The lobby was swarming with excited young fans, their hands gripping onto signs bearing the face of their idol. You could feel the buzz in the air as we bought our drinks and took our seats at York’s Grand Opera House for the 11am show.
The last time I’d experienced such fevered anticipation was at a Take That concert. But this time my TT-obsessed cousin and I were taking her daughter and Baby Bookworm to see a somewhat different superstar – The Tiger Who Came To Tea.
More than 50 years since this iconic book was published, the appeal remains as strong as ever for young children. While the late Judith Kerr’s artwork and characters have a distinctly 1960s feel, there is a timeless quality to the surreal story of Sophie and her mummy inviting a hungry tiger into their home for an oh-so British tea party.
The book was adapted for the stage in 2008 by director David Wood and has been touring regularly ever since, proving to be a theatre hit as much as a literary one, with an Olivier Award nomination to its name.
The set and costumes are very much true to the book, with the story sympathetically lengthened to create around an hour’s entertainment – the perfect length for children aged three and older.
This means an exciting build up to the star of the show’s arrival, with a comedic skit as forgetful Daddy tries to get ready for work, followed by visits from the postman, milkman and so forth.
It was hugely funny but Baby Bookworm was rather impatient for the main attraction. Much to the mirth of everyone say around us, he kept loudly enquiring: “But where’s the Tiger?”
Thankfully we didn’t have too long to wait and when this iconic character finally knocks on the door, we were treated to a larger-than-life version who towers over Sophie and has some rather slinky dance moves. And in one funny scene, he teaches them to his bemused hosts.
The show has some charming songs, including the title number, and chances for the audience to interact with the action. It is pitched perfectly for a younger audience and little ones who have not experienced much theatre before, with plenty of slapstick, visual comedy and catchy music.
It’s a rather delicious treat and one that fans of the book will simple gobble up.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea is on stage at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket from 9 December 2019 to 19 January 2020, followed by a UK tour in 2020. More details and tickets available from tigerstealive.com
This review was not paid for and is not an advert. We bought the show tickets and attended as normal audience members.
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The Tiger Who Came To Tea exhibition at the National Trust
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