Pantomimes in central London
Even though the London Palladium’s Christmas pantos have only actually been running since 2016, the core team now seem pretty much inseparable: you get Julian Clarey being smutty, you get Paul Zerdin doing some ventriloquist malarkey, you get Nigel Havers doing an ironic Nigel Havers impression, and you get reaktive newcomer (he missed the 2016 show) Gary Wilmot on daming duty. This year they’re back with ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, a somewhat off-piste choice that's rarely adapted into panto format. It’ll probably pull it off on sheer star power, though: Paul O’Grady (who previously did the 2016 panto) is back to star as The Evil Ringmaster (yeah, us neither) with Clarey as The Ringmaster, Paul Zerdin as Silly Billy, Nigel Havers as Daddy Bear and Gary Wilmot as Dame Betty Barnum, plus telly presenter Matt Baker as Joey the Clown.
Pantomimes in east London
Hackney Empire's panto is the typically the cream of the crop, with its gorgeous traditional sets, best-in-the-biz dame Clive Rowe, and East London spin on time-honoured gags. They haven't announced if Rowe's on board yet, but otherwise it seems to be business as usual for Susie McKenna, the panto's longtime writer and director. For 2019, it's 'Dick Whittington and His Cat', a rag-to-riches story with a magical moggy at its heart.
With original songs, an authentically East London feel and bargain basement prices, Theatre Royal Stratford East offers a panto experience to rival Hackney Empire's winning annual offering. This year, it's staging the story of a plucky lad, his cat, and their quest to make their fortune in London town. After penning the songs for several Stratford hit pantos in years gone by, Robert Hyman is back on board with a new collaborator, playwright David Watson. John Haidar directs.
Pantomimes in west London
Arguably London's edgiest panto, Lyric Hammersmith has landed on the winning formula of getting rising writing and directing talents to put a subversive spin on their Christmas show. This year it's the turn of director Tinuke Craig and writer Jude Christian (returning after a stint on last year's show). Going on previous form, there's bound to be loads of pop songs, puns galore, a chorus of local young people, and a very 2019 approach to panto tradition.
Pantomimes in south London
Greenwich Theatre's annual panto is the classic fairytale about the dozy princess and her fearsome apple-poisoning adversary. 'Sleeping Beauty' is the handiwork of Andrew Pollard, who's penned dozens of pantomimes for the venue, typically mixing appealingly glitzy sets, a pop soundtrack, and plenty of subversive touches.
Sleeping Trees pop up each Christmas with totally irreverent spins on panto tradition. This year they're mashing together the long-locked fairytale with a swashbuckling French adventure story to stage 'Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers' at Battersea Arts Centre. A small but hard-working cast of wise-cracking performers will romp through this mash-up story, with songs and audience participation a plenty. Ages four-plus.
Pantomimes in north London
Boutique panto mongers Charles Court Opera are back at King's Head Theatre with one of their signature seasonal spectaculars. After last year's Egyptian-themed knees up, they're wandering into more typically festive territory with a comic (but apparently respectful) look at Jesus's origin story. Writer/director John Savournin and songwriter David Eaton will cook up a gleeful, pun-filled take on the man who put the 'Christ' in Christmas.
More family Christmas shows
Make Christmas more magical with a trip to one of London's many family-friendly Christmas shows. There's theatre big and bright enough to keep little ones enthralled and performances sweet and subtle enough to entertain the whole family. Find the one that all of your lot will love and book tickets so you don't miss out.
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