Have yourself a Nutcracking Christmas

I remember taking my eldest daughter to her first ballet aged five and seeing the look of wonderment and excitement on her face. To this day, as a grown up, she’ll be in the auditorium if Nutcracker is in town.

At the opposite end of the artistic scale, amateur pantos were always a source of private dread for me. As a junior reporter on a local newspaper years ago I endured some awful productions. Fluffed lines, terrible jokes, tortuous singing and bits of scenery – and actors – falling over … I couldn’t wait for the final curtain.

Nevertheless it was company policy to encourage local drama groups, so all my reviews  contained key phrases such as ‘a sparkling performance’ … ‘an interesting debut’ … ‘stunning costumes’. What fibs!

A far happier experience is in store, I suspect, for families booking a rather more lavish professional pantomime this festive season.

Aladdin at Wimbledon

I for one wouldn’t mind seeing comic Jo Brand’s panto debut in Aladdin at the New Wimbledon Theatre (to January 12). She’ll be gliding on stage as Genie of the Lamp, with Matthew Kelly as Widow Twankey. 

Jack and the Beanstalk in Cardiff

Another star of the stand-up circuit, Julian Clary will be camping it up in Cardiff. He’s playing Spirit of the Beans in Jack and the Beanstalk at the New Theatre (to January 19).

Dick Whittington at Dunstable

Soap stars Ryan Moloney (Neighbours) becomes Idle Jack and Leslie Grantham (Eastenders’ ‘Dirty Den’) Dirty Rat in Dick Whittington at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre (to January 5).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Birmingham

Another escapee from Eastenders, John Partridge, joins fashion guru Gok Wan who seems appropriately cast as The Man in the Mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That’s at the Birmingham Hippodrome (to February 2).

Plymouth in Nottingham

Suave Nigel Havers pops up in Plymouth as a baddie. He’s the Sheriff of Nottingham at the Theatre Royal’s production of Robin Hood, alongside Lee Mead as Robin and Bobby Davro as Will Scarlett (to January 25).

Nutcracker in London

If you prefer high leaps to laughs, how about pirouetting along to a top ballet production? They don’t come much better than English National Ballet and they’re currently staging the Christmas family favourite Nutcracker at the London Coliseum (to January 5).

Cinderella in Leeds

In Leeds the splendid Northern Ballet will be ensuring Cinderella gets to the ball at the Grand Theatre. Those who’d like to make a special night of it can book a Christmas package at Rudding Park Hotel at nearby Harrogate which includes a pre-theatre meal in the Clocktower restaurant, premium seats at the show and overnight accommodation. The price is £305 per couple (to January 4).
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