What would this time of year be without a trip to the theatre for young and old alike…
By Mamie Colfox
THERE are a host of pantomime shows at this time of year – some with diverse casts and storylines to match – from fairy tale favourites to adaptations of Disney classics and we’ve picked a few here – which mostly run beyond Christmas.
There are also family-friendly shows which make great outings for all, so put your Christmas hat on and explore your options… One little proviso though – with the spread of omicron coronavirus variant, do check the individual listings and see how government regulations might change theatre in the coming days…
‘Hansel and Gretel’ – classic outdoor show by Saikat Ahamed
NOTHING like a walk in the woods, is there at this time of year, snow or not? Described as “deliciously dark” but fun, you don’t need to know anything of the original Brothers Grimm fairytale ‘Hansel & Gretel’ to enjoy this. Writer Saikat Ahamed (pictured right) and composer Ellie Showering bring this thoroughly modern and imaginative production to the illuminated woodland area of Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol.
A walking production created for these times, the show consists of small groups of people starting out at staggered times in an outdoor setting and keeping safe.
There are going to be a few surprises as the audience walks through the atmospheric woods and you will need to be on your toes and follow the show to get home okay – so long as you can see where the breadcrumb trail leads…
Ahamed is a writer-performer and is recognised for his ‘Strictly Balti’ show which enjoyed rave reviews. Showering is a singer, composer and performer who focuses mostly on A cappella (singing without musical accompaniment) and recognised for theatre work, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Wasp Woman the Musical’.
The production has been created by Insane Root which specialises in “thrilling theatrical experiences rooted in extraordinary places”. It describes this as “Bristol’s most unique festive show” and a festive experience not to be missed! Insane Root’s ‘Rumpelstiltskin at the New Room’ and ‘Romeo & Juliet in Eastville Park Swimming Pool’ have proved hugely popular and been critically acclaimed.
The one-hour shows end on January 1 and have been running all this month.
Listing: Hansel & Gretel, (December 1) until January 1, start times between 4pm-8.30pm, no shows December 25-28. Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Road, Bristol, BS4 3EW.
Qasim Mahmood and Irvine Iqbal star in new version of ‘Aladdin’ by comedian Vikki Stone
WITH a distinct nod to the original – not Disney’s version of it, comedian, writer and musician Vikki Stone grants her Aladdin (Qasim Mahmood) unlimited wishes – not just three.
This is the writer’s debut panto work and she’s not holding back.
Looking to make his fortune and find love on the way, our intrepid hero crosses the path of Abanazzer (Irvine Iqbal) and Jasmine (Ellana Vincent) to name just two. There’s a magic carpet, adventure, romance and some testing moments for Aladdin.
Stone injects topical humour and some musing about food, again inspired by the original story (see link at end) ‘Aladdin’, to take us on a magical journey to the stars and back. It’s directed by Abigail Graham whose previous work includes ‘The Tyler Sisters’ and ‘Death of a Salesman’
With a diverse cast, the Lyric says there will be “live music, lamps and plenty of laughs” in a just over two-hour show.
Appropriate from age six and upwards. Performances re-start from tomorrow (December 23) following a covid outbreak among the company.
Listing: ‘Aladdin’, (November 19) to Thursday, January 2, Matinee and evenings. Check times please. Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Lyric Square, King St, London, W6 0QL https://lyric.co.uk/shows/aladdin-2021/
‘The Snowman’ at Birmingham Rep, modernity and tradition in family fave
WITH 17 dancers, five musicians and a stage crew of 20, this production of ‘The Snowman’ is nothing if not imaginative and thrilling as its characters take flight.
Based on Raymond Brigg’s tale, it features Howard Blake’s famous song ‘Walking in the Air’.
Be prepared for a midnight adventure with the young boy (Jax Fenner) and The Snowman (Bradley Applewhaite), as they encounter Father Christmas, dancing penguins, reindeer and The Snowman’s friends.
Featuring a diverse cast, such as Japanese dancer Pearl Okada (who plays Penguin and makes her professional debut) and Applewhaite as The Snowman, this show is sure to get you in the festive spirit. Young Ethan Sokontwe is among the young cast and plays the part of a boy.
Note it starts in the New Year (2022) and runs for just three nights.
Listing: ‘The Snowman’, Thursday, January 6-Sunday, January 9 2022. Birmingham Rep, 6 Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2EP. https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-snowman/#gallery
Modern take on classic ‘Red Riding Hood’ at Theatre Royal Stratford
KNOWN for taking classic classic stories and turning them upside down, Stratford East brings a modern take on a much loved childhood tale.
This modern production of ‘Red Riding Hood’ will transport you to the deep, dark woods where everything is not as it seems.
There is multi-ethnic cast and expect lots of nods and references to modern Britain in this two hours and fifteen minutes tale.
There’s comedy, singing, dancing and the theatre guarantees a brilliant night out for all.
Some shows have socially distanced seating.
Listing: ‘Red Riding Hood’, until Friday, December, 31 – Theatre Royal, Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London, E15 1BN. https://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/red-riding-hood#BookingDetails
‘Cinder’allayah’ – Muslim inspired panto returns
BACK in theatres and finishing its touring run tomorrow (December 23) is ‘Cinder’allayah’ – described as the first and only Muslim panto to have been created in Britain.
Written, directed and starring comedian and actor Abdullah Afzal (‘Citizen Khan’), its last listed performances are tomorrow (December 23). It was first staged in 2018 and is backed by charity PennyAppeal which is raising cash through its run. It’s been touring the north of England mainly and is ending its run in Manchester and is indicated as sold out currently. Check the venue at Forum Hall, Forum Square, Wythenshawe. https://pennyappeal.org/event/the-great-muslim-pantomime
Not pantomime but family fun
‘Life of Pi’ London stage adaptation of Booker Prize winner is thrill for all
NOW running through to May 2022, Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s prize-winning novel, ‘Life of Pi’ is brought to vivid life by fantastic puppets and super acting.
“He (Martel) wanted the animals to appear dangerous all the time,” Chakrabarti told www.asianculturevulture.com in an interview with us to be published shortly.
The story is basically that of a shipwrecked Indian boy, who loses his zoo-rearing family and everything dear to him and then has to share a boat with a speaking Bengal tiger called Richard Parker.
Allegorical, philosophical and affecting, this production first premiered in Sheffield in 2019 before coming to the West End.
The puppets will enchant young and old – and aren’t, as Martel wanted, terribly friendly or cuddly…
Hiren Abeysekera plays Pi, Mina Anwar, his mother, Raj Ghatak, his father, while his sister, Rani, is Payal Mistry.
Listing: Until May 29, Wyndham’s Theatre, London WC2H 05DA https://www.wyndhamstheatre.co.uk/whats-on/life-of-pi
Ayesha Dharker in ‘The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage’
ALSO featuring Sid Sagar, this stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s prequel to his Dark Materials novel trilogy, follows two young people.
They both find themselves having to fight for a small child, Lyra Belacqua who holds their fate of their future.
This production is set to resume from next week, on Tuesday, December 28.
Listing: ‘The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage’, The Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, London, SE1 2SG. https://www.bridgetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-book-of-dust/