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Exclusive: Seasonal stars share festive favourites

First Published 14 December 2011, Last Updated 29 April 2020

With so many Christmas treats on offer across London this season, Official London Theatre decided to ask stars from a Christmas selection pack of shows why you should pick their production for your family treat this year.

From the Gruffalo and the Stick Man themselves to panto stars Sam Attwater and Steven Webb, they were only too pleased to reveal what they’ll be getting up to this Christmas, both on and off the stage.

The Gruffalo, star of The Gruffalo at the Lyric theatre

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
Cause I’m in it.

What is your favourite festive moment in the show?
The Christmouse pudding.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?
In The Bleak Midwinter, but I can’t sing it, I can’t even talk about it. It makes me well up. It makes me feel very emotional, reminds me of when I was a young Gruffalo, running around the yard without a care in the world, the smell of squirrels roasting on the open fire, the sound of all the little animals running away… aaah… happy days.

What are your favourite things about Christmas?
Carol singers. I’ve had three already.

Have a G-G-Great Christmas!

Susie McKenna, writer and director of Cinderella at Hackney Empire

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
Every year we try to bring the West End to the East End at East End prices! It’s a show packed full of fun, high quality singing, dancing and even a flying horse!
 
What is your favourite festive moment in the show?
My favourite moment are the looks on the faces of young and old(er) when the horse flies towards them and they know that Cinderella is going to the ball!

What are your favourite things about Christmas?
Christmas lights, mince pies, Boxing Day dinner (pickles!) and the Hackney Empire Pantomime.

Sara Stewart, star of The Snow Queen at the Rose theatre, Kingston

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
It’s a change from panto; a traditional family fairy tale.

What is your favourite festive moment in the show?
When the snow falls it’s magical.
 
 How will you be spending Christmas?
At my friend Samantha Bond’s house. We bring our families together….and I don’t have to cook, which is great!

What are your favourite things about Christmas?
The tree – decorating it, singing along too loudly to Nat King Cole and sipping bubbly!

Stick Man, star of Stick Man – Live on Stage at Leicester Square theatre

Why should families choose your show?
Stick Man is a Christmas cracker of a show with something for everyone to enjoy: music, puppets, singing, dancing, tears, laughter and a special surprise at the end – ho ho ho!

What is your favourite festive moment in the show?

My favourite festive moment is when I go on an amazing trip on Santa’s sleigh. I get to meet Rudolph, see the stars, the moon and even aliens!

How will you be spending Christmas?
I will spend Christmas with my beautiful Stick Lady Love and my Stick children three.  We love Christmas as it is a family time. However, no Christmas would be complete without a ‘Sticky’ Toffee Pudding…my favourite dessert – yummy!

What would you like for Christmas this year?
I am a bit of natty dresser so a new checked shirt would be a lovely treat. Then again, you can’t go wrong with a new pair of socks! I have put in a request to my new friend, Santa so we’ll have to wait and see.

Susan Harrison, playing young Emily in Bagpuss at Soho theatre

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
Because it’s a charming nostalgia trip for parents and a fun energetic show full of music and “Nyf Nyf-ing” for children!

What is your favourite festive moment in the show?
My favourite festive moment is the mice carrying the ballet shoe to the window with the audience joining in with the mice “heave heave”ing and glitter flying everywhere. It’s a lovely sparkly moment!

What are your favourite things about Christmas?
My favourite things about Xmas are walking through London with the Xmas lights up, catching up with friends and family and opening stockings… even though technically I’m too old to have one now…

What would you like for Christmas this year?

This year for Xmas as I’m doing a Xmas show I would like to be granted immunity from colds, sniffles and sore throats!

Jennifer O’Neil, starring as Lila in The Firework-Maker’s Daughter at the Bloomsbury theatre

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
Because it’s an exciting, magical and mythical story about a journey.
 
What are your favourite things about Christmas?
The smell of the Christmas tree and helping prepare lunch – I have a knack for Yorkshire pudding!

What would you like for Christmas this year?
I’ve been on tour with The Jungle Book for eight months before doing this show at the Bloomsbury so I’d like a rest please!

Sam Attwater, star of Dick Whittington at the New Wimbledon theatre

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
We have so much to offer to everyone from traditional Panto gags, the best 3D sequence I’ve ever seen, great dance numbers and to top it all off the amazingly funny legend Dame Edna!
 
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
My favourite Christmas song has to be The Pogues’ Fairy Tale Of New York. I absolutely love it! 
 
What are your favourite things about Christmas?
My favourite thing about Christmas is being with my family and having Christmas songs in the background.

Toby Mitchell, Tall Stories co-director and director of Twinkle Twonkle at the Roundhouse

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
Because Twinkle Twonkle is a funny, fantastic, exciting adventure through space.

What is your favourite festive moment in the show?
Never mind just one star appearing in the sky, we have a whole new constellation. Just between the Great Bear and the Little Bear, suddenly appears the Medium Sized Bear!

How will you be spending Christmas?
My wife is Australian, so every other Christmas we fly halfway round the world. This year we’ll eat turkey and pull crackers and then go and make sandcastles on the beach and swim in the sea.

What would you like for Christmas this year?
I’d like all of our actors and crew to be exceedingly healthy, because if anyone’s ill I can’t really fly back from Australia to stand in for them. In previous years, both my co-director Olivia and I have been called on to appear in shows with only a few hours notice!

Steven Webb, Wishy-Washy in Aladdin at the Lyric Hammersmith

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
It’s full of cheer and uplifting songs. And includes a magic carpet scene that really has to be seen to be believed. It has truly left people astonished.

What is your favourite festive moment in the show?
The final number because the entire cast and ensemble are on stage together thrashing away to Born This Way and the audience are on their feet and there are bubbles everywhere.

What are your favourite things about Christmas?
Apart from all the usual – family, friends, giving presents etc – I love the quiet. That beautiful silence that seems to settle on the streets of Xmas day.

What would you like for Christmas this year?
Clementines, candy canes, chocolate coins and cuddles.

Jack Tarlton, actor in Beasts And Beauties at Hampstead theatre

Why should families choose your show this Christmas?
It really does seem to be a show that unites families. The fairy and folk tales that we use speak to everyone, child and adult alike. They’re funny, scary, silly, gory and romantic.
 
What are your favourite things about Christmas?
The tree still gets me.
 
What would you like for Christmas this year?
A lie in would be nice…

Visit Official London Theatre’s Christmas Shows section for a comprehensive list of festive productions playing across London’s Theatreland this season.

CM

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