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Release the cheese! 13 pantos and Xmas shows

Love 'em or hate 'em, pantos are back. So dig out your stripy tights, winkle pickers, false lashes and wiggery, and book in for one of these shows in Berkshire and beyond.

Beauty & The Beast, The Hexagon Theatre Reading, now – 3 Jan

Beauty and the Beast Hexagon Reading

CBeebies demigod, Justin Fletcher and award-winning Dame, Paul Morse return to the Reading stage as Billy and Nanny Pastry in the Covid postponed Beauty And The Beast. Join Lumière and his pottery pals for a spin round the Beast’s ballroom and enjoy the sizzling on stage chemistry between Justin and Paul. Oh no you won’t! Oh yes you… (sorry, I’ll stop).

The Jungle Book, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – 31 Dec

The Jungle Book Watermill Theatre Newbury

Be the king of the swingers (not like that, this is a family show), a jungle VIP at The Watermill’s bookish Christmas production of The Jungle Book. This is a wild and captivating musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale full of warmth, laughter and wonder. 

Cinderella, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – 3 Jan

Cinderella at South Hill Park

You shall go to the ball… or failing that the panto. There’s a reason why families return year after year to South Hill Park in Bracknell. Expect all the cheesy one liners, toe tapping songs and a jaw-dropping set. 

Kipper’s Snowy Day, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – 30 Dec

Looking for a Christmas show that dials down the crazy? Norden Farm always put on an atmospheric, bookish production with puppets. This year, Kipper’s Snowy Day will be brought to life – a classic children’s tale nails the Christmas Eve excitement. It’s perfect for littles and SEND children.

Jack And The Beanstalk, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 14 Jan

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK WINDSOR

Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Jack And The Beanstalk. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley have been dusting off the panto patter and old pros Anita Harris and Basil Brush add a dash of nostalgia. It’s a great panto in a beautiful theatre. Booooom booooooom!

The Snow Queen, Rabble Theatre Reading, now – 24 Dec

For a show that’s light on cheese, book The Snow Queen – a new play, written by Anna Wheatley based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story. Set in mid-winter, two besties’ worlds are torn apart when one of them mysteriously disappears and the other is forced to set out on a treacherous journey across Scandinavia to find him. The Rabble Theatre has a fab reputation, so worth booking in.

Cinderella, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – 2 Jan

Image: The Other Richard

Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Corn Exchange continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. Watch Cinderella outwit the wicked Step Mother and her Ugly Sisters to find her Prince Charming and generally have a rip-roaring time.

FURTHER AFIELD

Pantoland, London Palladium, now – 9 Jan

A mash up of all of panto’s best bits, starring American musician Donny Osmond and panto legend Julian Clary. Expect show-stopper songs, coarse comedy, and — well, all the things you’d expect from a great panto, really.

Potted Panto, Garrick Theatre London, now – 9 Jan

From the people behind the wildly successful Potted Potter, this show promises a whirlwind tour of seven classic pantos in 70 minutes. Sure to be a madcap hoot.

School of Rock, New Theatre Oxford, now – 1 Jan

School of Rock

Want a change from the traditional fairytale panto? Mix things up this Christmas with New Theatre Oxford’s head-banging School of Rock – glam rock sequins optional! This is our top pick if you have fussy teens who are ‘way too old, mum, god’ for your classic Mother Goose fare.

Jack and the Beanstalk, Camberley Theatre now – 31 Dec

If you’re looking for a great medley of songs, energetic choreography, dazzling costumes and a whole host of squirty cream (yes, really!) when it comes to panto season, look no further than Camberley Theatre as they retell the infamous story of Jack and the Beanstalk. 

Cinderella, Kenton Theatre, Henley, now – 30 Dec

This year the Henley-based theatre will be donning glass slippers and waving wands in Cinderella. Pantos in this funky local space are always a full house, and we love that it’s close to the river for a walk after the matinee.

Peter Pan, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe now – 2 Jan

Jake Wood from Eastenders is Captain Hook in this year’s Wycombe Swan panto, joined by Jake Canuso from Benidorm. What a line up! Audiences are sure to be, ahem, hooked…

OOPS! YOU MISSED IT

Babe The Sheep Pig, Progress Theatre Reading, 8 – 11 Dec

Squeals of excitement! Babe The Sheep Pig is arriving at the Progress Theatre Reading this Christmas. Who can forget the Oscar-winning 1995 film, based on Dick King-Smith’s best-selling book? Now the story of a little pig who dreams big is brought to life by a show full of laughter and live music. 

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