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The Muddy Christmas Show Guide 2018!

It's what you've all been waiting for. Oh no it isn't! Oh yes it is! Oh no.... OK, enough! Here's our guide to the best family-friendly shows and children's theatre this season.

 

THE PANTOS

Sleeping Beauty, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat Jan 5

Iain Laughlan’s Nanny McWheeze

After two royal weddings this year The Belgrade is gearing up for its own royal celebration with Princess Belle set to celebrate her 18th birthday. Featuring a time-portal, a time-travelling dame and a dragon, this festive family panto directed by and starring the fabulously funny Tweenies creator Iain Lauchlan as Nanny McWheeze has glittering over-the-top sets,  a very messy birthday cake bake-off and a great visual gag involving a balloon and a ballet routine! Unmissable family fun.

This year’s Making Memories campaign is again up-and-running raising money for 140 families experiencing hardship to see the show. Donations can be made via Local Giving at localgiving or call the box office. Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

 

Dick Whittington, Royal Spa Centre & Town Hall, Leamington Spa, until Sun Dec 30

Panto favourites JP McCue and Sean Dodds will be returning for a fifth year. JP will be donning his fabulous frocks and killer heels as Dame Dolly  Fitzwarren and Sean will be starring as Silly Simon in this festive family production by Imagine Theatre. With some performances already sold out book early to avoid disappointment. Tel: 01926 334 418, royalspacentreandtownhall

 

Peter Pan, Birmingham Hippodrome, Wed Dec 19 – Sun Jan 27

This swashbuckling all-star panto sees Jimmy Osmond as Captain Hook, performing alongside the wonderful Meera Syal, plus Matt Slack, Union J’s Jaymi Hensley, Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Sascha Williams and acrobatic troupe The Timbuktu Tumblers. Expect amazing flying effects and a sprinkling of magic fairy dust. birminghamhippodrome

 

Sleeping Beauty, Wolverhampton Grand, Sun Dec 8 – Jan 13

Photo credit: Adam Fradgley

Strictly Come Dancing star Debbie McGee plays Fairy Crystal with a cast including Richard Cadell and Sooty, panto faves Doreen Tipton and Ian Adams, who return in their third consecutive season, and West End star Oliver Ormson (Book of Mormon, The Addams Family) is the Prince in another Midlands adaptation of this classic fairytale, grandtheatre

 

FAMILY CHRISTMAS SHOWS

A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Tue Dec 4 – Jan 20

Photo-by-Manuel-Harlan

Bah, humbug! With a new cast for 2018 including Aden Gillett replacing Phil Davis as Scrooge and all the magic and Victorian styling of last year’s smash new adaption by David Edgar, this ‘magnificent & wonderful’ (Daily Telegraph) show is selling quickly and now only has best availability for January performances. A wonderful Victorian-themed festive treat with falling (pretend) snow! rsc

 

Mimbre’s Fierce Sisters, New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, Tue Dec 11 – Sat Dec 15

Photo credit: Adrian Burrows & Gorgeous Obsession using Tempest Cosmetics

Innovative London-based all-female acrobatic theatre group Mimbre will shine a light on the women of Shakespeare’s plays in a visually enthralling promenade performance in these contemporary sculpture gardens on the site of Shakespeare’s former home. Step into the world of Fierce Sisters, as they weave their spell with breathtaking acrobatics, evocative choreography and a modern soundtrack. Expect an energetic, witty and immersive take on how women are interpreted and portrayed, then and now.

Discounted preview tickets for Dec 11 available online, shakespeare.org.uk/fiercesistersmimbre.co.uk 

 

Tall Stories’ Wilde Creatures, Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick University campus, Coventry, Wed 28 Nov – Sun 30 Dec

From the company that brought you The Gruffalo, a motley crew of storytelling musicians bring Oscar Wilde’s classic fairy tales to life in Tall Stories’ magical 65-minute new show, direct from London’s West End. Characters from The Happy Prince and other stories spring to life as the pompous mayor, the petulant princess and the love-sick student compete to become the new town statue. A perfect festive treat for everyone aged 5 to 105. warwickartscentre

 

The Wizard of Oz, Birmingham REP, until Sun Jan 13

Follow the yellow rick road to the REP this Christmas!  Directed by Liam Steel, a core collaborator at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and choreographer on the Oscar-winning film version of Les Miserables he’s bringing a fresh, authentic take and a bit of sass to this glorious family musical. Chisara Agor plays a cool urban-style denim dungaree and Dr. Martin wearing Dorothy. Box Office: 0121 236 445, birmingham-rep.co.uk

 

The Canterville Ghost, Warwick Arts Centre, Tue Dec 18 – Sun Dec 23  & Thu Dec 27 – Sun Dec 30

Oscar Wilde’s spirited spectacular. Award-winning Tall Stories present this gruesome ghost story as re-imagined by a charismatic compare and his company – an illusionist, a comedian and a psychic! A darkly comic and marvellously musical show from award-winning Tall Stories – definitely not suited for under 12’s! 7pm. warwickartscentre

 

The Worst Witch, The Royal and Derngate, Northampton, until Sun Dec 30 

Danielle Bird in The Worst-Witch. Photo credit: Idil-Sukan

Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch stories have sold more than five million copies worldwide and been made into numerous films and TV series. The most recent and successful was by Emma Reeves, lead writer on the CBBC adaptation (Winner – Royal Television Society Award for Best Children’s TV Programme and 2017 British Screenwriters Award for Best Children’s Programme). She is now bringing these stories to life on the Royal stage in a major new play that will subsequently set off upon a national tour. Directed by Theresa Heskins, who has enchanted audiences for years with her festive shows. For ages 7+ royalandderngate

 

Elf – A Christmas Spectacular, Birmingham, The Genting Arena, Thurs Dec 20 – Mon Dec 24

Elf, the hit West End and Broadway musical based on the hilarious Hollywood film starring Will Ferrell, is to be supersized into a Christmas spectacular this December. Pop legend David Essex will play Buddy the Elf’s father; Love Actually star and singer Martine McCutcheon as Buddy’s girlfriend, Jovie; plus, comedy actor Tam Ryan as Buddy. Following huge public demand, 10,000 extra tickets have been released! gentingarena

 

Peter PanThe Albany Theatre, Coventry, Mon Dec 10 – Sat Dec 22

Wendy & Peter Pan

Take a trip to Neverland at The Albany this Christmas in a show full of swashbuckling pirate shenanigans, a cranky, clock-eating crocodile, a skittish version of Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and some gender-fluidity with Peter Pan played by East 15 Acting School graduate, Nadia Devereux.

There will be a BSL signed show on Thur Dec 13, 7pm and a Relaxed performance on Wed Dec 19 December, 7pm. Tel: 02476 99 89 64,  albanytheatre 

 

Twelfth Night, The Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa, Wed Dec 5 – Sat Dec 15

Photo by Richard Smith Photography

Leamington’s top am dram theatre company has chosen to stage Shakespeare’s comedy as a Christmas play – a tale of mistaken identities, bewildering desires, practical jokes and revelry. At its heart it’s a story of unrequited love – both comic and heartbreaking. Book via lofttheatrecompany.com, or by emailing boxoffice@lofttheatrecompany.com, Tel: 01926 830680.  

 

FESTIVE SHOWS FOR ‘LITTLIES’

Santa’s Sparkly Surprise, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed Dec 12 – Mon Dec 24

Ellie the Elf from last year’s Santa’s Mixed-up Martian

Imagine Theatre’s fifth festive show specially created for preschoolers, drawing on the expertise of Belgrade panto legend Iain Lauchlan who’s playing panto dame on the main stage. Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

 

Emily and the Thing, Patrick Studio,  Birmingham Hippodrome, Mon Dec 17 – Jan 6

Created for the stage by Tall Stories (The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale) this is an imaginative adaptation of the much-loved book by the award-winning duo Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon) and Neal Layton for children aged 3+.  The production has enjoyed sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, across the UK and appeared at the Sydney Opera House, in Melbourne, Brisbane, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. After Birmingham, the show will transfer to New York for a North American tour in 2019. Tel: 0844 338 5000. birminghamhippodrome.com 

 

BALLET

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Birmingham Hippodrome, Fri Nov 23 – Thur Dec 13

This world-famous BRB production by Sir Peter Wright, with exquisite designs by John Macfarlane has been part of the city’s Christmas tradition for more than 27 years. Enjoy Tchaikovsky’s fabulously festive ballet score, gigantic sets, lavish costumes, 60 dancers and a full orchestra. birminghamhippodrome

 

THE ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS PANTO FOR ADULTS

Over the Top, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Sat Dec 1 – Sat Dec 29

This has to be one of the funniest and silliest Christmas shows. Each year Coventry-based playwright Nick Walker outdoes himself with a new script inspired by the main stage panto such as his Beauty and the Beast-inspired comedy horror Vampomime, film noir spoof Private Dick Whittington, panto comedy crime caper Oh No It Isn’t! and 2017’s spaghetti Western-style The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Sisters. His sixth show deals with #FirstWorldWarProblems, following a group of fearless suffragettes who find themselves stuck behind enemy lines in 1918. A fab all-female cast directed by leading UK actor Katy Stephens. Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

 

5 OF THE BEST FURTHER AFIELD: 

Rumpelstiltskin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, Dec 13 – 6 Jan 

All the way from Australia for it’s UK premier, this performance of Rumplestiltskin is promising something different from your traditional stage show. On offer are funky costumes, super modern staging and a contemporary twist to the old fairy tale. Aussie cabaret king Paul Capsis is playing the big R. southbankcentre.co.uk

 

A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, Sat Nov 24 – Sat Jan 19 

This production of festive classic A Christmas Carol staged by The Old Vic’s artistic director Matthew Warchus had such great reviews last year that it’s returning for round two. Adapted by Jack Thorne, co-writer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 8+ it stars Stephen Tomkinson. oldvictheatre.com

 

Snow White, London Palladium, Sat 8 Dec – Sun Jan 13

Punchy and very funny cast, with Dawn French taking the starring role, accompanied with a fleckle heel by Strictly’s Vincent and Flavia, Broadway’s Charles Stemp and Over The Rainbow’s Danielle Hope. A dead cert. snowwhitepalladium.com

 

Aladdin, Hackney Empire, Sat Nov 24 – Sun Jan 6 

The unashamed home of panto, Hackney Empire’s in-house team celebrates its 20th birthday. Olivier Award-winner and panto dame extraordinaire Clive Rowe returns to Hackney Empire’s stage after a three year hiatus, alongside West End star Tameka Empson. hackneyempire.co.uk

 

The Christmassey Christmas Show of Christmassey Christmassness, Mill Art Centre, Banbury, Tues Dec 18

Winner of best show title, hands down! This show promises a whole bunch of craziness – slapstick, puppetry, comedy and quizzes. themillartscentre.co.uk

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