IT'S SHOW TIME!
Nativity! The Musical at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith (13-17 Dec) is a new musical based on the 2009 British comedy film starring Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen. Adapted for the stage by director Debbie Isitt, the show features new songs and familiar ones such as Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth, One Night One Moment and She’s the Brightest Star, and stars Daniel Boys (Avenue Q), Sarah Earnshaw (Wicked, Spamalot) and Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages, Guys and Dolls). The farcical plot follows primary school teacher Mr Maddens (Boys), who dreamt of being an actor or director. He settles for putting on a musical nativity at St Bernadette’s School, with the help of his childlike teaching assistant, Mr Poppy (Lipkin). Maddens promises his students a Hollywood producer will see the show – so what could possibly go wrong?
As midnight strikes in a Victorian home, a magical Christmas tree grows and Clara’s nutcracker doll and its army of toy soldiers come to life – sweeping the little girl into an enchanting winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes in the magical Kingdom of the Sweets. Even if you’ve seen The Nutcracker (28-31 Dec) before, the Royal Albert Hall’s bespoke staging, lighting and new projections from a team that worked on London 2012’s Olympic opening ceremony will leave you in awe. As well as 75kg of artificial snow, you’ll be wowed by elaborate period costumes and Tchaikovsky’s original score, which is performed by a full orchestra and 70 Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers for the first time at the hall. Meanwhile, New Adventures – the team behind the hit ballet The Red Shoes – returns to Sadler’s Wells for Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella (from 9 Dec), a fairytale love story set in London during World War II. A chance meeting brings Cinderella together with a handsome RAF pilot, just before they’re parted because of the Blitz. A recording of an original score by a 60-piece orchestra brings the story to life.
Since it premiered in 1994 in Edinburgh, Slava’s Snowshow (from 18 Dec) has toured the globe. It’s now returning to the Royal Festival Hall for a fifth season. The artistic director of the St Petersburg Circus, Slava Polunin, leads the theatrical spectacle, with clowns, giant balls and cobwebs. The highlight is a blizzard that will leave you knee-deep in snow
– and that’s snow joke! Suitable for over-eights; children under three are not permitted.
Celebrating 20 years on stage, the classic children’s tale The Snowman (to 31 Dec) is showing at The Peacock. Based on the book by Raymond Briggs, it follows a boy who meets a magical snowman. Howard Blake’s music and lyrics – including Walking in the Air – will give you goosebumps.
Meanwhile, Matthew Warchus directs Charles Dickens’ timeless classic A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic (to 20 Jan) in a new adaptation by Jack Thorne. Set on Christmas Eve in London, it follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted miser, as he is visited by ghosts who transport him to the past, present and future – forcing him to confront his selfishness. Finally realising why he’s lonely, he vows to change his ways. Rhys Ifans stars as Scrooge, while Jamie Cameron plays a younger version.
Disney fans, make time to see Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure at The O2 (20-30 Dec). Go early for the pre-show party, with music, magic shows, Caribbean beats, pirates and the chance to warm up at a Fit to Dance workshop. Once the show starts, you can meet all your favourite characters including Mickey and Minnie Mouse as you watch ice skaters loop and jump around on the ice. The show is set to Academy Award-winning musical scores and features many much-loved characters. Meet Simba, Timon and Pumbaa in Africa, Ariel in her underwater kingdom, Peter Pan and Wendy in London, Tinker Bell in Neverland and sisters Anna and Elsa in Frozen’s winter wonderland.
What could possibly be more British than a good old-fashioned panto? Joel Horwood’s Jack and the Beanstalk (to 6 Jan) at the Lyric Hammersmith is a fairytale about a boy who sells his only cow in return for some magic beans. His mother is furious, and, in her temper, throws the beans out of the window – only for them to grow into an enormous beanstalk with a castle at the top, which is home to an evil giant. This fun-packed show is suitable for children aged six and above, who will love the talking animals, songs, magic, sweets and snow.