In an Islington back alley you’ll find the Little Angel Theatre, home of puppetry since it opened its doors in 1961. We’re frequent visitors and have enjoyed a rollercoaster of emotions through a range of performances at this cute theatre over the years.
a children’s theatre in London
Recently we were kindly invited to watch a performance of The Singing Mermaid and we literally jumped at the chance to be back. The compact 100 seat children’s theatre provides an intimate atmosphere, fully immersing the audience in the drama as it unfolds.
Adapted for the stage by Samantha Lane and Barb Jungr, The Singing Mermaid is based on the original book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks. Both girls are huge fans of Donaldson’s witty rhyme with favourites being The Gruffalo and Room On a Broom.
Walking in you’re immediately transported into a circus with strings of coloured lights, vibrant bunting and shell shaped lights leading to a fabulous big top stage. It was filled with an excited crowd of young and old, waiting for the show to begin.
Three engaging performers (Samantha Sutherland, Lizzie Wort and Phil Yarrow) bring the charming yet cautionary showbiz tale alive of a golden-haired mermaid tricked by the greedy Sam Sly to join the travelling circus. Waving goodbye to her home Silversands she begins a hard life of daily circus performances whilst living out her days in a small fish tank.
Longing for the day to see her home and friends again and wondering if she’ll ever escape the clutches of despicable Sam Sly.
The audience was completely spellbound by the lively performance and giggled their way through the catchy songs, Sam Sly’s terrible puns and the fantastic choral renditions from the dancing crustaceans. Aimed at three to eight year olds, I found my nine-year old either transfixed or heckling Sam Sly panto style. With many grown ups with a twinkle in their eye, myself included.
Behind the scenes of a puppet theatre
After the performance we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour. Where we met Lyndie Wright who co-founded the theatre with her husband John. Lyndie has made puppets for children’s theatre and film throughout her life. It was incredible to watch the master at work and on a Sunday too may I add!
Walking around backstage we had a quick lesson in marionette puppetry, the art of controlling puppets from above using wires or strings.
Also, did you know puppets are usually made expressionless? The audience brings the emotion to the character, along with the story, puppeteering and ambience. It was fascinating and a real joy to show the girls the inner workings of a fascinating art form. Plus they got to meet Cinderella.
The Little Angel Theatre also offers puppet making and manipulating workshops for both children and adults. There’s a Saturday Puppet Club too to help inspire the next generation of puppeteers.
The Singing Mermaid is on until April 22nd, I couldn’t recommend it more if you fancy escaping the real world for an explosion of funny capers, songs and enchanting puppets.
For more information on booking tickets and workshops, head to the Little Angel Theatre.
Have you ever been to a puppet theatre? Would you consider a puppeteering workshop? Let me know in the comments box below.
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Little Angel Theatre, however, all views, opinions and photos unless otherwise stated are my own and remain a trademark of the Curious Pixie.
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