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‘An absolute family experience not to be missed’: GOLDILOCKS & THE THREE BEARS – Liverpool ★★★★★

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Straight to the point, don’t wait until the end of this review to find out that Goldilocks & The Three Bears at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool was the best pantomime I have ever seen. You must, must, must see it if you can. A love story, a traditional tale, a circus, a concert, a comedy masterpiece and a delivering of the most spectacular costumes sparkling and shimmering across the stage.

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‘Brings the house down’: Dick Whittington: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto – Leeds ★★★★★

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There was an infectious feeling of fun, frivolity and non-stop belly-busting laughter across Leeds as the famous Rock ‘n’ Roll panto presenting Dick Whittington, was showing at the fabulous City Varieties Music Hall. After receiving the most festive and friendliest of welcomes from the front of house team, an excited audience settled down for a pantomime that brought the house down.

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‘Exciting, fabulous, entertaining’: SLEEPING BEAUTY – Theatre Royal Windsor ★★★★★

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Theatre Royal Windsor brings you this year’s panto and what a panto it is. Sleeping Beauty tells us the story that we all know and love but with a few twists thrown in, alongside with much excitement, enchantment, many laughs and just a great entertaining evening for all.

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‘A sweet success’: Charlie & the Chocolate Factory The Musical – Leeds ★★★★★

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Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical comes to Leeds Playhouse for the festive season. The musical invites one into a world of imagination of Charlie’s plight and Willy Wonka’s confectionery wonders at his chocolate factory. The musical is based on David Greig’s book with Marc Shaiman’s musical composition and his and Scott Wittman’s lyrics.

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‘Energy seems to pulsate off the stage’: NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL – Birmingham ★★★★★

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Christmas has exploded over Birmingham in a shower of confetti with the arrival of Nativity! The Musical, written and directed by Debbie Isitt. If the spirit of Christmas has yet to grab you, or you find yourself feeling jaded by world events, get yourself to Birmingham Rep this December and revel in the fun. There’s even a cute dog in it.

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‘Can only be described as magical’: THE SNOWMAN – Peacock Theatre ★★★★★

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Based on the well-loved Raymond Briggs classic, The Snowman stage show can only be described as magical. Having grown up watching the TV adaptation, the piece has always been an integral part of the Christmas countdown in our family, we’ve got the books and each year eagerly await it being aired on TV.

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‘Daniel Jacob’s portrayal of Lady Bracknell is wonderfully hilarious’: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST – Rose Theatre, Kingston ★★★★

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As with all shows produced by The Rose Theatre, The Importance of Being Earnest takes a familiar favourite by Oscar Wilde and makes it even better. While using all the original language, the play feels incredibly similar to the comedy commonly seen in sitcoms.

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‘Filled to the brim with passion’: ORFEO ED EURIDICE – Leeds & Touring ★★★★★

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A highly-dramatic and first-class performance of Opera North’s Orfeo Ed Euridice was extremely well received with rapturous applause at the exquisite Grand Theatre, Leeds. This must be one of (if not the most) tragic love stories ever imagined; beautiful and disturbing.

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‘Became quite farcical’: BOMBAY SUPERSTAR – Touring

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The plot of Bombay Superstar transpires to be a bit of an unofficial biopic of the Bollywood actress Rekha. Rekha’s story has been subtly changed and some life events have been swapped with her then leading man, Amitabh Bachchan, for what I can only imagine to be creative/entertainment purposes.

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‘Vigorous new take on Molière’s play’: TARTUFFE – Birmingham ★★★★

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Many great comedies are reimagined and this re-adaptation of Moliére’s Tartuffe, originally commissioned and produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company made with The Rep, is very obliging to the audience. Highly enjoyable and offering a new radical take on the original book that was produced in 1664.

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‘Funny, disturbing & uncomfortable’: RUCKUS – Southwark Playhouse ★★★★★

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Jenna Fincken’s unsettling and unforgettable play about coercive control chronicles a relationship from meeting to the first act of violence. Funny, disturbing and uncomfortable – Louise asks us “Did you see?” – Ruckus at Southwark Playhouse is a brilliant production.

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‘You won’t be disappointed’: THE MIRROR CRACK’D – Touring ★★★★

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The Original Theatre Company is currently touring with a new adaption, by Rachel Wagstaff, of The Mirror Crack’d, from Agatha Christie’s 1962 novel, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. It is a classic whodunit from one of the best crime writers, with one of her best-known characters, Miss Marple.

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‘Great introduction to mystery drama’: THE FAMOUS FIVE: A NEW MUSICAL – Mold ★★★★

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The Famous Five – A New Musical, a collaboration between Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatr Clwyd, brings a fresh vibe that sees writer Elinor Cook and director Tamara Harvey concentrate on family relationships and climate crisis as opposed to spies.

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‘This is outstanding’: THE BOOK THIEF: A NEW MUSICAL – Bolton ★★★★★

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The Octagon Theatre is currently home to the world premiere of the new musical based on the novel by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief. The play begins with an introduction from our Narrator, played by Ryan O’Donnell who sets the scene of Nazi Germany and follows the story of Liesel, played by Niamh Palmer.

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‘You will still jump out of your seat’: 2:22 – A GHOST STORY – Criterion Theatre ★★★★

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It is a testament to Danny Robins’ 2:22 – A Ghost Story at the Criterion Theatre that many people go back for a second viewing – this is lots of fun as you try to spot what is going on and notice foreshadowing. But you will still jump out of your seat!

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‘Simply beautiful’: THE COLOR PURPLE – Touring ★★★★

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From great American novel to star-casted film to Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical, Alison Walker’s The Color Purple has seen many formats over the years. A hard-hitting musical at the best of times, and a musical that needs passion, love and a cast to carry the story above and beyond. Like many in the audience, my only experience of this gut-wrenching story has either been with the book taught and analysed in schools or the 2015 new Broadway cast recording starring Cynthia Erivo and Jenifer Hudson – this new staging of the infamous musical is just as breathtaking as every adaptation I have come into contact with.

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‘Highly entertaining evening’: TRUMP L’OEIL – Upstairs at the Gatehouse

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Trump L’Oeil is a musical romp through the Trump years, played for laughs and employing many different theatrical genres to create the full effect of the chaos of the time. Drawing on surrealist influences, this is part cabaret, part circus and part queer theatre, with an equally broad range of music, from rap to pop and including a neatly adapted, storming version of ‘Puttin’ (Putin) On the Ritz’ – there’s even a hefty nod to Dr Seuss in ‘Marvellous Me’, the show’s opening number.