Nottingham families have such a treat in store if they have booked to see a modern retelling of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, currently on at the brilliant Lakeside Arts until 31 December.

On our way there I was explaining to the boys, aged 11 and 8 years, that Black Beauty was a classic novel about a horse written a long, long time ago and I had read it when I was about their age. They were dubious to say the least but as they have always loved the Christmas theatre that we have seen before at Lakeside so were prepared to give it a go.

The stage (designed by cocreator Shona Reppe3)  is simple with the horsebox scribed with the words “McCuddy Bros Famous Equestrial Illusionists”.

Enter the McCuddy brother, Andy the elder and Andy the younger (Paul Curley and John Currivan). They have pitched up on the side of a road, close to a public phone box to take their calls for booking on. The market has dried up for pantomime horses so as they lay out a stall to sell their mother’s beloved belongings, they act out the classic novel Black Beauty using boots and bags for their equine props.

The show, created and written by Andy Manley and Andy Cannon,  is really cleverly put together and performed by the two incredibly talented entertainers. The boys were captivated and enthralled as they watched the action and there were plenty of giggles and chuckles from all the audience.  With audience participation, music, dance, atmospheric shadows, a bit of pantomime and lots of comedy time just flew by! No matter your age or exposure to the original book you will love the combination of fun and drama so wonderfully created.

Lakeside Arts have won the Christmas theatre award, in our books, again for its performance which is both traditional and wholesome yet contemporary and quirky. It was amazing how strong a production can be created by two people (although we know there is a team of many more hard at work behind the scenes!).

The show started at 3.30pm and had a short interval at about 4.15pm, and finished around 5.00pm.

At the end, the boys announced that the show was “the best one they have ever seen at Lakeside” and this really is high accolade!

Lakeside Theatre is located on the campus of Nottingham University. There is a free car park and the tram stops just outside too. There is a brilliant cafe selling hot drinks and snacks. They do the best cheese and mustard scones!

Make sure you grab your tickets, priced from £8.50, before they all sell out!


Whilst you are there why not check out the wonderful Vikings exhibition in the Djanogly gallery. We visited with school – check out our post here.



Photography by Lisa Gilligan Lee,

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