BroadwayWorld's Top Christmas Picks For London Theatre
Christmas is upon us, and the capital, as usual, is serving up a veritable feast of festive offerings. Here are some of London's finest...
Following last year's grand return of panto to the Palladium, we've got another star-studded affair: Dick Whittington features Elaine Paige, Charlie Stemp, Emma Williams, Julian Clary and dance crew Diversity (9 Dec-14 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
The reliably excellent Joel Horwood reimagines Jack and the Beanstalk for Lyric Hammersmith, with Cherelle Skeete as the Fairy Godmother (18 Nov-6 Jan, 2018; book tickets), while Hackney Empire continues its run of galvanising contemporary updates with Susie McKenna's Cinderella, starring West End leading lady Aisha Jawando (18 Nov-31 Dec; book tickets).
Jack Thorne adapts Dickens' beloved A Christmas Carol for the Old Vic, with Rhys Ifans giving us his no doubt idiosyncratic Scrooge (20 Nov-20 Jan, 2018; book tickets). And speaking of big, Peter Pan at Wembley Arena boasts serious scale: a cast of over 100, a 60ft-wife LED screen, and a 25ft crocodile (20-30 Dec; book tickets).
Other festive treats include Jack and the Beanstalk at New Wimbledon Theatre (9 Dec-14 Jan, 2018; book tickets), Aladdin at Richmond Theatre (9 Dec-14 Jan, 2018; book tickets), Rapunzel at Theatre Royal Stratford East (27 Nov-13 Jan, 2018; book tickets), A Christmas Carol at Middle Temple Hall (22-30 Dec; book tickets), Thirty Christmases at New Diorama Theatre (4-23 Dec; book tickets), and The Little Match Girl at Tabard Theatre (7-31 Dec; book tickets).
And - last but not least - over at the National, Cursed Child director John Tiffany and Matilda adaptor Dennis Kelly bring their theatrical magic to the Disney classic Pinocchio (1 Dec-7 Apr, 2018; book tickets).
The school hols will fly by with kid-friendly shows like Tall Stories' Wilde Creatures at Vaudeville Theatre, in which storytelling musicians guide you through the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde (ages 5+; 15-31 Dec; book tickets).
Tall Stories also brings us The Gruffalo's Child at Lyric Theatre, a musical version of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's monstrously successful book (ages 3+; 22 Nov-7 Jan, 2018; book tickets), and the literary duo has another show in town: the stage adaptation of Stick Man at Leicester Square Theatre, featuring puppetry, songs and funky moves (all ages; until 7 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
Nativity! The Musical sees a popular family film brought to stage, starring Daniel Boys, Simon Lipkin and - at Eventim Apollo - X Factor's Louis Walsh (ages 2+; 13-17 Dec; book tickets). While over at Ovalhouse, a polar bear befriends a husky in interactive show Breaking The Ice (ages 2-6; 13-23 Dec; book tickets).
Once Upon a Snowflake at Chelsea Theatre uses shadow puppetry to follow the journey of missing Liza and the Winter Sprites (ages 3+; 30 Nov-22 Dec; book tickets), there's a blizzard of fun at Slava's Snowshow at the Royal Festival Hall (ages 8+; 18 Dec-4 Jan, 2018; book tickets), and Rose Theatre Kingston's Alice in Winterland adapts Lewis Carroll for an intrepid musical adventure (ages 5+; 7 Dec-7 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
The Snow Queen at Polka Theatre creates a winder wonderland based on Hans Christian Andersen's fable (ages 5-11; 17 Nov-4 Feb, 2018; book tickets), Wilton's Music Hall adapts John Masfield's The Box of Delights (ages 8+, 1 Dec-6 Jan, 2018, book tickets), and another classic tale comes to life in The Velveteen Rabbit at Unicorn Theatre (ages 5+; 17 Nov-31 Dec; book tickets).
Finally, The Showstoppers' Christmas Kids Show at Christmas in Leicester Square transforms children's ideas into interactive musical adventures (ages 6+; until 30 Dec; book tickets).
LIFE IS A CABARET
Christmas in Leicester Square is also the first stop for cabaret-lovers. It's where you'll find Fascinating Aida, Black Cat Cabaret, House of Burlesque, Al Murray's take on variety, Christina Bianco, The Horne Section, Emma Hatton and Anthony Strong's Baby It's Cold Outside, and Velma Celli (full details here).
La Soiree, usually housed in a pop-up theatre, graduates to the Aldwych for its festive run - but promises the same saucy mix of cabaret, burlesque, circus and variety (24 Nov-3 Feb, 2018; book tickets). Also at the Aldwych, there's an afternoon version, La Petite Soiree - all the fun, but family-friendly (25 Nov-3 Feb, 2018; book tickets).
And The Barricade Boys have a stonking line-up at The Other Palace, with West End guests including Rachel Tucker, Killian Donnelly, Oliver Savile, Michael Xavier and Jacinta Whyte (5-23 Dec; book tickets).
THOSE DANCING FEET
There are plenty of dance highlights this winter, including the 20th year of The Snowman - the modern-classic Raymond Briggs adaptation, returning to the Peacock Theatre (23 Nov-31 Dec; book tickets).
It wouldn't be Christmas without The Nutcracker, and there are two gems to choose from. In English National Ballet's version at London Coliseum, over 100 dancers and musicians create true spectacle (13 Dec-6 Jan, 2018; book tickets here), while at the Opera House, the Royal Ballet celebrates first love in Peter Wright's enchanting production (5 Dec-20 Jan, 2018; book tickets here).
Cirque du Soleil is back at the Albert Hall with the colourful Ovo in the New Year (7 Jan-4 Mar, 2018; book tickets), Sergei Polunin's Project Polunin comes to London Coliseum (5-9 Dec; book tickets), and it's your last chance to catch the award-winning Stomp at Ambassador's Theatre, finally closing after 15 years in the West End (until 7 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
Another West End favourite due to close soon is An American in Paris - don't miss Christopher Wheeldon's gorgeous Gershwin musical at Dominion Theatre (until 6 Jan, 2018; book tickets). Plus Meera Syal takes over as Miss Hannigan for the festive season of Annie at Piccadilly Theatre (until 18 Feb, 2018; book tickets).
Or try the razzle-dazzle of Dreamgirls at the Savoy (until 10 Feb, 2018; book tickets), toe-tapping 42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (until 20 Oct, 2018; book tickets), jazz-hot Five Guys Named Moe at Marble Arch Theatre (until 17 Feb, 2018; book tickets), high-octane School of Rock at New London Theatre (until 13 Jan, 2019; book tickets), deliciously macabre The Grinning Man at Trafalgar Studios (6 Dec-17 Feb, 2018; book tickets), or side-splitting Young Frankenstein at the Garrick (until 29 Sept, 2018; book tickets).
Plus there are plenty of long-running London hits that would make great festive viewing, from moving paean to friendship Wicked at the Apollo Victoria (book tickets), enthralling epic Les Misérables at Queen's Theatre (book tickets) or genie-us Aladdin at Prince Edward Theatre (book tickets), to the fabulous Kinky Boots at Adelphi Theatre (book tickets), ABBA-tastic Mamma Mia! at the Novello (book tickets), daring Book of Mormon at Prince of Wales Theatre (book tickets), or uproarious The Comedy About A Bank Robbery at Criterion Theatre (book tickets).
'Tis the season to enjoy everything London theatre has to offer!