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The theatre in Harrogate is a wonderful resource and despite personally being something of a dunce when it comes to the arts, I have taken my children there to see a number of plays. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed numerous West End shows over the years, but that is about as high-brow as I get.

The fact that we have such a fantastic local theatre programme which includes specifically child friendly plays, ballet and the annual pantomime is great. Not only are there traditional tales and performances but they regularly invite theatre productions showing adaptations of modern children’s books and television programmes.

Each time we have been my children lap it up. There is something magical about the theatre; the buzz as the auditorium fills up and then the hush as the lights dim down. The special children’s performances usually last around an hour and are truly captivating to these little minds.

The last production that we went to see at Harrogate Theatre was a children’s ballet, The Ugly Duckling. I took my four-year-old along with her nana and it was an amazing experience for us all. I had never been to a ballet before and whilst I had always quite fancied going to one, I knew the chances of dragging my husband along were slim. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t actually know if my own attention span would last for the duration of a full production!

The children’s ballet hit the spot perfectly. My daughter was so excited about her big trip to the theatre that she insisted on wearing her own tutu. I think she had hopes of being asked on stage in place of the prima ballerina. Her disappointment at not doing so didn’t last as she was mesmerised from the start. I actually had a running commentary in my ear as she gasped in amazement and felt the need to tell me every single detail about what she was witnessing.

The whole production was so family friendly that the odd noise and shuffle from the audience didn’t distract at all and in parts the children were really quite vocal. The theatre has taken care of some important extras most notably by providing little booster seats for the shortest guests.

My daughter is now hooked and regularly asks when we can go back.

The next special children’s production is called the The Dreams Of Philomina and it is showing at Harrogate Studio Theatre during the half term holiday on Wednesday, May 29 at 2pm and Thursday, May 30at 10.30am and 2.30pm. The tickets are still available and cost £8.50 for an adult and £7.50 per child.

The play is advertised as “A charming tale of love and loss, with a whole lot of silliness in between! Philomina is a lonely widow who gets one last opportunity to say goodbye to her husband before he moves on to the next life. Her adventures take her on a magical voyage through an unfamiliar land - where things aren’t always quite what they seem… 
Combining storytelling, puppetry, and live music, this heart-warming show asks what would you say if you could speak to the person you loved one last time? “It is suitable for children aged four plus.

WHAT’S ON?

Thursday, May 23

11am-12pm Story time at Harlow Carr. Come and join a garden tale at Harlow Carr, followed by a short walk or song. All children need to be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for under 5’s. Normal admission fees apply.

Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26

Joules Clothing are holding a Big Sale at Harrogate International Centre.

Saturday, May 25 to Monday, May 27

10am-4 pm Heritage Arts Festival 2013 at Ripon Workhouse Museum. Over the May Bank Holiday weekend you can watch and try your hand at some of the traditional arts and crafts such as: lace-making, music making, book binding, rag rugging, corn dollies, spinning, wood engraving, wood turning, calligraphy, felt making, coracles, brass rubbing and rope making. Traditional arts and crafts will be demonstrated by experts with a chance to have a go yourself. There is something for everyone and is suitable for all ages. For more details call 01765 690799 or email admin@riponmuseums.co.uk


Wednesday, May 29 to Friday, May 31

10am Harrogate International Festivals’ Musical Villages. This is a wide range of music workshops for young people aged seven-13 years. During May half-term, actor/singer Eamonn O’Dwyer and pianist and vocal coach Jennifer Miles will be running workshops for young people who are interested in music and performing music, open to everyone, whether or not they play an instrument or read music.

Eamonn and Jennifer are bringing the glamour of the West End to North Yorkshire in a series of music theatre workshops during the summer half term. Over a single day participants will work with Eamonn and Jennifer to create their own version of the popular musical Bugsy Malone, learning key scenes and songs from the show, before giving a performance to their friends and families at the end of the day. All workshops begin at 10am, and the final performance is at 3.15pm – all participants need to bring is a packed lunch. Workshops are taking place in three different venues around North Yorkshire, and places are just £5. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday, May 29 Nidderdale High School, Pateley Bridge
Thursday, May 30 Long Memorial Hall, Spofforth
Friday, May 31 St Stephen’s Primary School, Skipton

Booking is essential. For more information please call the festivals office on 01423 562303.

Caption: Philomina