Christmas Theatre: What’s Cool This Yule?
“Christmas time, mistletoe and wine!” A season in which theatre is at its prime. You betcha, it’s that time of year again and what better way to celebrate the festive season than by taking a trip to ‘ye olde London town’ and attending a show? With the holiday season coming up, the West End and other big London theatres have upped their game in order to fill your stockings with fantastic festive treats. Of course being in the UK’s theatre capital there is something for everyone this Christmas. If you are at a loss of what to do to entertain your children in the school break, what to do with Nanna on Boxing Day, or even which show is best to increase your chances of a little under-mistletoe-action with your yuletide honey, then rest assured: we have picked the cream of the crop to keep you in a jolly jingle all the way through to 2013!
For Panto Lovers
Some people don’t get it but one thing is for sure, the Brit’s love a good pantomime! Some say Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a cheeky panto Dame and a golden-egg-laying comedy goose, but luckily for them there is plenty on the Panto front this Christmas.
Lily Savage will be gracing the supermarkets of Old Peking as the robust Widow Twanky (courtesy of Mr Paul O’ Grady) in this years rendition of ‘Aladdin’ at The 02. Ms Savage is reprising her role from the Southampton production of ‘Aladdin’ last year. The production follows the usual tale of the genie and the lamp and the pauper pursuing the beautiful princess. If you are after an enjoyable Arabian night with one of the UK’s best loved cross dressers, then Aladdin is a safe bet. Lily Savage’s performance in Aladdin is likely to be as camp as Christmas!
Where: The 02 Arena
When: 7th December – 5th January
Who: Ages 5+
Why: Because what is Christmas without a cheeky innuendo from a man in a sparkly dress?
For Fairy-tale Fiends
The festive season has always been a time in which magical stories are told. From folk law galore to mythical mayhem, Christmas is certainly a time for fantasy. Our pick of the West End’s fairytale favourites are great for both big kids and small:
An Ogre, a princess, a dragon, and donkey; aka all the ingredients of a fairy tale fiasco. For all those unfamiliar with the Dreamworks films, ‘Shrek the Musical’ is the tale of an unlikely swamp dwelling hero who seeks to save a beautiful (by day!) princess from a fearsome dragon. There is also plenty of comic intervention from a misfit band of mythical characters, including Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs and a pretty seasonal gingerbread man!
Where: The Theatre Royal Drury Lane
When: Now – February 24th 2013
Who: Ages 4+
Why: Because the cast have gone through the effort of recording a Christmas single for charity . Who doesn’t love a singing pig?
Forget crackers – a trip to this magical musical is certain to make your Christmas go with a bang! Wicked is a ‘cool’ fairy-tale with a twist. The story is the tale of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ told from the perspective of the ‘Wicked’ Witch of the West, Elphaba. Wicked begins with Elphaba’s first day at magic school and shows her struggle to fit in (despite being born green!) with the popular witches and wizards. The action unfolds as Elphaba and the beautiful young Galinda (Glinda) become friends and as one becomes a figure of good, the other is labelled by the government as being wicked. ‘Wicked’ boasts all the magic of the festive season and promises to leave audiences spell bound.
Where: The Apollo Victoria Theatre
When: Now – 3rd September 2013.
Who: Ages 8+
Why: Christmas trees are green and so is Elphaba, go figure.
For those who are Crackers about Christmas
Whilst there are plenty of shows that fulfill the festive spirit, sometimes that is simply not enough for a Christmas craving crowd who want some pure seasonal indulgence. Here is our pick of actual Christmas shows:
Goodbye winter blues, hello Christmas cheer! ‘Scrooge’ is the perfect show to rid any grumps of the old ‘Bah Humbugs’ and get them in the seasonal spirit. ‘Scrooge’ is the classic Dickensian tale of a tight old codger who fails to pay his employees a fair wage. Visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Ebenezer soon learns the error of his ways. Set on Christmas Eve in Victorian London, Scrooge radiates a very traditional charm that will warm the hearts of children, adults and angry old hags alike.
Where: The London Palladium
When: Now – January 12th
Who: Ages 4+
Why: Because Tiny Tim needs you!
For twinkle toe lovers, ‘The Nutcracker’ is the ultimate Christmas ballet! Traditionally performed each year during the festive period, The Nutcracker is the enchanting tale of a young girl and her enchanted toy and their journey into the land of sweets. In terms of festive cheer, it doesn’t get better than ‘The Nutcracker’, which like ‘Scrooge’ is also set on Christmas Eve. There is plenty of festive eye candy (cane) as scenes take place around an enormous Christmas tree and later in a land filled with sweets, which is reminiscent of dancing in a big Christmas tin of Cadbury’s Roses.
Where: The Royal Opera House
When: 10th December – 16th January.
Who: Ages 5+
Why: Because Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without dancing mice and a trip from the Sugar Plum Fairy.
For Santa’s Little Helpers
Let’s face it, Christmas is above all a time for the little ones to revel in the joy and happiness of the magical time of year.
Nothing screams Christmas more than a snowman brought to life by miscellaneous magic and his adventures with a boy companion. This 80’s classic has become intrinsically linked with the festive season. I for one would feel as if the Grinch had stolen Christmas if I was not at home to watch the Christmas Eve showing of The Snowman! Luckily the heart-warming tale is being brought to life at the Peacock Theatre, and this news has got me walking on the air!
Where: The Peacock Theatre
When: 28th November – 6th January.
Who: All age groups are welcome! Children under the age of 2 are admitted for free, children 2+ must have their own ticket.
Why: Because Santa, yes SANTA performs live on stage.
Christmas time is family time and for many people this means cherished time with good old Nanna! A trip out to the theatre can be a good way to keep both yourself and the more senior citizens entertained and when it comes to theatre, the golden oldies love the golden oldies. That’s not to say that mum, dad, nan and/or gramps won’t enjoy ‘Shrek’ or even ‘Bodyguard the Musical’, however they may well prefer a more traditional tale.
Top hat will delight any fan of the 1930’s Hollywood era with its glitz and glamour. With a whimsical storyline of love and mistaken identity alongside some good old fashioned tap dancing, Top Hat is an enjoyable and inoffensive treat for all the family.
Where: The Aldwych Theatre
When: Now – 28th September 2013
Who: Ages 5+
Why: It’s like your own invitation to a live episode of Strictly Come Dancing!
Whatever show you decide to see this Christmas, it is certain that the West End will be the perfect holiday treat for you and your loved ones! So before you get those chestnuts roasting on that open fire and start supping that hard earned steaming glass of mulled wine, have a little think about what show will be best to entertain you all the way into the new year! A very merry Christmas to all!