Melody, mirth and mayhem for all ages at the Playhouse this Easter holiday

Wednesday 18th March 2009

Nottingham Playhouse offers family entertainment with a difference this Easter holiday, with two shows from outstanding international artists, both guaranteed to please parents as much as their offspring. Already a phenomenon in the United States, Dan Zanes & Friends bring their irresistible grooves to Nottingham for one afternoon only on Monday 6 April at 2pm. Then, on Friday 10 April (7pm) and Saturday 11 April (2pm & 7pm), the stage becomes a circus ring as the renowned Circo de la Sombra blends the best of the traditional French travelling show with modern pace and anarchic humour. Both provide ideal school holiday diversions for all ages – and look out for the circus invading the Playhouse forecourt with a free circus school on Saturday 11 April (12noon – 2pm).

Grammy award-winner Dan Zanes has been called many things, from “a titan of hip kids’ culture” (Time Out New York) to “Pied Piper to the under-fives” (The Times) but they hardly do justice to the huge following Dan Zanes & Friends have already developed among all age groups in the USA. Formerly the frontman of 1980s Boston rock band The Del Fuegos, he turned his hand to creating music for children when his daughter was born and he realised how little music there now was that parents and children alike could enjoy together. In 2000 he released Rocket Ship Beach, the first of a string of albums for children, and has never looked back. Subsequent albums include guest appearances from Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Nick Cave, Sheryl Crow and Philip Glass – which gives a small hint about how varied his music is. His live concert– described as the happiest vibe since Woodstock, but without the mud – features new versions of traditional songs, dance classics and smart, inventive rock original in an exuberant mix that is sheer fun from start to finish. Now picking up more and more fans on this side of the Pond, the shock-headed Zanes and his five-strong group of Friends stop off at the Playhouse on the afternoon of Monday 6 April, en route to a four-day run at London’s Southbank Centre.

Tickets for the show, presented by Pomegranate Arts and Crying Out Loud, are just £8 each, and a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) costing £30, call the Box Office on 0115 9419419 or visit

Circo de la Sombra provide a thoroughly modern interpretation of the traditional travelling circus show, bursting with energy and deadpan humour. Backed by an amazing musical group, Le Grande Osim Orchestra, six of the finest acrobats from France, Spain and Italy create a breathtaking place where reality and gravity are left far behind. Falling from doorways, climbing the ceiling, disappearing into cupboards and popping up on the roof, these unlikely characters have the audience laughing one moment, gasping the next. Stunning circus skills combine with frenetic pace and slapstick humour worthy of the silent movies, as the tale emerges of a circus pulling a show together and building up to the grand finale. Clubs, whips, roller-skates, the trapeze and the German wheel – all have their place in this dazzling display that promises to leave the entire audience feeling joyous. Presented by Crying Out Loud, Circo de la Sombra performs on Friday 10 April at 7pm and on Saturday 11 April at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are £12.50 for adults, £7.50 for children.

As if that’s not enough, before the matinee on Saturday 11 April, a host of circus activities take over the Playhouse forecourt in a free spectacle for all. Alongside fire spinners and stilt walkers, there will be circus workshops, a colouring competition and family catering from CAST restaurant. The event runs from 12noon – 2pm and is free of charge.