Round up of the best Christmas shows
Never mind buying Christmas presents or organising your diary for the party season the important question is – have you booked your panto yet? Here on Muddy we take the art of panto very seriously (oh yes we do), and will travel some distance to get to the best one! Whether you like classic ‘oh-no-you’re-not-oh-yes-you-are’ comedy slapstick or something a little more thought provoking (yes, I’ve found one that is), there’s a show for you this Christmas. Choose your favourite and get booking…
Around the World in 80 Days, The Brewhouse, Taunton, Sat 10-Sat 31 Dec
The Guinness world record holder circumnavigated the world in 66 hours but he flew by plane and didn’t have to deal with Big Game Hunter Captain Fix, the Nizam Cannibals or Jesse James along the way. There wasn’t much singing or dancing either. Expect all of the above in this production of the Jules Verne classic starring Derek Frood (aka Poldark‘s Captain Bray) and local talent. Phineas Fogg and Passepartout travel by Chinese junk, hot air balloon and an elephant as they attempt to travel around the world in 80 days. Father Christmas will be turning up in another Brewhouse musical show Santa in Love running from Sun 4-Weds 7 Dec.
Robin Hood, the egg, Bath, Thurs 8 Dec – Sun 15 Jan 2017
Robin Hood’s tongue is as sharp as his swashbuckling sword as he fights for justice, outwits the Sheriff of Nottingham and woos Maid Marian. All the parts are played by just four merry men who are accompanied by an all female ska-band. Don’t know what’s happened to his arm in this pic though? Accident in rehearsal with his swashbuckling sword?
Snow Queen, Bristol Old Vic, Bristol, Fri 2 Dec – Sun 15 Jan 2017This is the thought-provoking one: Gerda and Kai have grown up surrounded by love and immersed in the tradition of storytelling and folk music but when children start disappearing from the village, the tale of the mysterious Snow Queen becomes all too real. Then Kai goes missing and Gerda sets out on a dangerous journey to save her friend before the Snow Queen destroys his heart. A coming-of-age tale celebrating the things that make us different and the value of true friendship – aaaw.
Peter Pan, The Octagon, Yeovil, Fri 2 Dec – Sun 1 Jan 2017
Meet the boy who never grew up (think we all know some of those), sensible Wendy, Capn’ Hook, the croc with the clock and the Lost Boys (played by local talent) in The Octagon’s Christmas spectacular. There’s a relaxed performance on Tues 6 Dec, signed show on Fri 9 Dec and a Stagetext captioned show on Sun 1 Jan.
Cinderella: a Fairytale, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, Fri 2 Dec-Sun 22 Jan 2017
This Olivier-nominated production is an original take (I mean, look at her glass slippers) on a well-loved story. When Ella’s mother dies, she’s brought up by her devoted and loving father, who teaches her the names and calls of the woodland birds around their home and life is good. But then her father marries again (dah, dah, daaaaaaah…)
Beauty and the Beast, The Playhouse, Weston-super-Mare, Sat 10 Dec – Sun 1 Jan 2017
The show stars John Challis (Boycie from Only Fools and Horses) and promises more jokes than a box of Christmas crackers, with a beautiful heroine, wicked witch, Prince turned into a Beast, a mad cap inventor and the Muscles from Brussels (someone from the EU Commission perhaps?).
Cinderella, Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol, Sat 10 Dec – Sun 8 Jan 2017
If you prefer your Cinderella to be more traditional, then head up to the Bristol Hippodrome where Torvill & Dean star as the fairy godparents in this all singing, some dancing and a fair bit of skating, family extravaganza. Oh and there are real Shetland ponies, too.
Aladdin, Theatre Royal, Bath, Thurs 8 Dec-Sun 8 Jan 2017
Traditional panto packed with comedy slapstick, singing, dancing, colourful costumes and sets and, of course, plenty of audience participation. Soap and TV stars star: Bill Ward (Coronation Street and Emmerdale) is the wicked magician, Nick Wilton (Eastenders) is Widow Twanky, Mark Rhodes (Big Friday Wind-up, Copycats) is Aladdin.
Cinderella. London Palladium, Sat 10 Dec – Sun 15 Jan 2017
If it’s a star-studded cast you’re after, head to London for Cinderella. Paul O’Grady is the Wicked Stepmother, Amanda Holden is the Fairy Godmother, Julian Clary is Dandini, Lee Mead is Prince Charming, Nigel Havers is Lord Chamberlain and Count Arthur Strong is Baron Hardup. It’s the first panto in almost 30 years to grace the stage at the Palladium, and they’re giving all they’ve got.
Sleeping Beauty, Hackney Empire, London, Sat 26 Nov – Sun 8 Jan 2017
The Hackney Empire panto is one of the most famous in London, having gone from rough and ready eastenders to the land of the beards and iphone7s. Susie McKenna and Steve Edis promise to bring this traditional fairytale bang up to date in its beautiul Victorian Theatre. No big names that I recognise (but I’ll stand corrected if you bellow at me!) but the Hackney Empire panto is always one of the most pro.