Funnily enough for a website devoted to one particular subject, there aren’t many things we like more than theatre at Official London Theatre. Baked goods occasionally come close, Nigel Slater and Mary Berry are also popular, as are double entendres and videos of small animals sneezing. But one thing eclipses all our passions at that most magical time of each year, Christmas.
Luckily for us, along with the thrill of having a tree indoors and being able to eat chocolate for breakfast, Christmas also brings with it a glittery host of new shows and festive thrills combining our two favourite things in one lovely Theatreland shaped present.
We’ve put together a list of our 10 highlights suitable for all the family from this year’s merry season below.
1. Hansel And Gretel – National Theatre Cottesloe / From 7 December
This production might be recommended for ages seven to 10, but with a creative team comprising NSFW playwright Lucy Kirkwood and National Theatre regular Katie Mitchell we wouldn’t be surprised if this new adaptation of the classic fairytale also attracts people of a slightly greater height. The famously innovative director will bring her unique style to the production following her acclaimed children’s versions of The Cat In The Hat and Beauty And The Beast. Expect enchantment, sweetie temptations and plenty of visual spectacle.
2. The Arabian Nights – Tricycle theatre / Now playing
Ever since Official London Theatre sneaked into rehearsals for the Tricycle’s The Arabian Nights, we’ve been dying to see Lu Kemp’s festive offering with a difference. There are no elves or sleighs – that we know of – but exotic stories full of kings, jesters and magical tortoises instead. Recommended for ages nine and over.
3. Goodnight Mister Tom – Phoenix theatre / Now playing
For some classic drama, head to the Phoenix theatre for its first new show in 24 years, Michelle Magorian’s award-winning Second World War drama. Adapted by the reigning king of children’s theatre David Wood and starring Oliver Ford Davies, this story has played across the country and now arrives in the West End for a limited run.
4. Scrooge The Musical – London Palladium / Now playing
Tommy Steele is back as the most famous miser of them all! If you feel like shouting “Bah humbug!”, singing “Thank You Very Much” or getting down with three ghosts, you literally couldn’t find a better show this Christmas. Transport yourself back to a Dickensian London at the London Palladium and don’t forget to say “hi” to Tiny Tim for us!
5. Cinderella – Lyric Hammersmith / Now playing
The Lyric Hammersmith’s Artistic Director, better known for gritty drama than festive japes, is making his pantomime directorial debut this winter with the venue’s annual date with that most famous of dames, Widow Twankey. Starring not only musical star Julie Atherton but The Great British Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyc, there are sure to be a few cherry bun gags as well as this year’s pantomime must-have, a tribute to Gangnam Style.
6. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – New Wimbledon theatre / From 7 December
Over the river there’s one princess and seven friends vying for your attention. When one of them is Priscilla Presley and another is Warwick Davis, that’s two good reasons just there for leaving the West End. They’ve also promised “spectacular sets, sparkling costumes, sensational songs, dazzling dance routines and bags of audience participation”. We’re sold.
7. The Boy With Tape On His Face – Duchess theatre / From 17 December
Stand-up without speaking? Sounds bizarre but this silent boy regularly has audiences in stitches and has collected awards for this Edinburgh Festival Fringe sell-out show. There are only 22 chances to catch the production in the West End so, like this peculiar but hilarious comedian, we’ll shut up now and let you get on with booking.
8. The Nutcracker – London Coliseum / From 12 December / The Nutcracker – Royal Opera House / From 10 December
Clearly no Christmas round-up would be complete without a nod to The Nutcracker, but at Official London Theatre it’s not complete without two. In the heart of Covent Garden you can catch Peter Wright’s classic production at the beautiful home of the Royal Ballet, while down on the glamorous St Martin’s Lane sugar plum fairies are to be found in choreographer Wayne Eagling’s Edwardian version. We’re feeling Christmassy just thinking about it.
9. Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – Sadler’s Wells / From 4 December
Matthew Bourne’s critically acclaimed and much-loved dance company New Adventures concludes its 25th birthday celebrations with the world premiere of Bourne’s newest re-imagining of a ballet classic, this time the romantic Sleeping Beauty. As with all of Bourne’s productions there is a special twist and this production will see Aurora’s extreme nap take her from the 1900s to the modern day. I’m guessing she gets a lot of Twitter followers off the back of that scientifically baffling experience.
10. The Snowman – Peacock theatre / From 4 December
Drawing the list to a close is another ballet favourite, returning to the Holborn venue for a 15th record-breaking year. Telling Raymond Briggs’ famous story of a boy who finds his snowman has come to life in all its flying, jigging glory, escape jack frost with the pair by joining them in this particularly warm, cosy theatre this Christmas.
11. Oh alright then, as it’s Christmas we’ll add one for luck.
We don’t want you to think we’ve forgotten about the littlest of theatregoers for whom there are plenty of shows on offer, many which are suitable for you to take along your babes in arms too. Our pick of the crop would be Little Charley Bear And His Christmas Adventure – Live On Stage! (Ambassadors theatre from 5 December), Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt (Criterion theatre from 6 December) and Sooty In Space (Duchess theatre from 21 December). We think you just might enjoy them too.
You can view a full list of shows playing over the Christmas period on our handy Christmas Shows page.