The Muddy Guide
Windsor Christmas Gift Fair, Royal Windsor Racecourse, Thurs 17 to Sun 20 Nov
The biggest and best Christmas gift fair in the county opens this evening at Royal Windsor Racecourse with an exclusive shopping event from 6pm to 9pm, and continues daily on Fri 18 and Sat 19, 9.30am to 5pm; and Sun 20 Nov, 9.30am to 4pm. With more than 160 stands selling luxury and one-off gifts all under one roof you really will be spoilt for choice. Check out my top 5 gifts from some of the exhibitors, and if you can make it this evening the organisers are offering Muddy readers a discount on the ticket price.
Pride and Prejudice, Theatre Royal Windsor, 15 – 19 Nov
This caught my eye firstly because the reviews have been really good, but also because the cast consists of just two actors! I’m intrigued how the five Bennett sisters and all the wonderful goings on in one of the nation’s favourite novels can be brought to life by just TWO actors?! Apparently it’s funny, inventive, fast-paced, and manages to stick to Austen’s text faithfully. Well worth a watch. Showtimes: Tues to Sat 8pm; Weds & Thurs 2.30pm; Sat 4pm. Tickets £14 – £30.
Lantern making workshops, Maidenhead town centre, Sat 19 Nov
The countdown to the Carnival of Animal’s Lantern Parade (10 Dec) starts now with the first of the lantern making workshops this weekend. Sunday’s workshop at Norden Farm is already sold out, but you can still join the drop in sessions in Maidenhead town centre on Saturday at the Nicholson Centre between 10am and 3pm, and there are several more workshops in Nov and Dec. Expert lantern makers will guide you through the process and you’ll have a lantern ready to illuminate at the parade on Sat 10 Dec. £3 per person suitable for all ages. See the Norden Farm website for full details and further workshop dates.
Jake and Elwood’s Christmas Party! Theatre Royal Windsor, 21 Nov, 8pm
I have a soft spot for the Blues Brothers as mine and Mr Muddy B’s first dance at our wedding was to ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ awwwww. You too can dance the night away as Jake & Elwood Blues invite you to spend a Christmas Party Night in a Chicago Winter Wonderland as they explode on stage for their Soul, Rhythm & Blues Christmas Extravaganza. Backed by the dynamic Black Rhino Band and featuring a feast of much loved favourites and festive music. Tickets £16 – £38.
La Boheme, The Hexagon, Reading, Fri 18 Nov, 7.30pm
This brand new production of one opera’s most popular and unforgettable stories is traditionally staged and features beautiful sets and costumes. If like me, you’re an opera novice here are your crib notes: La Boheme tells the tragic tale of the doomed seamstress, Mimi, and her love for a penniless poet, Rodolfo. Faced with every trial and tribulation that life can throw at them, will their love survive? Cue a local brass band, snow effects and a dog even makes an appearance. Opera totally rocks! Sung in Italian with English surtitles. Tickets from £29.50.
BalletBoyz present Life., Hexagon, Reading, Sat 19 Nov, 7.30pm
Ooh, athletic young men in tights. Enough said. Shall we just stop there and move onto where to buy tickets? Ok, ok, a bit more background. Following its triumphant premiere in London this spring, Life. is performed by an all-male company of ten amazing dancers and features two works by internationally acclaimed choreographers Rabbit by Pontus Lidberg and Fiction by Javier de Frutos. The production takes an elegant, powerful and provocative look at life and death presented in the inimitable BalletBoyz style – inventive and original, showcasing their agility and athleticism (yes please). Tickets £20.50.
Reading Community Gospel Choir, Concert Hall, Reading, Sat 19 Nov, 7.30pm
Let me get a ‘Hallelujah!’ because the Reading Community Gospel Choir, (finalists in the BBC’s Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition 2015 no less) are performing at The Concert Hall with the Vadé Gospel Jazz Quintet. Expect top notch gospel singing, full of deep soul and hand-clapping melodies. Tickets £15.
Dirty Dancing, Hexagon, Reading, Mon 21 – Sat 26 Nov
Watermelons at the ready? Check. Baby in the corner? Check. Brushed up on your Merengue hip action? Check. The musical version of the 80s movie that fuelled my fantasies of men in sweaty vest tops for years comes to the Hexagon next week. I saw a production two years back in Oxford and it was sooooo much fun and it stays deliciously close to the film version too. This is my dead cert for a brilliant girl’s night out this week but better get in their quick because lots of others have the same idea and tickets are selling FAST! Tickets from £34.50.
Sleeping Beauty, Watermill Theatre, Thurs 17 Nov – Sun 1 Jan 2017
A quirky, comic re-telling of the classic fairy story through the eyes of the mischievous Fairy Goody. An enchanted forest, fantastical creatures and a mother-in-law who turns out to be an ogre (I’m not saying a word!) combine to create an entertaining story that will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Expect a touch of Roald Dahl in this acclaimed version by Rufus Norris with plenty of original music. A magical Christmas show suitable for age 4 upwards. Tickets from £10.50.
Carols at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, Sat 19 Nov, 7.45pm
Christmas isn’t Christmas until you’ve belted out a few Hark the Heralds or Once in Royal David’s, and for the past 23 years The Salvation Army Newbury has held an annual carol concert at the Corn Exchange, so it’s a good place to start. This year it features The Central Southern Area Fellowship Band, The Basingstoke Tambourine Group and a local junior school choir as guests. Bring it on! Tickets £9.
The Elves and the Shoemaker, Norden Farm, Tues 22 Nov – Fri 30 Dec
Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company join Norden Farm this Christmas with an up-to-date, size 13 1/2 re-telling of everyone’s favourite story about elves and shoes. With puppets, dancing, comedy and quirky songs, will there be a happy ever after? All I know is that there are shoes made of bread, shoes that can make you dance and feather shoes that tickle your feet until you can’t stop laughing… I’m loving the updated vibe already! Tickets from £11.50.
Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, 23 Nov – 2 Jan 2017
The beautiful gardens at Kew get a festive makeover as trees, buildings and pathways are light up like, er, Christmas. Follow the mile-long path between a carpet of light swaying like blossom, past trees dripping in giant crystals, and see the tunnel of light, this year animated by more than 60,000 lights making patterns and pictures in time to festive music. There are also rides, food and drink, including mulled wine, spiced cider and roasting chestnuts. Christmas doesn’t get much more Christmassy than this.
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB. kew.org
Book now for later
High Society, Mill at Sonning, 24 Nov – 14 Jan 2017
The Mill’s offering over the festive season is Cole Porter’s most ‘swellegant, elegant’ musical, High Society. It’s a feel-good musical about bride-to-be Tracy Lord planning her lavish nuptials with 700 guests and oceans of Champagne, but matters are complicated by the arrival of her glamorous (and dangerous) ex-husband and news reporter Mike Connor, sent to cover the wedding, who has fallen head over heels in love with her. A classic romantic screwball comedy; aka heaps of fun. Tickets from £45.50 include a two-course meal, and from 24 Nov to 23 Dec it’s a special ‘High Society’ festive menu.