Catching a Christmas show at a London theatre is one of the city’s rightfully-heralded yuletide traditions. With some of the world’s most acclaimed live performance production houses based here, it’s no wonder that every year excitement surrounds the festive programmes that light-up London’s venues.
There’s so much going on it’s difficult to narrow it down to just 10 shows, but here is a brief look ahead to some of the treats set to unfold on the London stage this Christmas.
- Peter Pan | New Wimbledon Theatre | 5th December – 10th January | Tickets
Pantomimes have to live with a reputation for wooden acting, ham-fisted jokes, and over-the-top silliness, but that’s all part of the fun! What other show manages to get a packed crowd of 1000 + (young and old) screaming at the stage? The New Wimbledon Theatre always goes large with its panto, and with Peter Pan getting the treatment this year, you’d be a fool to miss it. Hackney Empire’s pantomime is always a great bet too!
- Wonder.Land | National Theatre | Until 15th March | Tickets
If you’re looking for something big, bold and theatrically innovative, you could do a lot worse than check out Damon Albarn (of Blur) and Rufus Norris’ new show. After premiering at the Manchester International Festival earlier this year, this musical and techno-digital retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story promises to be a real visual spectacle.
- La Soiree | Spiegeltent on the Southbank | Until 17th January | Tickets
If you’ve never seen La Soiree (pictured; top), just go. The traditional vaudevillian variety show gets dragged into the 21st Century with this procession of wild, wonderful, and danger-defying cabaret performances. It’s funny, sexy (not suitable for children, this one), and physically breath-taking. La Soiree has been entertaining packed audiences the world-over for over 5 years now (even longer if you include its previous incarnation – La Clique), so make sure you catch its latest London run.
- Sofie Hagen – Bubblewrap | Soho Theatre | 10th December – 6th January | Tickets
Danish stand-up Sofie Hagen picked up the Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year, so whilst this isn’t as tinsel-draped as other shows, it would be difficult to beat Bubblewrap for pure minute-to-minute laughs. Hagen regales the story of her Westlife-obsessed childhood, her self-reflective journey into young adulthood, and the flaws and insecurities picked up along the way. This is an immensely warm and sophisticated introduction to an exciting new comedic voice.
- A Christmas Carol | Noel Coward Theatre | 30th November – 30th January | Tickets
If you’re looking for the quintessential London Christmas experience, look no further than Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Broadbent. Making his long-awaited return to the London stage in the grumpy guise of Ebenezer Scrooge, Broadbent is set to further confirm his status as a true national treasure in this classic tale of greed, ghosts, and redemption.
- Around The World in 80 Days | St James Theatre | 26th November – 17th January | Tickets
When it comes to performative-dexterity, watching eight actors transform into over 100 different characters is just the ticket. In this adaptation of Jules Verne’s swashbuckling adventure, the small cast do exactly that, morphing into the vast array of peculiar individuals encountered by Phileas Fogg and Passepartout on their breakneck adventure. Unadulterated family fun.
There are a lot of children’s shows doing the rounds at this time of year – some of them hit, a lot of them miss – but Wild Ivy Theatre’s production of The Snow Queen is the show that’s caught our eye. Hans Christian Anderson’s much-loved fairytale receives a stage adaptation from an exciting new devising company that have crafted a show full of warmth, imagination, and song. If you have young children this could be a great choice – it’s suitable for ages 3 and up.
- The Nutcracker | Royal Opera House | 8th December – 14th January | Tickets
Performed by The Royal Ballet, with Ivanov’s timeless choreography, and set to Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score, this promises to be a true theatrical event from start-to-finish. Presented in the glittering surroundings of The Royal Opera House, The Nutcracker offers a truly authentic experience of tradition, classicism and prestige. No wonder it’s almost sold out.
- Tim Key – Father Slutmas | Arts Theatre | 16th – 19th December | Tickets
Don’t ask us to explain the lewd show title (he does that far better himself here), but this is going to be a real treat. Comedian Tim Key rolls out his shambolic, beer-guzzling, poet-persona for a Christmas-themed show at the West End’s Arts Theatre. You may recognise him from Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and the latest series of Peep Show, amongst other things, but it’s in a live setting that he demonstrates his reputation as a true comic innovator.
- The Snowman | Peacock Theatre | Until 3rd January | Tickets
Like a few others on this list, Sadler’s Wells The Snowman offers a theatrical re-telling of a classic narrative. Raymond Briggs’ book (and subsequent animation) is reimagined as a magical live dance spectacle. The cartoon has a distinctive dance-like feel to it, so it’s no wonder the Birmingham Rep had the bright idea to turn it into a piece for the stage back in 1993 (Sadler’s Wells have been bringing it to London every year since 1997). Joyous, oh-so-fleeting, and highly recommended.
Here at City Academy we’re running our own season of Christmas shows, performed by our in-house dance, choral, and musical theatre companies. Click here for more details.