August to 1 September. Part Two then follows from 26 September to 5 January.

Finally, I’m very excited about the news coming from the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the newly built indoor theatre next to Shakespeare’s Globe. The first season, starting in 2014, will feature drama, opera and live music in its candlelit interior. The first shows will be Jacobean tragedy The Duchess of Malfi, Francis Beaumont’s anarchic comedy The Knight Of The Burning Pestle, the satirical The Malcontent, performed by the Globe’s Young Players, and Cavalli’s rarely performed opera L’Ormindo. There’ll also be music from Grammy Award-winning guitarist John Williams.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Talking about the venue’s first season, Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole says, “We could not be more delighted than to be opening this theatre with three such shining jewels from this time: a macabre tragedy, a riotous comedy and a beautiful philosophical satire. We hope that the Wanamaker Playhouse will afford as many insights, and prove as theatrically rejuvenating, as the Globe has proved over the last 16 years.”

London Theatre Cast News

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Kids Week Launch: Booking Opens Tomorrow Mon, 11 Jun 2012 16:00:30 +0000 We attended a star-studded (and school-kid-stuffed) birthday party for Kids Week earlier today. The festival, which gives parents the chance to take kids to the theatre for free during August each year, is celebrating its 15th birthday.

At the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, West End stars including Richard Blackwood and Carly Stenson (from Shrek), Tom Chambers (Top Hat), Bonnie Langford (Spamalot) and the boys from Thriller Live, gave an audience of super-chirpy children a taste of all the excitement to come this summer.

This year, theatregoers will be able to book for hit musicals including Billy Elliot, The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Les Misérables, Singin’ In The Rain and We Will Rock You, comedies like The 39 Steps, One Man, Two Guvnors and Yes, Prime Minister, dramas Chariots Of Fire, The Doctor’s Dilemma and The Woman In Black, and colourful children’s shows such as Dora The Explorer and The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Kids Week offers you a free child’s ticket for every adult ticket purchased to one of the participating shows, plus the opportunity to purchase up to two more children’s tickets half-price.

As well as the shows, Kids Week gives children the chance to take part in singing workshops, Q&As, dance classes and puppet workshops, backstage demonstrations and more. You can take part in a Tigerlympics Tea Party, become a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz or learn about the Terrible Tudors in a Horrible Histories workshop.

Go to for a full line-up of shows and activities on offer. Tickets go on sale on the website at 10am tomorrow or you can call the Kids Week 24 hour booking hotline on 0844 248 5151. You can also keep up-to-date with Kids Week on their facebook and twitter pages. and

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Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain at the Garrick Theatre Tue, 06 Mar 2012 11:46:20 +0000

One thing to consider when booking tickets for the new West End production by the Birmingham Stage Company is the name. Horrible Histories is every bit as horrible as the title suggests.

There is blood and guts galore in Barmy Britain, now appearing at the Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road. Over the course of just one hour, actors Lauryn Redding and Benedict Martin race through the goriest events from Britain’s dark past.

The pair, who have both appeared in previous Horrible Histories’ productions, introduce the audience to the likes of ruthless Romans, vicious Vikings and that most terrible of Tudors, Henry VIII. They bring their subjects to life with quirky takes on hit TV shows like Manky Chef and Who Wants To Blow Up Parliament.

Terry Deary is one of Britain’s best-selling authors and last year was the tenth most borrowed author in British libraries. His Horrible Histories series has instilled a generation of children with a love of history, which their teachers might not have thought possible. He dusts down dreary episodes from the past and appeals to kids with his wicked sense of humour and attention to deathly detail.

The hit series has spawned several productions from the Birmingham Stage Company and an exceedingly popular BBC children’s programme, which is a regular favourite in our house.

My boys were thrilled when I told them I had tickets for Barmy Britain. They loved the actors’ high-energy performances and laughed their way through many of the skits. My eight-year-old considered himself a little too cool for the audience participation, but his six-year-old brother joined in the song about Henry VIII’s worried wives with gusto – happily performing the actions to divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

If I’m being honest, I had my doubts and exchanged a couple of knowing looks with other slightly uneasy parents. But I kept quiet while all around me were laughing and guffawing.

Then it all went a bit too far for my boys as the pair started describing the gruesome executions of tens of thousands of commoners at Tyburn (now Marble Arch). After a particularly grisly explanation of what it meant to be hung, drawn and quartered, the dancing duo moved on to the story of Victorian “baby farmer” Amelia Dyer. If it happened today, would I be happy to let my little ones watch a news story about a prolific murderer of babies?

At this point it became clear that the content wasn’t just washing over my sons’ heads, as I’d initially convinced myself. Separately, they both turned to me saying that the show was “really gross”, and my oldest did so with his bottom lip quivering.

I fully appreciate how clever and popular Horrible Histories is with both children and adults alike and I hate to be the prudish parent. But, based on my children’s reactions, I disagree with the published age recommendation of six years and over. That said, the show is likely to be a great hit and much-loved by older children and teenagers.

Horrible Histories at the Garrick Theatre until 1 September 2012. Book tickets

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