Christmas is a great time to treat your friends, your family and even just yourself to a trip to the theatre. It’s certainly not a cheap thing to do any more but if you are looking to jingle all the way to the West End this festive season, here are some of my top shows to see to help you decide.
wonder.land (National Theatre)
27 November – 28 February 2016
A new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic story, wonder.land is a coming-of-age adventure that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives.
Aly is struggling with all the pressures of being a teenager: family, school, friends and her own insecurities. Then she discovers wonder.land – a mysterious online world where, perhaps, she can create a whole new life. The web becomes her looking-glass – but will Aly see who she really is?
With music by Blur’s Damon Albarn, this musical is promised to be like no other: an Alice for the online generation.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Apollo Theatre)
4 December – 31 January 2016
From the people who brought us the hit comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, this Christmas the West End is being treated to their follow up, festive show, Peter Pan Goes Wrong. The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society take on the much loved story of Peter Pan but must battle against technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes. Whether they will ever make it to Neverland is unknown but it is sure to be a laugh a minute ride this festive season.
A Christmas Carol (Noel Coward Theatre)
30 November – 30 January 2016
Academy Award-winning actor Jim Broadbent makes his long-awaited return to the stage to play Scrooge in a new version of A Christmas Carol adapted by Patrick Barlow from Charles Dickens’ classic story of greed, grief, ghoulish ghosts and eleventh-hour redemption.
This imaginative adaptation of A Christmas Carol promises to bring some of Dickens’ most memorable characters to life this winter.
Cats (London Palladium)
Until 2 January 2016
Back again for its second Christmas in a row is Andrew Lloyd Webbers classic musical Cats, this time starring soul-singing legend Beverley Knight, in the iconic role of Grizabella the glamour cat. Based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show is set amongst a larger- than-life junkyard playground and is alive with our favourite feline characters including Rum Tum Tugger, Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity, Jennyanydots and Skimbleshanks.
It’s a bit of a bonkers show and if it weren’t one of the West End’s longest running classics, it probably wouldn’t do very well in today’s theatre going climate. However, it has stood the test of time and is a well-loved musical that draws in the crowds every time.
Matilda (Cambridge Theatre)
Until 18 December 2016
Everyone’s a little bit naughty, even Roald Dahl’s most loved character Matilda, who has been brought to life on stage in this musical adaptation, with songs by comedian Tim Minchin. One of the best new musicals to hit the West End stage in recent years, Matilda is one show you don’t want to miss. From colourful and well thought out sets that will keep the kids eyes busy, to the brilliant singing and dancing by an incredible cast. Matilda is certainly worth splashing out for.
Wicked (Apollo Victoria)
Until 5 November 2016
Now seen my over seven million theatre-goers, Wicked is one of the most magical musicals the world has seen in years. Adults and children alike can follow this multi-layered story of two young witches and their search to do good in the world. But things are not always as they seem and we soon learn (in this prequel to the Wizard of Oz) that the story we think we know so well is actually not quite what happened in Oz. Who was the scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion before Dorothy dropped her house on the town? All the answers and some amazing songs can be found in this show.
Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre)
Until 1 October 2016
One of London’s longest running West End shows, The Phantom of the Opera, will celebrate thirty years in town next year and remains a firm favourite amongst theatre fans. The hauntingly beautiful music and incredible vocal tones of the performers makes for a breathtaking night at the theatre and is perfect for a dark cold December evening. Follow the story of the disfigured Phantom who falls in love with young performer Christine and tries to make her his own. But when Raoul, a former lover of Christine’s comes along, she has to decide where her heart truly lies.
Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)
Until 28 May 2016
The feel good musical of 2015 landed in the West End earlier this year and has been a hit with the crowds. I called it “the best feel good show since Priscilla Queen of the Desert” and Cyndi Lauper’s catchy songs will leave you wanting to watch it all over again. The show stars Killian Donnelly as Charlie who inherits his fathers shoe factory and to save it from going bust, turns it into a business specializing in transvestite high heels!
Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre)
Until 27 February 2016
One of the greatest love stories ever told, Miss Saigon tells the story of a Vietnam War Soldier who falls in love with a local bar girl. When he returns to his American life, he leaves her behind with more than he realised… a baby. Three years later he receives word that he has a son but with a new wife and a new life, he needs to make some tough decisions about what to do.
Miss Saigon originally played in London’s West End for ten years 1989-1999 and recently made a triumphant return in 2014. The show will close in February 2016 and will transfer to Broadway with original cast members Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada. Make sure you see it before its too late.
Mamma Mia (Novello Theatre)
Until 22 October 2016
I’ve seen Mamma Mia three times in the past twelve months and I just want to keep going back again and again. It’s not the best show in the West End but it doesn’t try to be. Now in its sixteenth year playing in London it has stood the test of time and become a much-loved classic that sells out night after night to tourists and locals. With all the infectious Abba classic songs you could ask for, Mamma Mia will surely have you up on your feet dancing and really put you in the mood for a Christmas party!
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Also, check out the November issue of Show Film First Theatre News With West End Wilma here for all the latest from me