The Official London Theatre team is lucky enough to be based in the heart of London’s Theatreland, surrounded by stunning West End playhouses and just a short stroll from the iconic institutions of the South Bank. It also means, however, we’re right slap bang in the middle of London’s obsession with turning on the Christmas lights and stringing up the giant Covent Garden baubles earlier and earlier each year.
While we’re dedicated to keeping talk of how many shopping days left there are and the wearing of festive jumpers strictly to December – and believe me, post 30 November we will be watching The Dog Who Saved Christmas on loop and eating 12 mince pies a day in celebration of our favourite time of year – we are big fans of planning ahead.
This is why, with 38 days to go until the day itself, we’re presenting our annual 12 shows of Christmas to help you plan what to see at this most magical time of year. Here we go…
On the first day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… a brand new show at the NT
If all this talk of snowmen and festivities is already giving you the urge to escape to an entirely different landscape, David Hare’s much-anticipated adaptation of Katherine Boo’s Mumbai-set Behind The Beautiful Forevers opens at the National Theatre this week. Telling a hard-hitting story of families living in makeshift slums, Boo spent three years in India researching for the novel. This adaptation promises to reflect this in its epic scale, making it one of our season’s must-sees.
On the second day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… two comic stars
One of this year’s Best Entertainment and Family Olivier Award nominated shows, Eric And Little Ern returns this Christmas for a much welcome festive run at the St James Theatre. Paying homage to two of Britain’s best loved comedy double acts, performers Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens reprise their critically acclaimed roles as Morecambe and Wise in the touching and hilarious show they also co-wrote. Warm-hearted entertainment for diehard fans and newcomers to the legendary pair alike.
On the third day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… three Potted sleuths
The kings of condensed entertainment are back and this time they’ve got a third conspirator! Following the hugely popular Potted Potter and Potted Panto, this Christmas you can catch CBBC stars Dan & Jeff’s Potted Sherlock, in which, with the help of Lizzie Wort, they’ll take audiences on a whistle stop tour of every one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works about a certain detective in just 80 minutes. If their previous shows are anything to go by, you can be certain it won’t be entirely without its hiccups but we’re rooting for them all the way. Book tickets through us here.
On the fourth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… four woodland friends
Will Tuckett’s stunning dance, song, music and puppetry take on The Wind In The Willows returns to the West End for the second year running. Featuring incredible design and a cast of hugely talented dancers to bring the much-loved characters of Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger to the stage, this year also boasts an appearance from Alan Titchmarsh as the narrator. Book to see this 2014 Olivier Award winner here.
On the fifth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… five go-old coins!
Sadly, we can’t make this a literal gift but the National Theatre’s Treasure Island will provide you with metaphorical richness. Directed by Polly Findlay, the mastermind behind Derren Brown’s award-winning Svengali, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic swashbuckling tale will be brought to life with all its adventurous spirit for everyone aged 10 and older. And the holly on the mince pie? It stars Doctor Who and Broadchurch’s Arthur Darvill. Book tickets through us here.
On the sixth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… six-ty minutes a-laughing
Horrible Histories is back in the West End with its hugely successful Barmy Britain Part II. While not everyone will equate Christmas with gross facts and disgusting tales, if you’re looking for a family show that breaks from the norm, this refreshingly funny and grimy show may be just the thing! Head to the Garrick Theatre to meet everyone from Queen Boudicca to Dick Turpin and enjoy a Horrible Christmas with this long-time favourite. Book tickets through us here.
On the seventh day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… seven minutes of tap dance
Yes, that’s right, a seven minute tap routine is just one of the reasons to see the West End’s only festively themed musical, White Christmas. You need another? It stars Aled Jones – yes, Walking In The Air Aled Jones – and Tom Chambers, and does exactly what it says on the tin. It offers a charming celebration of friendship, music and, of course, snow. For the only guarantee of a white Christmas this year, book tickets through us here.
On the eighth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… eight scissors snipping
Film fans will revel in Matthew Bourne’s dance adaptation of Tim Burton’s touching, dark romance Edward Scissorhands. Featuring the original music by Danny Elfman, head to Sadler’s Wells to immerse yourself in the strange and wonderful story of the man left unfinished by his creator, an outsider to all but one suburban family who take him in with unexpected consequences. Book tickets through us here.
On the ninth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… nine Women teetering
If this list is already making you feel panicked about your own Christmas shopping lists, Christmas cakes to make and Christmas trees to decorate, take a breather and de-stress in the best way possible – some good old fashioned revelling in other people’s drama as Tamsin Greig, Haydn Gwynne, Anna Skellern, Willemijn Verkaik, Seline Hizli, Marianne Benedict, Holly James, Rebecca McKinnis, Sarah Moyle and co teeter on the edge in a brand new musical. Adding to its escapist appeal, Pedro Almodóvar’s Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown will transport you to Spain for the heart-breaking and comical story of a group of women struggling for control over their lives. Book tickets through us here.
On the tenth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… 10 mice a-fighting
It’s a festive staple and no respectable Christmas theatrical list would be complete without it. We are, of course, talking about The Nutcracker and this year the English National Ballet is bringing its version to the glittering London Coliseum. With its beautiful auditorium and iconic surroundings, it’s the perfect venue for a Christmas treat whether you’re looking for a romantic outing for two or a family trip out. So join Clara, her Nutcracker and the army of mice and pirouette down to St Martin’s Lane after booking tickets through us here.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… 11 snowmen shimmying
Speaking of festive classics, The Snowman is back this yuletide. If you’re yet to catch Birmingham Repertory Theatre‘s perennial festive favourite, make sure this is the year you do. Playing at its West End home, the Peacock Theatre, the stunning, fun-packed show brings Raymond Briggs’ wintery landscape to magical, Christmassy life. Find out for yourself why this show has played more than 15 successful festive seasons by seeing it this year.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, OLT gave to me… 12 Jellicles jigging
Cats is back. One of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best loved productions, the Trevor Nunn-directed show ran for a staggering 21 yearsfollowing its premiere in 1981. Playing at the London Palladium for a limited run, the show still boasts the same incredible choreography and songs adapted from T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, but with the added bonus of one brand new hip hop number and a star in the form of former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. Book tickets through us now here.
Of course there are also a whole host of shows playing in London this Christmas that have not opened just in time for the festive season. You can see a complete list of what’s on sale in the West End this yuletide here.