The Muddy 2017 Panto Guide
It’s panto season. Oh yes it is! Enough already…. Here’s the best of the bunch. Greasepaint at the ready!
Get into the Christmas spirit with Muddy’s definitive guide to the best family shows in Berkshire and beyond. A mixture of classic pantos (both nearby and further afield) with all the trimmings OR some jolly musical alternatives for those who are a bit ‘bah humbug’ about all that ‘he’s behind you’ malarkey.
Peter Pan, The Hexagon Reading, Sat 9 Dec to Sun 7 Jan
Mr TUUUUUUUUUMBBBBBLE! The irrepressible CBeebies demi-god Justin Fletcher may make you reach for the gin bottle but any small people in your charge will surely go insane in the membrane at the prospect of seeing him live on stage. He plays hapless trainee pirate Mr Smee in his 6th panto for The Hexagon.
Beauty & the Beast, South Hill Park Bracknell, Thurs 30 Nov – Wed 3 Jan
There’s nothing like a dame, and I’m certain Brad Clapson’s dame will be a sight to behold in South Hill Park’s Beauty & The Beast. Local legend, Brad, will be slapping on the greasepaint as the Good Fairy and there will undoubtedly be a frock off with Belle (Faye Ellen) as this Disney classic is brought life.
Beauty & The Beast, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 1 Dec – Sun 7 Jan
Not one but two Beauties in Berkshire. You won’t find big name celebs here, but you will find a talented bunch of actors who bring the feel-good fun, festive cheer, panto clichés and pop songs. Cue much swaying in your seats (a few too many wines, in my case). Proper Crimbo vibes right here.
Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal Windsor, Wed 29 Nov – Sun 7 Jan
I got insanely drunk on my 18th birthday but Sleeping Beauty celebrated hers by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and falling asleep for hundreds of years. Bummer, eh! But ‘Booooom Booooom we’ve got Basil Brush and DJ Mike Read in the house at the Theatre Royal Windsor for an 80s revival.
FAMILY CHRISTMAS SHOWS…
The Borrowers, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, Thurs 16 Nov– Sun 31 Dec
A family of teeny tiny people living under your floorboards taking stuff from you? Don’t panic, this is not an episode of Crimewatch, Mary Norton’s classic tale, The Borrowers, gets The Watermill treatment. Quick, clever and only four inches tall, their lives unravel when they are discovered by a ‘human bean’.
Miki, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Tues 21 Nov – Sat 30 Dec
One for little ‘uns, this sweet puppetry show is based on Stephen Mackey’s children’s book. The titular Miki embarks on a magical adventure in search of a star and learns about friendship along the way. Awww.
The Nutcracker, Arlington Arts Newbury, 15 – 17 Dec
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker – most kids are worried about bring on Santa’s Nice List but Ballet Theatre UK will be telling the story of Clara who falls asleep on Christmas Eve with her nutcracker doll only to find herself battling an army of mice with her toys as they travel from the Land of Snow to Sugar Plum Fairies Kingdom of the Sweets. Pick n mix essential.
The Nutcracker, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 6 Nov – Sat 11 Nov
Meanwhile the Vienna Festival Ballet will be returning to the Theatre Royal to perform Tchaikovsky’s classic The Nutcracker. Call a pre-Christmas, pre-panto. get-you-in-the-mood warm-up, it’s guaranteed t get you in the Crimbo mood.
My Fair Lady, Mill at Sonning, Thurs 23 Nov – Sat 27 Jan
Can you Adam and Eve it, it’s not panto, it’s not a Christmas show but it is a classic. Eliza Dolittle will be breaking into song for the musical My Fair Lady at the Mill at Sonning. If Crimbo theatre doesn’t get your jingle bell ringing, then this just might. Make a date with your mum… Wouldn’t it be Loverly?
Jack and the Beanstalk, Wycombe Swan, Sat 9 – Sun 31 Dec
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a boyband alum. Simon Webbe from Blue – no kidding! – stars as our bean-obsessed hero, alongside Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashleigh Butler, CBeebies star Chris Jarvis and veteran panto dame extraordinaire Nigel Ellacott, who notches up this 43rd panto run. Blimey, he’s keen.
Wycombe Swan Theatre, St Mary St, High Wycombe, Bucks, wycombeswan.co.uk
Cinderella, Milton Keynes Theatre, Sat 9 Dec – Sun 14 Jan
Given a new lease of credibility by Strictly, Brian Conley is the headliner here with Gok Wan (where’s he been hiding recently?) in Milton Keynes’ version of Cinderella. Conley’s jovial humour and delivery is made for panto so my bet is it’ll be a good ‘un.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, atgtickets.com
Dick Whittington, London Palladium, Sun 10 Dec – Fri 12 Jan
Filed under ‘go big or go home’, we have London Palladium’s offering, starring Julian Clary and Elaine Paige. Oh yeah! And you thought Su Pollard was camp. Fans of ’80s cheesiness will be thrilled to hear that Gary Wilmot co-stars alongside Nigel ‘The Charmer’ Havers.
London Palladium, Argyll St, London, dickwhittingtonpalladium.com
A Christmas Carol, North Wall Theatre, Oxford, Sat 2 Dec – Sat 6 Jan
The ever-excellent Creation Theatre group promise a totally different take on Dickens, with their reboot of A Christmas Carol. Only a total Scrooge wouldn’t warm to this one, I reckon. This year they’re offering cabaret seating, so you sit round a circular table as a group.
The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford , thenorthwall.com
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells, London
Matthew Bourne’s productions are always stunning and this is no exception. He transposes the story of Cinderella to London during the Blitz, rebooting it as a wartime romance between our heroine and an RAF pilot. The reviews have been of the rave variety, with Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costumes and sets winning Olivier Award.
Sadlers Wells, Rosebery Av, London EC1, sadlerswells.com
Cinderella on Ice, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London, Fri 17 Nov – Mon 1 Jan
No rest for Cinders! Here she is again, this time donning ice-skates, as one of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland’s new attractions. In this show, her slinky blade moves attract the amorous attentions of the Lord Mayor’s son, much to her step-sisters’ annoyance. There’s loads of whizzy lifts, jumps and throws, plus wowzers special effects.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, hydeparkwinterwonderland.com