Top ten Christmas cabaret shows 2012

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We round-up the best long-running festive cabaret shows

OTT dressing up, too much booze, swinging from the chandeliers and an unexpected comedown or two… Christmas was made for cabaret! Ben Walters rounds up some of the highlights of this year’s festive offerings from London’s scene.

  • Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!

    Dec 15-23, The Albany

    It may not be a Christmas-themed show but New York performance legend Penny Arcade’s signature piece, reprised from a couple of successful runs earlier in the year, is all about spreading goodwill. With four decades’ experience, including collaborations with Andy Warhol, Arcade mixes memoir, character comedy and radical satire to explore misogyny and capitalist repression with results that are witty, germane, acute, humane and unmissable. The hot dancers don’t hurt, either – they’re locally recruited, as are a number of special guest performers.

    Find out more about 'Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!'
  • Boom & Bang Circus

    Dec 6-28, Matcham Room

    The Hippodrome’s Matcham Room has provided the venue’s new incarnation as a casino with a stream of strong songbook performers but this new show promises to reconnect with its circus and music-hall heritage. From some of the minds (and bodies) behind the Boom Boom Club, it boasts a great line-up, including Dusty Limits, Kitty Bang Bang and Lucky Franco, and should be just the thing to get those festive juices flowing.

    Find out more about 'Boom & Bang Circus'
  • The Comatose Beauty

    Until Fri Dec 28, The RVT

    This year’s RVT panto is an up-to-date take on Sleeping Beauty written by Myra DuBois, who stars as – what else? – the wicked witch. The setting is contemporary Vauxhall with Mzz Kimberley as the titular innocent led astray in dodgy clubs. More could perhaps be made of the satirical potential but the performances – it also features Alp Haydar, Holestar and Lorraine Bowen – are fun and there are more pop singalongs than you can shake a jingly stick at.

    Find out more about 'The Comatose Beauty'
  • David Hoyle & Richard Thomas: Merrie Hell

    Thu Nov 29 - Sat Jan 5 2013, Soho Theatre

    The indomitable David Hoyle – scourge of heteronormative complacency and supplier of camp laughs – gets all spangly for Christmas with the help of Richard Thomas (‘Jerry Springer: The Opera’). It’s Hoyle’s first sort-of double act and Thomas’s first live performance for 16 years; together, they have a rather sweet rapport. Top hats and tap dancing galore – but don’t expect any punches to be pulled. True to Hoyle’s sensibility, the stress will be on the gruelling side of Yule, its hypocrisies and hardships – but in a spirit of love.

    Find out more about 'David Hoyle & Richard Thomas: Merrie Hell'
  • The Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin Christmas Show

    Dec 5-22, Matcham Room

    For those who like their festive season to swing, there’s no better place to catch a dash of Rat Pack spirit. Stephen Triffitt and Mark Adams personify Frank and Dino, promising a festive set of songs, patter and old-school glamour.

    Find out more about 'The Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin Christmas Show'
  • Meow Meow's Little Match Girl

    Dec 13-30, Queen Elizabeth Hall

    One of the international cabaret scene’s outstanding acts, Meow Meow doesn’t just sing like a dream (in multiple languages), she personifies the joyously chaotic collaboration between audience and performer that the best cabaret relies on. For this seasonal show, she draws on Hans Christian Andersen to weave a tale of fire and darkness, poverty and spectacle – though narrative takes a decidedly supporting role in a show revolving around our charismatic star.

    Find out more about 'Meow Meow's Little Match Girl'
  • The Pale Blue Door: A Mid-Christmas Nightmare

    Fri Nov 30 - Sat Dec 22, at a secret Dalston location

    The Pale Blue Door is the momma of all pop-up dining experiences, set amid the nooks and crannies of Tony Hornecker’s ramshackle-divine homemade rabbit-hole of a residence. Alt-drag thunderball A Man to Pet hosts, performing a range of hilarious and peculiar numbers. For this macabre festive outing, the gang have roped in an ass, a fairy, a dead celeb and a dash of the Bard.

    Find out more about 'The Pale Blue Door: A Mid-Christmas Nightmare'
  • Yule Tide Tease

    Until Sat Dec 29, Proud Cabaret City

    This subterranean City hideaway plays host to a month of variety shindigs with a Christmassy theme, promising burlesque, comedy, magic, acrobatics and more. The acts vary but there are some corkers in the mix, including gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo, burlesque dynamo Kiki Kaboom and comic-acrobat-singer Abi Collins.

    Find out more about 'Yule Tide Tease'
  • Camp (as Christmas)

    Dec 13-22, Roundhouse

    Scottee’s run of ‘Camp’ earlier this year was a cracking collision of progressive sensibility and tits ’n’ teeth showmanship – one part forward-thinking provocation, one part glittery showtune fabulousness. Christmas, with its relentless kitsch and underlying notes of sincerity, is the ideal canvas for a seasonal version of the show. The esoteric likes of the winner of ‘Baghdad’s Got Talent’, Nando Messias, Jayde Adams, Josephine Shaker and Gloria Swansong are on hand with their crackers.

    To tie in with his festive show, Scottee has recorded a special camp podcast, exclusively available to listen to here. Scottee and his guests, including Princess Julia, Jodie Harsh, Bourgeois & Maurice and the Broken Hearts ponder such weighty topics as whether Madonna is camp, the difference between gay camp and girl camp and, well, everything from Twitter to Gary Glitter, really. All that plus songs from the likes of Kylie and Eartha Kitt… Get her!

    Find out more about 'Camp (as Christmas)'

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