THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS: Festive family show for young children at Leeds Playhouse – Review

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Leeds Playhouse with its fun festive family show, The Night Before Christmas, perfect for young children. 

Yorkshire Families went along to the Courtyard Theatre in Leeds Playhouse for the latest production at the new facilities.

After marching through the hustle and bustle of Leeds City Centre at Rush Hour, we were relieved to be able to escape into the stunning purpose-built building that is Leeds Playhouse’s new home. The city facing entrance helps to make the theatre feel more accessible. The bright lights were a welcome aim in the darkness.

We made our wait into the Courtyard Theatre to review The Night Before Christmas, perfect for 3-6 year olds (there’s also Snow Mouse on at the moment for 0-3 year olds and The Wizard of Oz for older children).

My friend and I had brought along our there kids straight from school, so we were all a bit stressed and rushed as we took to our seats.

But within moments, we were transported to the gentle land of Carol and Elf at home on Christmas Eve.

The show is all in sign language and rather than it be an addition it is an integral part of the characters;’ communication on stage, which was great to see.

All the stresses of Christmas seemed to whirl away into the twinkling stars above Carol’s house.

Lladel Bryant (Elf) and Alexandra James (Carol) in The Night Before Christmas at Leeds Playhouse. Photographs by Anthony Robling (2)

The setting is simple and the show features two main characters who communicate through sign language, speech and “Elvish.” I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to such a calm production but surprisingly they were engulfed into the beautiful friendship between Carol and elf.

There were nice touches of dancing and costume changes too as well as lovely parts where the characters came into the audience.

As the snow settled on Carol’s house ready for Christmas Day, we too felt relaxed and in the Christmas Spirit for the big day.

The Official Lowdown

Production images give a glimpse of the twinkly Christmas Eve sky above the small, neat home of Carol (Alexandra James) as she prepares for another ordinary day in her ordinary life. But then something extraordinary happens. Elf (Lladel Bryant) drops in – literally – and turns her world upside down, leading to rooftop adventures, ice dancing, a search for Santa and, best of all, a firm festive friendship.  

The Night Before Christmas by Robert Alan Evans(Crumble’s Search for Christmas, Kes, Leeds Playhouse) proved a big hit with audiences of all ages when it was first staged at Leeds Playhouse in 2015. Now, director Amy Leach (A ChristmasCarol, Kes, Leeds Playhouse) has added a dynamic new dimension for Christmas 2019, introducing creative use of sign language to make every performance D/deaf friendly, while giving Carol the perfect tool to communicate with Elf, who only speaks Elvish.

The Night Before Christmas, Leeds Playhouse’s Courtyard Theatre

30 November 2019 – 28 December. 

Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online: leedsplayhouse.org.uk

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