Looking for some alternative festive fare? Debbie has some recommendations…

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Debbie GilpinLeave a Comment

As you know, Mind the Blog is a Panto-Free Zone – but what if you want to find some alternative festive fare? Whether it’s family fun or something a little more grown-up, we have a selection of seasonal offerings (old and new) that might be of use to you.

The Woman in Black – Fortune Theatre

You may remember that I recommended this during Halloween too, but technically this is its true home. Susan Hill’s novel follows in the tradition of Christmas ghost stories (something a certain Mr Charles Dickens was always rather fond of) and the stage adaptation by Stephen Mallatratt is actually a play within a play. It focuses on junior solicitor Arthur Kipps and his encounters with the mysterious woman in black, who appears at the funeral of a client – from then on, Kipps is possessed with a curiosity about her story, but will it prove to be a costly error?

How to Catch a Krampus – The Pleasance

I only became aware of the legend of the Krampus a couple of years ago, thanks to a special edition of Inside No. 9 (The Devil of Christmas) – it’s a half-goat, half-demon figure who punishes badly behaved children at Christmas (so basically the polar opposite of Father Christmas!). Drag collective Sink the Pink have used this story (and a touch of Victorian melodrama) as inspiration for their new Christmas show at the Pleasance; it follows the exploits of a con-artist masquerading as a medium who suddenly starts getting results. Very much an adults-only show!

Striking 12 – Union Theatre

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl gets a modern tweak in this show from Brendan Milburn, Valeria Vigoda and Rachel Sheinkin. Transport yourself to New Year’s Eve in New York City as a cast led by Declan Bennett and Bronté Barbé take you through a 70-minute (almost completely) sung-through musical. I reviewed it for BroadwayWorld UK, awarding it four stars: “Its beautiful score and winning performances will warm you up faster than a glass of mulled wine by the fireside.”

Simon Callow in A Christmas Carol – Arts Theatre

Also available in album form (with help from The Brighouse and Rastrick Band), legendary actor and Dickens expert Simon Callow returns to the Arts Theatre for a new run of his solo show. It follows in Dickens’ footsteps, as he regularly took to the stage to give performances of his famous novella in the festive season. This time the show will also be available to watch outside of London and the theatre, as it will be reimagined for the cinema and broadcast nationwide on 11 December.

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

Peter Pan – Park Theatre
Before the classic Disney film, Peter Pan was a stage play by Scottish writer J.M. Barrie – and the original story flies into the Park Theatre as this year’s festive family treat. Starring Nickcolia King-N’Da and Alexander Vlahos as Peter Pan and Captain Hook, it promises to be a theatrical adventure for all ages! Even more so if you end up on the front row, by the sounds of it, as the website warns that it may be a bit of a splash zone… “Second to the right, and straight on till morning!”

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

Seussical the Musical
Photo credit: Adam Trigg

Seussical the Musical – Southwark Playhouse
Continuing in the family theme is a musical that brings together a combination of characters and locations from the stories of Dr. Seuss: the 5* smash that is Seussical! It’s another short & sweet show, running for approximately 75 minutes, and is jam-packed with references to suit the Seuss fanatic in your life – and ridiculousness to please even the slightest fan of silliness. It has been brilliantly cast, though it’s Marc Pickering as the Cat in the Hat who steals the show, with humour that will delight children & adults alike.

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

London Musical Theatre Orchestra presents A Christmas Carol – Lyceum Theatre
I really loved watching this as part of my challenge to find as many different productions of A Christmas Carol as possible in 2017 (I was also lucky enough to see a staged production of this very musical a couple of weeks later) – and when I heard it was coming back, with a cast including Griff Rhys Jones, David Hunter and Miriam-Teak Lee, I knew I had to make a return visit. There are several different performance times over the next couple of weeks, and I’d highly recommend you take your chance to see a heartwarming musical version of the classic story.

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

How to Catch a Krampus – The Pleasance
I only became aware of the legend of the Krampus a couple of years ago, thanks to a special edition of Inside No. 9 (The Devil of Christmas) – it’s a half-goat, half-demon figure who punishes badly behaved children at Christmas (so basically the polar opposite of Father Christmas!). Drag collective Sink the Pink have used this story (and a touch of Victorian melodrama) as inspiration for their new Christmas show at the Pleasance; it follows the exploits of a con-artist masquerading as a medium who suddenly starts getting results. Very much an adults-only show!

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

Stick Man
Photo credit: Steve Ullathorne

Stick Man – Leicester Square Theatre
This charming little show (based on the Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler story) is back for another run at Leicester Square Theatre – I really enjoyed it last year, awarding it 4*: “A fun & charming family show that will fill children with delight – and you’ll be humming the tunes for weeks!” It has a lovely short running time, making it suitable for even the youngest of youngsters, and does a fantastic job of being engaging & accessible for all.

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

Pinocchio – The Albany
Nearly There Yet (in association with Proteus) are bringing a brand new adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s famous story to The Albany in Deptford this season. It combines circus and puppetry with an inventive soundscape and hand-crafted set to really bring to life the magical story of the marionette who dreams of becoming “a real boy”. The company aims to show the importance of community spirit with their family-friendly, diversely cast production.

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

A Christmas Carol – Old Vic
Jack Thorne’s version of the Charles Dickens classic is back for another run, following a successful introduction in the 2017/18 season with Rhys Ifans starring as Scrooge. Stephen Tompkinson takes over the role of the infamous miser for this run, alongside a largely new cast that includes Witney White, Peter Caulfield and Eugene McCoy. One of the wonderful things about this particular show is how it transforms the Old Vic auditorium, allowing audience members to sit on the stage, and generally making it feel very friendly & welcoming once you get inside. It has been tweaked ever so slightly for this return engagement, but is as phenomenal as ever.

Tickets are available online or from the box office.

A Christmas Carol
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Tags: A Christmas Carol, Alexander Vlahos, Arts Theatre, Axel Scheffler, Brendan Milburn, Bronté Barbé, Carlo Collodi, Charles Dickens, Christmas, David Hunter, Declan Bennett, Dr. Seuss, Eugene McCoy, Fortune Theatre, Griff Rhys Jones, Hans Christian Andersen, How to Catch a Krampus, Inside No. 9, J. M. Barrie, Jack Thorne, Julia Donaldson, Leicester Square Theatre, LMTO, London, London Musical Theatre Orchestra, Lyceum Theatre, Marc Pickering, Miriam-Teak Lee, Nearly There Yet, Nickcolia King-N’Da, Off West End, Old Vic, Park Theatre, Peter Caulfield, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Pleasance London, Proteus, Rachel Sheinkin, Rhys Ifans, Seussical, Seussical the Musical, Simon Callow, Sink the Pink, Southwark Playhouse, Stephen Mallatratt, Stephen Tompkinson, Stick Man, Striking 12, Susan Hill, The Albany, The Brighouse and Rastrick Band, The Little Match Girl, The Woman In Black, theatre, Union Theatre, Valerie Vigoda, West End, Witney WhiteCategories: all posts, Christmas, preview, theatre

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Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.
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Debbie Gilpin on FacebookDebbie Gilpin on Twitter
Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.

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