Festive local theatre to watch and stream
Fancy a festive family show? Enter stage left, my roundup of the best virtual and in-person productions this month, all from brilliant local arts venues.
IN-PERSON: Aladdin, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – 3 Jan 2021
Aladdin will be rubbing his lamp this year in Newbury and Widow Twankey is up to his neck in laundry (I hear you). It has been a devastating year for theatres but the show must go on and the Corn Exchange in Newbury put on a fun show. Jump on that magic carpet and book up.
IN-PERSON: Cinderella, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 10 Jan
You shall go to the ball… or failing that panto. There’s a reason why families return to the Theatre Royal Windsor year after year. Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year they’re putting on Cinderella. Windsor’s brilliant comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley are back, with Debbie McGee and Basil Brush joining the cast. Booooom booooooom!
IN-PERSON: A Christmas Carol, The Watermill Theatre, Newbury, now – 3 Jan 2021
It’s Dickens but not as you know it. This is a fun, fresh and lively adaptation of the Christmas classic with just two actor-musicians playing Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the rest of the festive firm. A story of second chances – there’s always another day and you can write a brand-new page tomorrow. All the festive feels and a healthy reminder not to be stingy with your gifts.
IN-PERSON & ONLINE: The Magic Porridge Pot and Other Tales, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 10 – 12 Dec
One for younger kids, these two tasty tales are served with unexpected spices and quirky flavours, along with the Theatre of Widdershins’ trademark mix of puppets, pop-up sets and original music. Perfect fare for fussy foodies and discerning diners. Plus if you can’t get a seat in the reduced-capacity theatre, performances are being live streamed for you to watch at home.
IN-PERSON: Madagascar The Musical, South Hill Park Bracknell, 11 – 16 Dec
OK, so Madagascar The Musical isn’t in the panto playbook, but it is a fun, family favourite that’ll leave you feeling merry and bright. If you like to move it, move it, join Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins at Bracknell’s South Hill Park. A dead cert hit with the kids, and adults for that matter. Tickets here.
IN-PERSON: A Christmas Carol, South Hill Park Bracknell, 22 – 24 Dec
I think we’ll all be haunted by Christmas 2020, so there’s no better time to see this Charles Dickens classic. The Apollo Theatre Company brings its brand-new adaptation of A Christmas Carol to South Hill Park in Bracknell. Join Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the ghosts of past, present and future for a night of festive spooky entertainment.
IN-PERSON & ONLINE: Pinocchio, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 22 – 24 Dec
The objects of a carpenter’s workshop bring to life the tale of the puppet that wants to be a real boy, and the puppet-maker who wants to be a real father. A one man show starring Steve Tiplady, as Geppetto where Pinocchio is carved on stage, brushes become a fox and the shadow of two saws become a shark. The mix of puppetry, shadows, illusion and music, make this a must-watch show. Tickets available for the theatre and each performance will be live streamed too.
VIRTUAL: Santa’s Christmas Rescue, Imagine Theatre, 10 Dec – 3 Jan 2021
Reading panto has been postponed until next year but Imagine Theatre, the producers of The Hexagon’s theatrical Christmas crackers, are streaming a little festive cheer with Santa’s Christmas Rescue – featuring Iain Lauchlan of Tweenies fame.
IN-PERSON & VIRTUAL: A Christmas Carol, Rising Sun Arts Centre Reading, 19 Dec
A Christmas Carol is clearly the show of 2020. Front room Theatre presents a a curious musical retelling of the Dickens classic, starring actor musicians Natalie Wilcox and Nicole Johnson. There will be a limited number of tickets available for the performance above Reading’s Global Cafe and the livestream will then be available until 4 Jan 2021.
IN-PERSON: Jack & the Beanstalk, Braywick Leisure Centre Maidenhead, 19 – 24 Dec
There are very few pantos to go to this and with theatres selling fewer tickets, you’ll need to grab tickets pronto. Maidenhead’s annual panto is back with oodles of festive fee-fi-fo-fum, as our bean-obsessed hero Jack learns an important lesson about the dangers of throwing stuff out of the window.
VIRTUAL: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Creation Theatre, 19 Dec – 3 Jan
The Christmas panto may be a write-off this year, but this clever alternative from the geniuses at Creation is the next best thing (‘oh no it isn’t!’ etc etc). Live matinee and evening performances will take place online from 19 Dec, including Christmas Eve, with an interactive audience – so if you dial in at the same time as Aunty Brenda, you’ll be able to spot her on screen. Tickets cost £30 per device.
FILM: A Christmas Carol 2020, various cinemas, 18 – 24 Dec
Charles Dickens’ classic is getting another big-screen adaptation. Directed by brother-sister duo Jacqui and David Morris, the novel’s characters are portrayed by dancers and voiced by a smörgåsbord of top acting talent – Carey Mulligan, Martin Freeman, Simon Russell Beale, Daniel Kaluuya and Andy Serkis. We follow a Victorian family as they prepare for their annual performance of A Christmas Carol, which takes place in a toy-theatre where the real dancers and stylised sets come alive.