Magic makes its way into unlikely spaces. At The Bedlam Bunch’s Children’s Theatre & Entertainment, we are in the business of creating magic and even we were surprised when, many years ago, we wended our way into the contrasting setting of corporate offices in the City of London. Now, in the heart of the bustling, thriving financial district, this intriguing union of worlds continues to take place, as though in a secret parallel dimension, once a year - for corporate children’s Christmas parties.
An Amazing Transformation Occurs ✨
Known for its coffees-to-go, modern architecture and sharp suits, the City of London is an unlikely setting for pantomimes, balloon-modellers, and face-painters, but now December is rolling in and Christmas in on the cards... Cue The Bedlam Bunch, bursting through automatic doors with bags of colourful theatrical props and costumes, ready to provide a spectacular feast of immersive, comedy-fantasy children’s entertainment that is truly unforgettable for all who experience it!
You know the way Clark Kent transforms into Superman, or Eric into 🍌 Bananaman (oh - you might not be quite that old!)? Well, we think the transformation we bring to corporate offices is even more exciting than that.
How Did This Happen?
It all began way back in 2011, when AIG Insurance (London) asked if we would kindly run their office Christmas parties, with over 200 children attending in two different locations. Suddenly, we had not just a small theatre space or a hall to play with, but multiple rooms with views overlooking the city, just waiting for us to fill them with puppeteers, magicians, Father Christmas, elves and various other theatrical joys. You could say we “went to town” in more ways than one!
It was an absolute treat for our whole company of professional actors and artists to come together and create a miniature Christmas festival for the children of AIG’s employees who came in just for this special event. (It still makes us chuckle that some kids believe that Santa lives in their parents’ office and that Fairy Fidget takes the staff on flying carpet rides every day they go to work!)
Word spread fast and now our corporate clients include the Government of Québec, SEI Investment, Virgin Money, Starcom MediaVest, Added Dimension Events, Amundi Asset Management, Boise Schiller Flexner, Egon Zehnder, Grosvenor, Inigo Estate Agents, Intsintctif Partners, Iwoca Finance, Luchford APM, Oak Hill Advisors, OSTTRA, Tradition Financial Services Ltd and Watson Farley & Williams. Our lovely network of London City contacts grows every year.
Now we specialise in bridging the gap between the corporate world and the realm of children's entertainment and we believe it is just as magical and inspiring for the adults of these companies as it is for their children.
You pulled it out of the bag again last weekend! You gave the younger guests of the Québec Fête nationale the most amazing time. Thank you for being so energetic, imaginative and caring entertainers to our young audience. You bring peace of mind to me every time you come to our events, I never have to worry and I know that young (and older ones too!) will enjoy the fun and games you bring to an event. You invest every ounce of energy and put in all your heart every time. A deeply felt humble thank you!Barbara Daniel, Government of Québec
Nuts and Bolts and Busy Bedlam Bees
Preparing for our children’s Christmas events is a process that begins months in advance. We visit our new clients’ offices to find out how we can best tailor our various performance offerings to their spaces. We reconnect with long-standing clients for updates and we get to work on The Bedlam Bunch annual pantomime which might be a totally new script or a revamp of one of our existing stage shows.
Right now, “Pirate Pratswagg & the Magic Lamp” is in the final editing stages for its 2023 revival! With three actors playing various, larger-than-life Bedlam Bunch characters, the kids will be in for a riotous ride. Fairy Fidget and Detective Drigglestopper the Fourth will need all the children’s help to rescue Pirate Pratswagg and Derek the Dragon from Queen Hilda the Horrid and SAVE CHRISTMAS!
Rehearsals are hard-work but highly spirited, since we love bringing these clown-like characters to life and finding new ways to amuse ourselves! Alongside pantomime rehearsals, gifts are being ordered, soft play castles are being sorted, costume fittings and adjustments are constant, Santa is polishing his boots and transport and deliveries are being organised for multiple events. (Every year we ask Santa 🎅 if we can borrow his reindeer and his sleigh, just for a couple of weeks, but apparently he doesn’t trust that Silly Billy won’ t bunk a ride and steer them all off to Gloopy Gunge Island by accident. To be fair, that did happen once when Silly Billy borrowed Princess Pearl’s royal carriage.) Knowing we’re about to meet hundreds of kids and share a lot of magical moments really fuels our creativity and carries us through this intense part of the preparation.
Setting the Stage
After many, many weeks of intense organisation, the shows go on the road! We get ourselves to each location the evening before each party (or sometimes we’ll do a 5am start!). You will find us ironing costumes, putting up helium balloon displays, planting props and laughing along with the Facilities and Maintenance office staff who are always super helpful, plying us with tea and finding amusement in the array of theatrical costumes taking over the normally-monochrome meeting rooms. We are always allocated a Green Room (that’s the technical name for the room where actors can relax in between performing) and we often marvel at how luxurious and comfortable these are compared to green rooms in certain theatres where we’ve worked in the past!
The backdrop goes up for our pantomime, the puppets are safely asleep, the games props are itching to burst out of their boxes, the flying carpets are ready for take-off, the gifts are laid out and Santa’s throne and reindeer are all in place waiting for his arrival.
Well, nearly! On the morning of the party, our actors, face-painters, stage managers and director (that’s Ros Parker) all gather together for a warm-up, some orientation notes and the all-important Health and Safety briefing. (Every space is different and we would get muddled if we didn’t have someone pointing out the difference between the ladies’ loos and the CEO’s office!)
After some very actor-y vocal and movement games to get us all into character and ready to perform (we’re talking monkey impressions and singing silly tongue-twisters to a musical scale, and, yes, we do draw some funny looks from the receptionists), on go the costumes, lots more tea is drunk, then the characters have their faces painted and off they go into position, ready to form the welcoming committee for the children. Would you like to go on a walk-through to get a really good sense of a full, Bedlam Bunch Christmas event from beginning to end? Read our Walk-through article here.
Now that a hundred or more children have gone on flying carpet rides, found Sally Spin’s missing circus hat, completed dozens of Christmas challenges set by the grumpy Bridge Troll, banished Geoffery the Girog for telling such terrible jokes, helped Rocket Ron 🚀 escape the Space Weasels, participated in the panto (“Oh, yes they did!”), received their gifts from Santa and – of course - learned the Bedlam Bunch magic words (“Jingly, Jangly, Spingly, Spangly, Spoo!”) – it’s time for us to wave them all goodbye for another year!
Once the last family has left, with big smiles and a whole new world to take with them in their own adventurous imaginations, we start the process of de-rigging and packing down. There is always a lovely glow to bask in, for us and all the staff still present, while finishing off the remaining mince pies. We can’t get too full on cakes and pastries, though – we’re about to do it all again tomorrow!
There’s no doubt about it - it is a very special privilege for us to bring theatre into the land of logic and sums! We are always well-rewarded by the feedback; knowing that parents and kids are recreating the world of Bedlam Island and its wonderfully zany inhabitants as they continue their family play back home is pure gold. You can’t get that in a Christmas cracker!
For more information on the children’s Christmas parties we create for offices in London and surrounding areas, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help!
A Fabulous Repertoire
The Bedlam Bunch offers a range of different portable stage shows. Every year, our Writer and Director, Rosalind Parker, writes a new pantomime and she is constantly adding new interactive adventure shows and revamping past stage shows from our well-loved repertoire. Have a look here at our current and past theatre productions as well as other types of shows.
After nearly 20 years of performing our shows at children’s parties, there’s one thing we know for sure: the kids will be using their new-found magical powers and re-enacting scenes for weeks on end after meeting us! And it’s totally okay for them to call our characters on their emergency telephone boots, by the way. We can’t guarantee they’ll be able to help in any way whatsoever (really, please do not take their advice) but call them anyway; they probably need waking up.
Supporting Community & The Arts
By hiring The Bedlam Bunch you're not only providing entertainment for your children's event but you’re also supporting talented artists and performers in your community. It's a great way to nurture local talent and invest in the arts. Thank you! ✨
The Bedlam Bunch Children’s Theatre & Entertainment is available for hire in London and beyond.