Film - Theatre - Music/Dance - Books - TV - Gallery - Art - Fashion/Lifestyle - Video

The Witches; Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol; Hansel & Gretel; Arabian Nights; The Jungle Book – Christmas shows still on…

The Witches; Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol; Hansel & Gretel; Arabian Nights; The Jungle Book – Christmas shows still on…

One of the treats of the Yuletide Season is the amazing number of theatre shows aimed at children and adults to enjoy together, here’s a selection that won’t disappoint…

By Suman Bhuchar

WE PRESENT some of the season’s favourite ones but there are lots more to choose from in your local area…

The Witches

Irvine Iqbal (third left) in the Witches Company – Mr Stringer (centre/Daniel Maltby) ©MarcBrenner
Luke (Vishal Soni), Gran (Sally Ann Triplett) and
Mr Stringer (Daniel Rigby) ©MarcBrenner

THE NATIONAL THEATRE’S Christmas show is a very rich and sumptuous adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s book, ‘The Witches’. The books and lyrics are by Lucy Kirkwood, music and lyrics by Dave Malloy and it is directed by Lyndsey Turner. 
Fun, enjoyable and dark, the basic premise is that the witches hate children and by bribing them with sweet treats, they turn them into mice. They look like middle aged domestic housewives and claim “we recycle, we do yoga and Pilates!”
But witches can be recognised by their hands and feet, so they wear gloves and boots all the time to hide their claws and toeless feet. Their aim is to rid England of the entire population of children.
Using animation, coloured sets and sweets, rich cinema references including those from ‘Sunset Boulevard’ or ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, this is a visual sensual world that unfolds on stage.
The story is a bit dark and suitable for children aged eight and over. Luke lives with his parents and wants a pet but he has to wait till he’s eleven years old to get one. Just then sadly Luke’s parents meet with an unfortunate accident, so he is then put under the guardianship of his cigar smoking, Gran (Sally Ann Triplett), from Norway who is a Witchbuster.
Soon she has a heart attack and has to go to a mad hotel in Bournemouth to recover where the witches are meeting for an annual gathering — Katherine Kingsley is fabulous as the baddie, Grand High Witch and arch nemesis of Gran.
Luke is played by three young children and on the night went it was played by Vishal Soni and his posh sweet toothed friend Bruce (played by William Skinner). They are very much a pair.
It’s a musical and there are 10 songs in each act and has a cast of 32, (including Irvine Iqbal who does a turn as a Chef Chevalier (chief cook) and a doctor. He also gets to sing, ‘Bon Appétit’, which can put you off eating out for a long time!  The children try to outwit the witches but are soon turned into mice. The moral of the story really is be nice to the mice in your kitchen. I daren’t say more!

The Witches (original by Roald Dahl), adapted Lucy Kirkwood, and Dave Molloy and Roald Dahl Story Company until January 27 (2024)
If price (£66-£99) is a consideration try to get the Friday Rush tickets
Book in for the free activity trail as well if you want more witchy fun

Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol

Tiny Tim (Chloe Sommer) and Bob Cratchit (Callum Broome) ©SteveGregson

THIS is ‘A Christmas Carol‘ told from the perspective of Tiny Tim, the little boy whose life was saved by the timely intervention of Scrooge, thanks to the ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve (as first penned by Charles Dickens in a ‘A Christmas Carol’).
Now the tables have turned and in this two hander, it is Tiny Tim who has to save his workaholic father Bob Cratchit from over-stretching himself and losing the joy of Christmas.
Basically they recount the core version of the story as adapted and directed by Becca Chadder. (The original tale  is still playing at the Old Vic – see our review here.) It is performed by Callum Broome (Cratchit) and Chloë Sommer (Tiny Tim) – who mainly play the key roles and also several different characters.
Sommer is fantastic with her infectious enthusiasm and her way of getting the young audience to participate in the story – asking them to create scary sound effects. Broome is great in his many parts, including that of young Scrooge, Mrs Cratchit and the sequence where Marley is teaching Ebenezer how to dance.
Tiny Tim’s ‘A Christmas Carol‘ is a delightful show with strong performances suitable for aged five and above.

‘Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Becca Chadder, until January 6 – The Orange Tree Theatre, 1 Clarence Street, Richmond TW9 2QE

Hansel and Gretel

Witch (Ayesha Dharker) ‘Hansel & Gretel‘ – ©EllieKurttz

IN THIS year’s Globe theatre’s winter show, ‘Hansel and Gretel’  is a verse adaptation by poet Simon Armitage of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy-tale of the siblings abandoned in a forest and found by a witch who lives in a gingerbread and candy house. She wants to fatten Hansel before eating him but the quick wit of Gretel saves the day.
The show is performed outdoors at the Globe theatre and is a treat for families and children aged five and over. It features Ayesha Dharker as the witch, has music, dance and sugar galore. Fun fact: the cake artwork for the show was designed by Steven Carter-Bailey who was part of ‘The Great British Bake Off‘ in 2017. All these fairy tales have really dark undertones and the moral of the story here like ‘The Witches’ – is beware of strangers, as appearances can be deceptive.

Hansel & Gretel (original by the Brothers Grimm) adapted by Simon Armitage, until January 7, Shakespeare’s Globe, 21, New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT. 

Arabian Nights

Maruf (Saikat Ahmed) and the Magical Horse in ‘Arabian Nights’ ©EllieKurttz
Sara Diab Dina in ‘Arabian Nights

ANOTHER classic has been readapted and continues to delight audiences is ‘Arabian Nights’ – these collection of stories put together during the Islamic Golden Age (9th-13th century) which came to the West in translation from the 18th century onwards. Since then individual stories from the pantheon such as ‘Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves’, ‘Aladdin’ or ‘Sinbad The Sailor’ have become popular entertainment.
In this adaptation from writer Sonali Bhattacharyya and director Blanche McIntyre, Schere (Yasemin Ozdemir) and Dina (Sara Diab) (taken from ‘Scheherazade‘)  are two sisters – daughter of the fisherman, Maruf (played by Saikat Ahamed).
Schere wants to liberate all the young women of the realm from the tyrannical King (Nicholas Karimi), who takes his revenge on all women after his wife has left him. A mixture of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ and part modern day Christmas story, complete with puppets and songs, this enduring tale has universal appeal.
As the artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic Nancy Medina said: “The enduring potency of tales from the Middle East that have long appeared in Western culture at this time of year. ‘Arabian Nights’ is ” a universal story of good versus evil, of hope and wonder, of two sisters that inspire collective power to make positive change where they live. It is a story and a show for everyone.”

Arabian Nights, adapted by Sonali Bhattarchayya, until January 6 – Bristol Old Vic, King Street, Bristol BS1 4ED

The Jungle Book

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre – The Jungle Book ©JohanPersson

AT THE CHICHESTER FESTIVAL THEATRE, there is a new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ also by Sonali Bhattacharyya and performed by the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.
Directed by Matt Hassall with music and original songs by Ruth Chan, Mowgli is a girl child discovered by the wolf pack, raised as one of them and later threatened by Shere Khan in this story of adventure, friendship and family.
This version has an original cast of 70 young performers bringing the jungle and its creatures to life in a vibrant new version of trying to discover where you belong and who your friends really are.

The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Sonali Bhattacharyya, until December 31, Chichester Festival Theatre

Share Button
Written by Asian Culture Vulture