BroadwayWorld's Top Christmas Picks For The Midlands
Christmas is coming, and along with the lists of food to buy and presents to wrap, there's the traditional conundrum about which Christmas show to go and see.
Fear not - BroadwayWorld has been checking out what's on around the Midlands this festive season. Hint: Cinderella is *really* popular this year.
Let's start in Birmingham, where the Hippodrome has Birmingham Royal Ballet's Nutcracker until mid December (24 Nov-13 Dec; book tickets), followed by their Christmas panto - Cinderella, starring Beverley Knight, Danny Mac and Suzanne Shaw, with Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall as the Ugly Sisters (19 Dec-28 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
At the Rep, it's 101 Dalmatians - adapted by Debbie Isitt, writer and director of the Nativity! films, and directed by Tessa Walker (30 Nov-13 Jan, 2018; book tickets). Over at the New Alexandra, the UK tour of Jersey Boys is touching down for the festive season (16 Dec-6 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
Up the road in Wolverhampton, Gareth Gates is the headliner at the Grand. He's Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk, alongside Lisa Riley, Graham Cole (PC Tony Stamp in The Bill for 25 years) and local internet star Doreen Tipton (9 Dec-14 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
In Northampton, the Royal has a new version of The Jungle Book (28 Nov-31 Dec; book tickets), adapted by Jessica Swale (Nell Gwynn) with music by Joe Stilgoe and directed by Max Webster (The Old Vic's The Lorax). It's a co-production with Children's Touring Partnership, and will go on tour around the UK - starting at Chichester Festival Theatre - after its Northampton run.
Next door in the Derngate, it's a celeb-filled panto - with Paul Nicholas, Sheila Ferguson and Union J's Jaymi Hensley starring in Aladdin (8-31 Dec; book tickets). And for the under-7s and their grown-ups, in the Underground there's also an adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk's The Singing Mermaid with songs by Barb Junger, in association with Little Angels Theatre (2 Dec-13 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
LEICESTER AND COVENTRY
Back up the M1, it's Lesley Bricusse's Scrooge: the Musical for Leicester Curve, directed by their artistic director Nikolai Foster and starring Jasper Britton as Scrooge and Karen Mann as Marley (18 Nov-7 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
Meanwhile, at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry, legendary panto dame Iain Lauchlan is gearing up for his 23rd pantomime. This time it's Cinderella, which he's written and is directing, along with starring as one half of the Ugly Sisters - Greg Powrie is the other (22 Nov-13 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
Nottingham Playhouse has also picked Cinderella this Christmas, written by Kenneth Alan Taylor and with a cast led by Benjamin McMillan (Wonderland), Adam Pettigrew (Wicked and Avenue Q) and Kelly Agredo (1 Dec-20 Jan, 2018; book tickets).
And although I think the residents would object to being called Midlands, I'm including it anyway: Milton Keynes Theatre is also doing Cinderella (9 Dec-14 Jan, 2018; book tickets). Their stars are Brian Conley - fresh from his stint on Strictly Come Dancing - with Gok Wan and Lauren Hall (Mr. Henderson Presents and Gypsy in the West End, and Annie Get Your Gun in Sheffield).
So, with traditional pantomimes, new adaptations of old favourites and musicals, there's something for pretty much all tastes in the Midlands this Christmas. But if you're looking for a production of Dick Whittington, you might have to go a bit further afield!