The Christmas Show-ho!-ho! Guide
It's panto season. Oh no it isn't! Oh yes it is! Oh no....it isn't OK, enough!
Ready or not, here come the most fabulous family-friendly festive productions and pantos in our patch!
Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick campus, Coventry, Wed Nov 27 – Sun Dec 29
A bloomin’ brilliant festive treat for children aged 3 to six-years-old and their families! This critically acclaimed production by London’s Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Pins and Needles follows Briggs’ grumpy but lovable Father Christmas as he gets ready for his busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve. First published in 1973, Father Christmas won Briggs the annual Kate Greenaway Medal for best children’s book illustration (his second win). The author went on to write and draw many other acclaimed books for children, including The Snowman, Fungus The Bogeyman, Ug: Boy Genius Of The Stone Age, and The Bear.
Tel: 024 7652 4524 or see: warwickartscentre
Puss in Boots, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed 27 Nov until Sat 11 Jan
Once again written and directed by Iain Lauchlan, who stars as Dame Matilda Pudding, this year’s show marks Lauchlan’s 25th year in panto at the Belgrade. Best known as the writer of the BAFTA-winning series The Tweenies, Lauchlan will be joined by long-term comedy partner-in-crime Craig Hollingsworth as Matilda’s son, Simon for some more seasonal silliness. It also stars Miriam Grace Edwards as Princess Sophia – who’s previously performed in a number of alternative B2 pantos – and David Gilbrook as her father, King Colin, supported by a Junior Chorus of local kids aged 9-16.
Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Nov 8 – Mar 2020
This new musical, based on the best-selling children’s novel by David Walliams, features 16 original compositions by Robbie Williams and his long-term writing partner Guy Chambers. It’s directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and adapted by former RSC writer-in-residence Mark Ravenhill. Tickets are half price for children – up to four can go with one adult.
Box Office: 01789 331111, RSC
Peter Pan, Birmingham Rep Theatre, Sat 30 Nov – Jan 19 2020.
Following his modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz at Birmingham Rep Theatre last year, Olivier Award-winning director and choreographer Liam Steel returns to direct a new visually spectacular 21st century version of J. M. Barrie’s story set in Brum with lots of aerial flying, puppetry, a giant man-eating crocodile and sprinkle of fairy dust. Suitable for ages 7+.
The Festival of Lost & Found, Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, Wed Dec 11-15
A charming midwinter theatrical experience for all the family by Coventry-based theatre company, Talking Birds on the site of Shakespeare’s final home. Go on a journey in search of lost delights wandering through stalls and tents, meeting time-travelling show people as they share stories and display their wares. All performances will be captioned (subtitled) using the Difference Engine with a BSL-interpreted performance at 6pm on Sat Dec 14.
Snow White, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Sat Dec 7 – Sun Jan 5 2020
Mirror Mirror on the wall…it’s new drama school graduate Emma Marsh in her professional debut as Snow White and Tom Ling as Prince as Leamington’s Royal Spa Centre stages the fairest panto of them all. JP McCue is back for his eighth year joined by Sean Dodds for some more panto mayhem.
Tel: 01926 334 418, royalspacentreandtownhall
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Birmingham Hippodrome, Dec 21 – Feb 2 2020
Another outing with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs featuring sets and costumes direct from the London Palladium. The all-star line up features Lesley Joseph, Matt Slack, Joe McElderry, Faye Brookes, Flawless, Doreen Tipton and Andrew Ryan.
Santa’s Dizzy Day, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thur Dec 12 – Tues Dec 24
This interactive, song-filled festive family show returns for littlies aged two to six-years-old. It’s an ideal introduction to the magic of live theatre, with a chance for children to meet Father Christmas and receive an early Christmas present. Coventry-based Imagine Theatre’s popular Santa shows are fast becoming something of a seasonal tradition for Coventry families. Previous shows have included Santa’s Sparkly Surprise, Santa’s Mixed-Up Martian, Santa’s Polka dot Pirate and Santa’s Rusty Robot all written by Belgrade panto legend Iain Lauchlan, creator of the BAFTA-winning children’s TV series The Tweenies.
Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, The Alexandra, Birmingham, Tue Dec 3 – Sat Dec 7
A musical inspired by Dr. Seuss’s wacky story set in the whimsical world of Whoville. Max the Dog narrates the story of the scheming Grinch whose heart is ‘two sizes too small,’ as he decides to steal Christmas away from the Whos. This production is based on the Broadway show originally created by three-time Tony Award-winning director Jack O’Brien.
The Snow Queen, Albany Theatre, Coventry, Mon Dec 9 – Sat Dec 28
Ceridwen Theatre Company is very much a family affair with Snow Queen actor Helena Devereux, sister Nadia and brother Lyon taking on roles from producing and adapting to acting on stage – all under the direction of Vivian Lesley Jones, their mother. They will be joined on stage by members of local dance academy, Street Mix. School, matinee and evening performances now booking. Two access performances include a Relaxed performance on Thurs Dec 12 Dec at 1pm & a BSL signed show on Tues Dec 17 at 1pm.
Tel: 02476 99 89 64, albanytheatre
AND ONE FOR THE GROWN-UPS…
Club 2B, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, 11 Dec -31 Dec
This year in place of Nick Walker’s inventive alternative adult pantos, the intriguing sounding Club2B throws open its doors. An immersive theatrical party offering a festive experience like no other, taking you on a trip through time with enigmatic host and club owner, “Z”. Seated at cabaret-style tables in the Belgrade’s flexible B2 auditorium, audiences have the freedom to get up and explore the room as the immersive performance unfolds, complete with food, drink, live music, gaming tables, a photo booth and more. Be prepared to meet real and fictional characters from Lady Godiva to the Great Gatsby and Marilyn Monroe.
Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, club2b
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, London Palladium, Sat 7 Dec – Sun 12 Jan
This is like fantasy panto casting. I mean, seriously, does it get better than this? Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot and – well who cares about the rest, I’m sold. lwtheatres.co.uk
Dick Whittington and his Cat, Hackney Empire, Sat 23 Nov – Sun 5 Jan
The unashamed home of Panto has chosen Dick Whittington and his Cat for this year’s festive offering. Olivier award-winner and panto dame extraordinaire Clive Rowe stars in his 13th panto for the theatre alongside Hamilton’s Tarinn Callender in the leading role. hackneyempire.co.uk
Pinocchio on Ice, Alexandra Palace, Fri 13 – Mon 16 Dec
A panto but with a few triple salchows thrown in for good measure. This show features pro skaters, a mix of modern and traditional music, a performance from a West End star and lashings of festive spirit all performed on Ally Pally’s ice rink. alexandrapalace.com