October 08, 2015
Here at Sternberg Clarke, we’d like to treat you with a gift-wrapped blog. Why? Because Christmas is coming of course! And what better to find under the Christmas tree than a ticket to a top London show. But which shows are flying into the West End (and beyond) this festive season? These are the ultimate Christmas entertainment ideas for you and your family or perhaps it's just a way to ehance the office Christmas party. Prepare to shout “Snow way!” and get your reindeer and Santa sleigh ready for at least one of these is sure to be located beneath your own personal Star of Bethlehem. Yes, it's our roundup of the top West End Christmas theatre shows 2015.
Yes, behind door one of our completely imaginary advent calendar is a glimpse at the Garrick Theatre where a 404-year-old play is being performed. Written by William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale sounds like a serious experience but is actually a romantic comedy and the cast is to die for. Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh star and in this yuletide tale but unless you’ve already got a ticket, you’re not in luck as the play is completely sold out. Damn! Having said that, as part of 'Theatre Live' you could go and see it at the cinema as part of your office Christmas party. Now there's a thought!
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square/Charing Cross
We have great expectations (sigh) for this Charles Dickens adaptation of A Christmas Carol, not least because Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent is in the cast as Ebenezer Scrooge! Coming to the Noel Coward Theatre from 30th November to 30th January, it has been adapted by The 39 Steps scribe Patrick Barlow, which ran in the West End’s Criterion Theatre from 2006 to September 2015. Don’t be left red faced (or red nosed – that one’s aimed at you, Rudolf!) by missing out on this one. Even Bob Cratchitt and Tiny Tim will be there!
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square/Charing Cross/Covent Garden
Oh yes, what could be better than seeing The Nutcracker? Well how about seeing The Nutcracker performed at Christmas time in the Royal Opera House? Yes, this production of Tchaikovsky’s classic tale arrives in London on 8th December until 14th January, performed by the Royal Ballet. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, a young girl’s enchanted present leads her on a wonderful adventure to the North Pole! Okay, we made that last bit up but it’s an utter delight and extremely Christmassy.
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
Oi! Enough of that. Put the Christmas mistletoe away and hide the mulled wine for this is nothing to do with the popular dating app you’re thinking about. The Tinderbox is a classic children’s story from Hans Christian Andersen about a loveable hero named Brian the Brave! Returning from a war, he acquires a magical tinderbox and embarks on a quest to find his true love. Featuring comedy, music and a cast of colourful characters, The Tinderbox is an unmissable treat for the whole family and will be at Charing Cross Theatre from 12th December to 2nd January.
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross/Embankment
The first of two Christmas pantomimes on this list, Cinderella will be at the Richmond Theatre in... Err... Richmond from 4th December to 10th January. With a cast that includes Hayley Mills as the Fairy Godmother, Matthew Kelly as a Dame and CBeebies legend Chris Jarvis as Buttons, this a fun-filled family show that is sure to entertain! Expecting fabulous costumes and more jokes than you could fit inside a Christmas cracker!
Nearest Tube: Richmond
The other Christmas panto you might wish to be made aware of is an adaptation of JM Barrie’s much-loved story. Neverland arrives in New Wimbledon Theatre on 5th December until 10th January, where the cast includes—Well, it’s yet to be announced but in recent years this yuletide event has allowed Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff to Deck the Halls. So listen out for Jingle Bells, wait no, Tinkerbell, get ready to cheer on Peter Pan and boo Captain Hook! Peter Pan is sure to entertain this Christmas.
Nearest Tube: Wimbledon/South Wimbledon
Not to be confused with the Christmas panto above, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a seasonal offering from the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong, which arrived in the West End in 2014 and is currently booking until September 2016! Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a similar idea but naturally focuses on the difficulty of bringing this children’s story to the stage. We certainly hope the New Wimbledon Theatre have done their homework! Expect an ‘elfy' dose of jokes and slapstick from 4th December to 31st January at the Apollo Theatre.
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
No, you haven’t got déjà vu, there really is another version of The Nutcracker in London this Christmas, this time being performed by the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum. Just to reiterate in case you’ve forgotten, this magical Christmas ballet is perfect for all the family. Beginning on Christmas Eve in a frost-dusted Edwardian London, Clara and her doll take a hot air balloon ride across London to the winter world known as the Land of Snow. A Christmas treat, performances are from 16th December to 10th January.
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square/Charing Cross
The first of two ‘on Ice’ shows in London this Christmas, Disney on Ice is probably the one your kids will prefer. Disney on Ice presents World of Enchantment features characters from Cars, the Little Mermaid, Toy Story and more (presumably Frozen...)! Be sure to Let it Go as you’ll witness sensational ice skating and special effects which have to be seen to be believed! Far better than simply playing charades at home with Grandma, this is the ultimate Christmas production and after touring the UK, will be at the O2 Arena from 22nd December to 3rd January!
Nearest Tube: North Greenwich
All together now! “We’re Walking in the Air...” Raymond Briggs’ classic story is brought to life in Peacock Theatre’s The Snowman, performed by Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 25th November to 3rd January. A young boy and his magical Snowman set on a wintery wander to the North Pole, where they meet dancing penguins, reindeer, Father Christmas and escape the clutches of Jack Frost. A beautiful tale that’s not to be missed!
Nearest Tube: Holborn/Covent Garden/Temple
A little bit off the beaten track and hardly the most festive offering this season, Around the World in 80 Days is still a play that we urge you to go and see! Director Lucy Bailey wowed London with Titus Andronicus at the Globe Theatre last year (which closes over winter), but we are fairly sure that this play about Phileas Fogg and Passepartout will be a less bloody affair. Written by Laura Eason (who has House of Cards on her CV!) and based on the Jules Verne novel, this production will delight crowds at St. James Theatre from 26th November to 17th January.
Nearest Tube: Victoria/St. James's Park
You’d think that those involved in planning Christmas theatrical events would have a discussion before all picking the Nutcracker. But never mind... The Nutcracker on Ice will visit The Royal Albert Hall for just 12 performances between 28th December and 2nd January so get in quick! Ice dance sensations The Imperial Ice Stars are the performers behind the show, where you’ll be privy to such classic festive characters as the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King and of course, the Nutcracker Prince.
Nearest Tube: South Kensington/Knightsbridge/Gloucester Road/High Street Kensington
Back for a fourth year at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank, this multi-international award-winning hit has delighted theatregoers for over twenty years! Expect a heart-stopping blizzard of snow and hilarious jokes as titular clown Slava takes you on a journey to a joyous dream-like world from 17th December to 5th January. With stunning special effects, you may even be able to make a snowball by the show’s end! Wow!
Nearest Tube: Waterloo/Embankment
The Old Vic have been known to produce brilliant theatre over Noël (Stephen Fry’s panto, anyone?) and this year it’s no different with Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax taking centre stage! Described as ‘a vibrant Christmas show with a message that will speak to audiences of all ages’, theatrical invention, songs and zany humour are sure to feature prominently as audiences are welcomed into the world of The Once-ler between 3rd December to 16th January.
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
Patrick Barlow features twice this holiday season! Yes, not only has he written A Christmas Carol for Jim Broadbent, but he is also adapting Ben Hur for the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, which is actually where The 39 Steps started out before it transferred to the West End. From the team behind that Olivier-award winning hit, Ben Hur will feature chariots, stunning combat and an ‘authentic sea battle with REAL WATER’ (their words, not ours). The perfect winter tonic guaranteed to stir your soul, laughs are practically guaranteed. Somehow, it only stars four actors too. Amazing.
Nearest Tube: Kilburn/Brondesbury (Overground)
It’s probably the ticket to nab this Christmas but we’ve decided to save it for last in this holiday wish list. Based on the Will Ferrell film of the same name, Elf: The Musical is an absolute treat and focuses on Buddy the Elf as he ventures far from Santa’s Grotto to New York in search of his father. Playing at the Dominion Theatre from 24th October to 2nd January, the cast features Ben Forster and Girl’s Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh. A guaranteed hit, start up the sleigh and get yourself there as quickly as possible!
Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Rd.
Naturally, these are only the bigger of the shows available throughout London this Christmas season but there will always be a nativity, hymns and Christmas carols across London and the UK for you to get involved with as well! For all forms of Christmas entertainment to enhance your party or event, feel free to check out our Christmas pages where you can even hire a Polar Bear!
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By Henry Fosdike