It’s that time of year. Lights sparkle in celebration of Christmas along the Thames and the theatres are lit up by the most starry and sparkling seasonal treats. Here are the best of the season, seconds away from the Strand Palace.
A Christmas Carol is as classic as the season, but this adaptation promises to be as fresh as it is festive. Written by Jack Thorne, who wrote the scripts for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, this adaptation of Dickens will delight. Rhys Ifans, forever famous for that scene in Notting Hill, stars as curmudgeon Scrooge. His on-stage presence is unforgettable too, as he discovers the magic and meaning of Christmas with the help of mysterious apparitions that transform him from miserly to mellow.
At the Old Vic until 20 January
Slava’s Snowshow on the Southbank is staged and created by Russian performance artist Slava Polunin. A magical, immersive production complete with a sensational blizzard and indoor snow, this is one of the most captivating Christmas specials in the city. The Sunday Times deemed it pure ‘theatrical brilliance’ and it’s back in London for the fifth Christmas in a row, by popular demand. This critically acclaimed clown-fest and visual treat has sold out in 80 cities around the world, with a childlike sense of wonder and spectacle which charms all ages.
At the Royal Festival Hall from 18 December until 4 January
The Sugar Plum Fairy has been dancing a delight since 1892, in a fairy tale so beloved that several productions are staged every December. This year’s most ethereal and enchanting version of Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas tale is at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The score soars, as do the Royal Ballet dancers, and the sparkling sets are simply breathtaking.
(Credit: Royal Opera House Press Release)
At the Royal Opera House from 5 December to 10 January
The cult and cheeky Christmas favourite, La Soirée segues into the Aldwych Theatre this year. It’s sold out in the past in tents all around the city, but this is the first time this heady combination of cabaret and circus, elegant burlesque and new wave variety takes to the boards in a grand theatre venue. Expect contortionists, comedy, clowns and risqué, ridiculous and funny feats. Afternoon shows are almost as feisty, but perhaps just a little less full on.
Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio feature in a spectacular new production in which songs and the original heartfelt score will resound over the Southbank this December. When You Wish Upon a Star has never sounded so good, brought to the stage by the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Matilda. It’s a spectacular and very seasonal production. What’s more there’s a Hi-diddle-dee-Tea, an afternoon tea inspired by the Disney film and this superb stage show available after matinees and before evening performances on selected dates.
At the National Theatre, from 1 December to 31 March
And last, and certainly not to be missed this season, just around the corner from the Strand Palace, the often incandescent, more frequently incomparable Jennifer Saunders of Ab Fab and far beyond fame returns to the West End for the first time in more than two decades. This time she’s starring in the last of a year-long celebration of Oscar Wilde specials at the Vaudeville Theatre – an almost sold-out ticket. There’s still time – just – to book into one of the most English classics of them all. Saunders plays the Duchess of Berwick. Kathy Burke, known for almost the absolute opposite, directs.
At the Vaudeville Theatre from 22 January to 7 April 2018
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