Follow Us on Twitter

Cats - final casting announced

Casting news

FINAL casting has been announced for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical Cats, which returns to the West End for a strictly limited run at the London Palladium – from December 11, 2014 (previews from December 6) to February 28, 2015.

As well as Nicole Scherzinger, who will be making her West End stage debut as Grizabella, the line up includes Cameron Ball (as Macavity/Admetus), Kathryn Barnes (Tantomile), Cassie Clare (Cassandra), Ross Finnie (Skimbleshanks), Charlene Ford (Bombalurina), Stevie Hutchinson (Pouncival), Adam Lake (Alonzo)…

…Paul F Monaghan (Bustopher Jones/Asparagus/Growl Tiger), Joel Morris (Carbucketty), Natasha Mould (Jemima), Benjamin Mundy (Coricopat), Antoine Murray-Straughan (Rum Tum Tugger), Joseph Poulton (Quaxo/Mistoffelees), Nicholas Pound (Old Deuteronomy), Sophia Ragavelas (alternate Grizabella)…

…Clare Rickard (Jellylorum/ Griddlebone), Adam Salter (Bill Bailey), Laurie Scarth (Jennyanydots), Hannah Kenna Thomas (Victoria/White Cat), Callum Train (Munkustrap), Zizi Strallen (Demeter), Dawn Williams (Rumpleteazer) and Benjamin Yates (Mungojerrie).

The are joined by swings Ryan Gover, Barry Haywood, Alice Jane, Grace McKee, Dane Quixall and Libby Watts.

On just one special night of the year, all Jellicle cats meet at the Jellicle Ball where Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, makes the Jellicle choice and announces which of them will go up to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.

Read more about Cats.

James McAvoy returns to Trafalgar Studios

James McAvoy. Photo By Jay Brooks.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BAFTA winning and Golden Globe nominated actor James McAvoy returns to Trafalgar Transformed to play Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney, in the first revival of Peter Barnes’ satirical comedy, The Ruling Class.

Directed by Artistic Director, Jamie Lloyd, it runs from January 27 (previews from January 16) to April 11, 2015.

McAvoy previously took the title role in Jamie Lloyd’s Macbeth, which launched the first Trafalgar Transformed season and earned him an Olivier award nomination for Best Actor. That production was also nominated for Best Revival.

Jack, a possible paranoid schizophrenic with a Messiah complex, inherits the title of the 14th Earl of Gurney after his father passes away in a bizarre accident. Singularly unsuited to a life in the upper echelons of elite society, Jack finds himself at the centre of a ruthless power struggle as his scheming family strives to uphold their reputation.

Bubbling with acerbic wit and feverish energy, Olivier Award-winning and Oscar-nominated writer Peter Barnes’ razor-sharp satire combines a ferocious mix of hilarity and horror whilst mercilessly exposing the foibles of the English nobility.

The Ruling Class premiered in 1968 at Nottingham Playhouse and promptly transferred to the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End, where it won the 1969 Evening Standard Award for Best Drama. And in 1972, a film adaptation starred Peter O’Toole, who received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jack.

Jamie Lloyd said: “I am honoured to be directing the first ever revival of Peter Barnes’ anarchic cult comedy, which takes a satirical look at the Establishment and will, therefore, feel more politically resonant than ever in the run up to the General Election next year.

“With the news that James McAvoy could join us again, I felt that this vivid production of Barnes’ explosively funny play should conclude the second Trafalgar Transformed season. James kick-started our ambitious venture with his incendiary Macbeth, so it feels as if everything has come full circle. I am delighted to introduce the work of Peter Barnes to our young and diverse audience at Trafalgar.”

James McAvoy said: “I had an incredible time in Trafalgar Transformed‘s Macbeth and couldn’t wait to find something else to work on with Jamie Lloyd. Jamie, his producing partners and their team are committed to making theatre that is accessible to all. I love being a part of that and it has been great to see them transform the demographic of their West End audience, not least with the inspiring £15 Mondays initiative.

“I can’t wait to play this challenging role in Barnes’ forgotten masterpiece. This play combines all the things that Jamie’s seasons are about, and for me what theatre is when it’s at its best: it is wild, funny, shocking, subversive and brutal, and, most importantly, entertaining.”

James McAvoy’s other theatre credits include Three Days of Rain (Olivier Award nomination) at the Apollo Theatre, also directed by Lloyd; Breathing Corpses at the Royal Court; Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse and Out in the Open at Hampstead Theatre.

On screen, McAvoy was recently seen as corrupt cop Bruce Robertson in Filth, for which he received a BIFA Best Actor Award, London Critics’ Circle Best British Actor Award and an Empire Award for Best Actor. He also recently reprised his role as Professor Charles Xavier in Fox’s highly anticipated X-Men: Days of Future Past. He can next be seen in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby opposite Jessica Chastain.

McAvoy most recently completed production on Paul McGuigan’s Frankenstein with Daniel Radcliffe and in Spring 2015 will begin production on X Men: Apocalypse.

His other film credits include The Last King of Scotland (BAFTA, European Film Award, BIFA and London Film Critics’ Circle award nominations), Inside I’m Dancing (US title: Rory O’Shea Was Here) (London Film Critics’ Circle award for Best British Actor), Atonement (Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Actor as well as the London Film Critics’ Circle Award, the Santa Barbara Film Festival Award and the UK Regional Critics Award), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (BAFTA Rising Star Award and the London Film Critics’ Award nomination for British Actor in a Supporting role), Becoming Jane, Penelope, Wanted, X-Men: First Class, The Conspirator, Gnomeo and Juliet, Arthur Christmas, Welcome to the Punch and Trance.

Peter Barnes (1931-2004) was an Olivier Award-winning playwright and screenwriter and the most produced living playwright of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His other plays include The Bewitched, Jubilee, The Candlemaker, Laughter, Red Noses (which won an Olivier Award for Best Play), Sunset and Glories, Lunar Park Eclipsis and Corpsing. Barnes also worked on several adaptation including Wedekind’s Lulu plays (which he co-directed), Jonson’s The Devil Is An Ass (1973) and The Alchemist, and Feydeau’s Scenes from a Marriage.

Jamie Lloyd’s theatre credits include Richard III, The Pride, The Hothouse and Macbeth (Olivier nomination for Best Revival), all for Jamie Lloyd Productions at Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios. Elsewhere, his numerous credits include Urinetown The Musical (St. James Theatre and Apollo Theatre), The Commitments (Palace Theatre), The Duchess of Malfi (Old Vic) and She Stoops to Conquer (National Theatre, Whatsonstage nomination for Best Revival).

Tickets: £15 – £52.50. Premium Seats Available. On sale to ATG Theatrecard Holders on Monday, October 27 from 10am and on general sale from Wednesday, October 29 from 10am.

NB: All tickets will be £15 on Mondays. Half of these will be made available through a special outreach scheme, targeted towards schools and first-time theatregoers. The other half will be released monthly to the public on the first day of each month and will be available online or at Trafalgar Studios box office.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm.

Image: James McAvoy by Jay Brooks.

East is East, the second production in Jamie Lloyd’s second season for Trafalgar Transformed continues at Trafalgar Studios until January 3, 2015.

Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games transfers to Dominion Theatre

ames Keegan (Lord Of The Dance) & Company. Photo by Brian Doherty.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

DUE to popular demand and following a sold-out run at the London Palladium, Michael Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games, will transfer to the Dominion Theatre next year, running for six months from Monday, March 9 to Saturday, September 5, 2015.

Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games received its West End premiere at the London Palladium in early September with an exclusive and limited run. The show, which features Michael Flatley in his final West End performances, has its final performance this Saturday, October 25, 2014, ahead of a World Tour.

“It was always my dream to bring Lord Of The Dance to the West End. We have had such a wonderful reception from the audiences who have raised the roof at the Palladium every night” said Flatley, adding “I am absolutely thrilled that this great cast of stars and talented dancers will make their new home at the Dominion next year.”

A spectacular new staging of the traditional masterpiece, and with all the visceral precision and thrills of the original, Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games features new staging including Holo-Gauze™ screen technology displaying holographic-effect projections, new costumes and new choreography.

Directed and choreographed by Michael Flatley, Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games stars James Keegan, Morgan Comer and Mathew Smith as the Lords Of The Dance alongside 40 of the world’s most outstanding young performers. It’s a show that combines the best of tradition with all the excitement of new music (by composer Gerard Fahy) and dance.

And tonight, Michael Flatley will be inducted into the London Palladium Hall of Fame following his performance in Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games – an honour shared with stars including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Barry Manilow, Danny Kaye, Nat King Cole, Sammy David Jr, Liza Minnelli, Ginger Rogers, Julie Andrews, Shirley MacLean and The Beatles.

Michael Flatley’s innovative and ground-breaking choreography and unforgettable performance at the 1994 Eurovision, saw his work change the world of dance and particularly Irish dance forever. Followed by massive global success with the creation of hit shows Lord Of The Dance, Feet of Flames and Celtic Tiger, Flatley’s extraordinary career has seen the artist and musician – holder of a place in the Guinness Book of Records for an incredible 35 taps per second – break box office records and thrill audiences around the world for over two decades.

Tickets: £19:50 – £90 and go on sale today (October 24, 2014) at 10am. To book, call the Dominion on 0845 200 7982 or visit www.dominiontheatre.com/ or www.lordofthedance.com/.

Evita, starring Marti Pellow, Madalena Alberto and Ben Forster, continues at the Dominion Theatre until November 1, 2014. It will be followed – from November 8, 2014 to January 3, 2015 – by Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Shipwrecked! An entertainment - Jack Studio Theatre

Shipwrecked! An entertainment

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Jack Studio Theatre is presenting the UK Premiere of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – the amazing adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself). Written by Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist Donald Margulies, it runs from Tuesday, December 9, 2014 to Sunday, January, 4, 2015.

Truth is stranger than Fiction but De Rougemont is stranger than both. The Wide World Magazine, June 1899.

Louis de Rougemont took Victorian England by storm with his tales of adventure on the high seas. Now Louis invites 21st century audiences to witness his story of bravery, survival and celebrity that left his readers spellbound.

Embarking on an epic journey, Louis encounters extraordinary creatures and strange islands, overcomes storms, shipwreck and attacks by a native tribe and a man-eating octopus, only to return to London thirty years later to publish his exploits.

Shipwrecked is a story that captivated and divided nineteenth century society. Is Louis de Rougemont an adventurer capable of amazing deeds, or is he merely a teller of tall tales?

Produced by Karl Swinyard, Shipwrecked is directed by Kate Bannister, Artistic Director of the Jack Studio Theatre, and has set design by Dave Benson, with lighting by William Ingham and sound by Max Pappenheim. Casting has still to be announced.

Shipwrecked is produced by the same team behind The Mystery of Irma Vep (nominated for five Off West End Awards, including best director and best production), Ghost Train, Around the World in 80 Days and Sleepy Hollow.

Donald Margulies is an American playwright born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1954. In 2000, Mr Margulies received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Dinner with Friends, which has been produced throughout the world. His other plays include Sight Unseen (winner of an OBIE Award), Time Stands Still, Brooklyn Boy and Collected Stories.

Louis de Rougemont was born Henri Louis Grin in 1847 in Switzerland. He left home at the age of 16 before settling in Sydney. There he started a family and attempted numerous ill-fated money-making schemes. He also collected adventure stories. In 1898, he began to write about his adventures in the British periodical The Wide World Magazine under the name Louis De Rougemont. He described his alleged exploits in search of pearls and gold in New Guinea, and claimed to have spent thirty years living in the Australian outback. De Rougemont became a sensation in Victorian London.

However, some readers expressed disbelief in his tales from the start. Readers’ arguments in the Daily Chronicle and other newspapers continued for months, fuelling circulation. Eventually Grin’s fame was his downfall. His abandoned family and duped customers recognized his picture in the newspaper and came forward with accounts of the real Louis.

Though publicly discredited, Grin continued to appear in theatres as Louis de Rougemont, offering demonstrations of his turtle-riding skills as proof of his authenticity. Interest in de Rougemont soon waned, and Grin disappeared from the public life. In 1921, he died in poverty in London.

Tickets: £14, £11 concessions – available from the box office on 0333 666 3366 or online at www.brockleyjack.co.uk/ (£1.50 fee for online bookings only).

Time: 7.45pm.

NB: No performances: December 14-15, December 21, December 23-27 and December 31 to January 1.

Dying For It by Moira Buffini continues at the Jack Studio Theatre until November 8, 2014. It will be followed – from November 11 to November 29, 2014 – by the London premiere of David Bown’s Loaded.

Siro-A return to London with new show

Siro-A

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MULTI-award-winning techno phenomenon, Siro-A, have brought their groundbreaking theatrical experience back to London for an electrifying third season, after stunning the world with their revolutionary mix of visual effects, mime, dance, comedy, music, magic, puppetry and audience participation.

Following sold-out tours in Germany and America and critically-acclaimed international shows, Siro-A have returned to the capital for a three-month season at Leicester Square Theatre (until January 11, 2015) with a rebooted extravaganza, which also features exciting seasonal surprises over Christmas.

Siro-A have been billed as “Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group,” although their name means “impossible to define,” because Siro-A’s revolutionary, live extravaganza is truly unique family entertainment, delighting the senses and transcending language and age.

Alongside an exhilarating techno soundtrack, the six performers interact with technology in remarkable new ways, fusing spectacular 3D video projection, light animation and stunning laser effects with extraordinary choreography, humour, magic and ingenious reinvention of Japan’s ancient art of shadow puppetry.

The group was formed in 2002 by six classmates from Sendai, Japan, each gifted with his own set of extraordinary, specialised skills. They shared the common goal of combining these talents to create the next generation of truly universal, non-verbal entertainment, which shatters all barriers of language, age, class and culture to thrill audiences across the globe.

Reality and animation blend seamlessly in the ever-changing, futuristic landscape that the exquisitely-timed performers explode across, enchanting fans of all ages and nationalities, earning them Mervyn Stutter’s prestigious Spirit of the Fringe award at 2011’s Edinburgh Fringe, when they first captivated the UK.

Siro-A even reinvent audience interaction with wit and technology, ensuring theatre-goers become an exciting part of each show, making it truly unique to that crowd, without singling out individuals or making anybody uncomfortable.

The hypnotic, multimedia performance oscillates between heart-stopping beauty and playful humour, with hilarious references to London and popular culture, carefully woven into their trademark “virtual hyper-reality.”

The cast comprises Kentaro Homma (DJ), Fumiya (performer), Toshiya Arai (performer), Keiji Miya (performer), Yohei (performer) and Daichi Norikane (video artist).

Tickets: Adult £20, Child £15, Family ticket £50. To book, call the box office on 08448 733433 or visit leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/.

Times: Vary (see website for details).

Also at Leicester Square Theatre: Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre’s production of Stick Man (November 8, 2014 to January 4, 2015) and the adult panto Sleeping Booty!, starring Miss Dusty ‘O’ (November 25, 2014 to January 17, 2015).

Shakespeare’s Globe granted UNESCO patronage for its Globe to Globe Hamlet tour

Theatre news

SHAKESPEARE’S Globe has announced that its Globe to Globe Hamlet, an ambitious two-year tour to every country in the world, has been granted UNESCO patronage.

Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe and Director of Hamlet said:

Globe to Globe Hamlet was created with the aim of performing Hamlet to as many people as possible, in as diverse a range of places as possible. The central principle of the tour is that Shakespeare can entertain and speak to anyone, no matter where they are on earth; and that no country or people are not better off for the lively presence of Hamlet.”

The last few months of 2014 will see Hamlet travel across South America, with a single performance at the tour’s final Caribbean island, Trinidad and Tobago, which will mark one quarter of the tour complete.

In South America, the company will perform in beautiful old theatres in Panama, Ecuador and Peru; at the Centro Cultural Chacao in Venezuela; in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in conjunction with the Gandarela Institute, the organisation building a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe in Minas Gerais; and in the culturally vibrant, eclectic cities of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Asuncion, Paraguay, one of the oldest cities in South America, known as ‘Mother of Cities’.

Since the tour began on April 23, 2014, Hamlet has played in 50 countries to 50,000 people across Europe, North and Central America, and the Caribbean.

The tour’s second leg saw performances in front of an international audience at the United Nations in New York; at the oldest theatre in Central America, the majestic Teatro Nacional de El Salvador; outside on the banks of the St Lawrence River in Canada; at a beautiful marina in Antigua and Barbuda; on a mountainside in Guatemala; in St Kitts and Nevis, where the Hamlet company became the first international theatre group to perform on the island; and in Poland, where the company was invited to open the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre.

The tour’s second leg culminated with a performance in Kazakhstan, amongst the futuristic architecture of Astana.

UNESCO patronage has been granted to Globe to Globe Hamlet in recognition of the tour’s engagement with local communities and promotion of cultural education. In Belize, the company played to an audience of local children, and in Jamaica and St Vincent & the Grenadines to students from local schools.

Proceeds from the evening performance in Belize were donated to the Lifeline Foundation, which delivers food, medicine, and other necessities to children in poverty. In Jamaica, all proceeds went to fund scholarships and grants for students of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

The company put on free performances in both the Dominican Republic and in Mexico, where Hamlet was staged in the shadow of Yucatán Cathedral, built the year before Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, to a crowd of over 2000 people.

At the 2014 UK Theatre Awards, Shakespeare’s Globe was awarded The Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre, for its touring programme including Globe to Globe Hamlet.

The Globe to Globe Hamlet tour opened at Shakespeare’s Globe on April 23, 2014, the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. This completely unprecedented theatrical adventure will see Hamlet tour to every single country on earth. Sixteen extraordinary men and women will travel across the seven continents, performing in a huge range of unique and atmospheric venues.

Globe to Globe Hamlet is a fresh, pared-down version of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of deferred revenge, with the company of twelve actors and four stage managers using a completely portable set to stage Hamlet in a brisk two hours and forty minutes.

The production is directed by Dominic Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst, designed by Jonathan Fensom and composed by Bill Barclay.

The role of Hamlet is shared by Ladi Emeruwa and Naeem Hayat. All other male and female parts are played in rotation by Keith Bartlett, John Dougall, Miranda Foster, Phoebe Fildes, Beruce Khan, Tom Lawrence, Jennifer Leong, Rawiri Paratene, Matthew Romain and Amanda Wilkin.

Taken at Midnight transfers to West End

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CURRENTLY enjoying a sold-out season in Chichester, Jonathan Church’s world premiere production of Mark Hayhurst’s new play, Taken At Midnight, will transfer to the West End – to the Theatre Royal Haymarket where it will run for a limited season from January 15 to March 14, 2015.

Reprising her role as Irmgard will be Penelope Wilton, who was last seen in the West End playing Gertrude in Michael Grandage’s 2009 production of Hamlet, which also starred Jude Law – the final production in the Donmar’s year-long West End season at the Wyndham’s Theatre.

Taken At Midnight is set in 1931 when Hans Litten is one of the most celebrated lawyers in Berlin, famed for his brilliant mind and the rhetorical flair with which he defends those fighting back against the rapidly growing Nazi movement. So, when he calls Herr Hitler as star witness in the trial of a band of murderous SA men, the politician feels the full force of Litten’s intellect, wit and courage.

It arouses in Hitler a feeling he can’t abide or forget. Two years later, on the night of the Reichstag fire, Litten is arrested. He is held without trial, beaten, tortured, and threatened as ‘an enemy of human society’.

As Litten disappears into the Nazi system, his indomitable mother, Irmgard, confronts his captors and, at enormous personal risk, fights to secure his release.

Taken At Midnight explores Irmgard’s struggle, her son’s resistance and the heroic battle of the weak against the powerful, truth against lies and mothers against murderers.

As well as Hamlet, Penelope Wilton’s other work for the Donmar Warehouse includes John Gabriel Borkman, The Little Foxes, A Kind of Alaska and Enid Bagnold’s dark comedy The Chalk Garden, for which she (and her co-star Margaret Tyzack) received the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress. Elsewhere, her credits include Women Beware Women (RSC) and The House of Bernada Alba (National Theatre).

Wilton can currently be seen playing Isobel Crawley in the popular period drama Downton Abbey. Her other screen credits include Doctor Who, Bob and Rose, Victoria and Albert and Wives and Daughters (TV); The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The History Boys, Match Point, Pride and Prejudice, Calendar Girls and Iris (film).

Staged as part of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Hidden Histories season, Taken at Midnight was commissioned by commercial producer Mark Goucher, and written with Penelope Wilton in mind. The play’s author, Mark Hayhurst, also wrote 37 Days, a major factual drama series for the BBC’s WW1 Centenary in 2014.

Further casting for the West End transfer has yet to be announced.

The West End transfer of Richard Bean’s new play, Great Britain, starring Lucy Punch as Paige Britain, continues at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until January 10, 2015.

Off W/E and Fringe Theatre Christmas Shows 2014

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

LIKE the West End, Off West End and Fringe venues have Christmas productions to suit all ages and tastes. Here, in alphabetical order, is a selection:

A Christmas Carol – Middle Temple Hall – December 20 to December 30, 2014.

West End star David Burt will play Scrooge in Antic Disposition’s magical, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ festive classic, which returns to the spectacular Elizabethan setting of Middle Temple Hall in central London.
Read more

Billy The Kid – A Panto Western – Rosemary Branch Theatre – November 28, 2014 to January 10, 2015.

Charles Court Opera’s eighth annual panto comes complete with swinging saloon doors, bar room brawls, cowboys, Indians, duels at dawn and jaw-dropping musical numbers from pop to opera.
Read more

Cinderella – New Wimbledon Theatre – December 5, 2014 to January 11, 2015.

This classic rags to riches story, which sees Cinderella transformed from a put upon maid to her horrid Ugly Sisters, to the belle of the ball, stars Matthew Kelly, Matthew Rixon and Tim Vine.

Cinderella and the Beanstalk – Theatre503 – December 2, 2014 to January 10, 2015.

A Christmas family pantomime with a twist, Sleeping Trees’ Cinderella and the Beanstalk is directed by Tom Attenborough.

A festive treat for those who love a Christmas panto and for those who don’t, Cinderella and the Beanstalk follows Cinderella on a perilous adventure as the scheming Rumple Stiltskin blackmails the would-be princess into retrieving the coveted golden eggs from the top of the beanstalk.
Read more

Cindermouse – Little Angel Theatre – November 20, 2014 to February 1, 2015.

Travel to the land of mice where hardworking little Cindermouse finds love in the arms of a prince. Drawing on the Cinderella story, this show introduces its audience to a host of colourful glove and rod puppet characters – the outrageous sisters, the delicate fairy, acrobats who tumble and dancers who twirl to the musical accompaniment. For children and families.

Emily Brown and the Thing – Jacksons Lane – December 6, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

Tall Stories (creators of the hugely popular Gruffalo stage show) present their brand new show based on the much-loved book by Cressida Cowell (writer of How to Train your Dragon) and Neal Layton.
Read more

Eric and Little Ern – St James Theatre – December 16, 2014 to January 11, 2015.

Eric and Little Ern, created and performed by Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens, is an affectionate, moving and fantastically funny stage homage to Britain’s much loved comedy double act, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.
Read more

Jabberwocky – Little Angel Theatre – November 29, 2014 to February 1, 2015.

From the director and writer of Jonah and the Whale and the designer of King Arthur and the Quest for the Grail comes this deliciously dangerous musical extravaganza inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem. See marionettes that defy the laws of language, bunraku puppets that test the limits of logic and shadows that see through sense.

Jack and the Beanstalk – Park Theatre – November 26, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

In the Kingdom of Giants a war is brewing – and, with the export of beans their only trade, outlook is limited for those of an adventurous disposition. Meanwhile in the Kingdom of Nowen, young Jack and his mother plough the fields, struggling to make enough money to eat. But events are about to spiral out of control – events that will change the future of both kingdoms forever.

Jack and the Beanstalk has book, music and lyrics by Jez Bond and Mark Cameron.

Lionboy – Tricycle Theatre – December 17, 2014 to January 10, 2015.

Adapted from the novels of Zizou Corder by Marcelo Dos Santos, Lionboy is about 11 year-old Charlie Ashanti, a perfectly normal boy, except for one thing: he can speak to cats. When Charlie’s parents are kidnapped, he sets off on a rescue mission – with a little help from a floating circus and its pride of performing lions.

Presented by ward-winning theatre company Complicite (The Master and Margarita, Shun-kin, A Disappearing Number), Lionboy fuses storytelling, circus and live percussion in a gripping adventure that is suitable for everyone aged 8 and over.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Richmond Theatre – December 5, 2014 to January 11, 2015.

This festive adventure into an enchanted fairytale forest stars Jerry Hall as the Wicked Queen. She will be joined by Cbeebies presenter Chris Jarvis as Muddles, musical theatre star Aimie Atkinson (Dirty Dancing, Never Forget) and the seven lovable dwarfs, led by Phil Holden as Prof.

The Fourth Wise Man – Unicorn Theatre – November 30, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

Everyone has heard of the Three Wise Men, but have you heard of Artaban, the fourth?

One day Artaban, the wisest of them all, spots a beautiful new star in the sky. It’s the biggest and brightest star he has ever seen, and he knows it will lead him to something special. A special baby in fact, so special that everything (and that means everything) must be perfect.
Suitable for ages 4+.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – Rose Theatre, Kingston – November 30, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

Audiences are invited to step inside a spectacular world of mythical creatures, sparkling spells and an epic battle between good and evil as C S Lewis’ classic story is brought to life on the Rose Theatre stage in an exhilarating new production.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King – Unicorn Theatre – November 21, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

This Christmas the Unicorn goes back to the roots of E.T.A. Hoffman’s magical story to create this wondrous and festive production of an old and favourite title.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1805. Seven year-old Marie retrieves the sad and broken Nutcracker from under the Christmas tree and promises to look after him. But on the stroke of midnight he comes alive, and after enlisting Marie’s help in his battle with the evil Mouse King, they journey together through strange and fantastical stories until they finally arrive in a secret land made of nothing but candy.
Suitable for ages 8+.

The Snow Dragon – St James Theatre – December 9, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

Billy has everything a young goat could need – and more besides. On New Year’s Eve, Billy’s parents tell him about the legendary Snow Dragon, who will bring him even more goodies during the night. But when Billy bumps into some wolves in the woods, New Year’s Day seems a long way off. Find out how Billy escapes – and whether the Snow Dragon will bring him a present. Has Billy been naughty or nice?

Story-telling, comedy and songs create a magical, mysterious world for everyone aged 3 and up in this production from Tall Stories (The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale).

Treasure Island – the Curse of the Pearl Necklace – Above the Stag – November 28, 2014 to January 10, 2015. Adults only.

Described as outrageous, romantic and very silly, Above The Stag’s acclaimed Christmas shows are a hugely popular festive feast of traditional panto fare and then some!
Read more

Usagi Yojimbo – Southwark Playhouse – November 28, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo is set in 17th Century Japan, in a world of bandit racoons, feline ninjas and warring animal clans.

A young rabbit leaves home, family and friends behind him in pursuit of one ambition: to become a great samurai warrior. Trained by a maverick old lion sensei – a teacher of the warrior’s code known as Bushido – Usagi learns that the way of the samurai is one of peace and perfection – not just masterful swordsmanship. But as war engulfs the land, he must make a choice that will test his loyalty, honour and dearest friendship.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – The Albany – December 10, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

As ever, the Albany will be celebrating Christmas with an iconic children’s show: this year, Little Angel Theatre’s mesmerising interpretation of Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Directed by Peter Glanville, it has music and lyrics by renowned singer-songwriter Barb Jungr.
Suitable for ages 2+.

Warehouse of Dreams supports War Child at the Lion and Unicorn

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RANDOM Thoughts Limited is presenting the world premiere of Warehouse of Dreams at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. Written by Chuck Anderson and directed by Dan Phillips, it runs from Tuesday, November 11 to Saturday, December 6, 2014.

Warehouse of Dreams explores the difficult moral decisions that aid workers who manage refugee camps have to make.

This new play, inspired by today’s shocking headlines about the tragedies unfolding in the Middle East, will help children whose lives have been uprooted by war – every ticket sold includes a £2 donation to support the humanitarian work of War Child.

This small, dynamic charity, also based in Kentish Town, provides first of all protection, and then vital care and counselling to children traumatised by war. It helps them reclaim their lost childhood and gives them the educational opportunities they need to exercise their right to a sustainable future.

Additionally, a four-week campaign has been launched on www.crowdfunder.co.uk/angel to attract extra funding for the production. Twenty percent of the sum raised will be donated to War Child.

Writer-producer Chuck Anderson said: “There are rewards for donors, too. Free tickets to the show and a copy of the theatre programme book with the complete text of the play. You can follow the progress of the production on an internet Video Diary. You can even be invited to the Press Party to meet the cast and crew.”

The cast of Warehouse of Dreams includes Jamie Thompson (as Moriarty, UNHCR Senior Field Officer), Emma Vansittart (Griselda, UNHCR Regional Director), Chris Clynes (James Stanton, UNHCR Communications Officer), Chandrika Chevil (Karen Judd, British TV journalist), Luca Pusceddu (The Colonel, Middle-eastern rebel leader) and Balqis Duvall (Sabeen, Middle-eastern refugee).

The production is designed by Rosie Motion, with sound by Kirsty Gillmore, lighting by Matthew Lux Swithinbank and photography by Jamie Scott-Smith.

Tickets: £19 (adults), £15 (concessions). To book, call the box office on 08444 77 1000 or visit www.ticketweb.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Saturday matinees at 3.30pm.

Also at the Lion and Unicorn: Jekyll and Hyde, written by Adam Dechanel and based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson (until October 25, 2014).

Read about Simon James Collier, the Lion and Unicorn’s new artistic director.

Sleeping Booty! - Leicester Square Theatre's adult panto

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS year, Leicester Square Theatre’s adult panto is Sleeping Booty! Written and directed by Stuart Saint and starring Miss Dusty ‘O’ as The Evil Mangelina, it runs from Tuesday, November 25, 2014 to Saturday, January 17, 2015.

The Evil Mangelina is wreaking havoc in pantoland, ruling with an unruly and slippery iron fist. Together with her randy but downtrodden sidekick Tit-Bit, she presides over proceedings in the filthiest manner! That is until Booty! arrives, a chavtastic ladette from the skanky Estate Upon Gusset.

Destined to become a huge star of the biggest reality show, The Only Way Is Panto Factor Made In Strictly Ice Box Challenge – The Next Chapter Rebooted, ‘Booty!’ embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, to break the mysterious ‘Christmas Curse’.

Guided by the legendary lounge singer Fairy Muff, Booty! enlists new friends – the sexually ambiguous Prince Willie Wontie and You Look Familiar – to help her discover the magical yet mythical island, Flickerty Clit and once and for all get completely and utterly pricked!

The cast also includes Alice Marshall (as Booty!), Leon Scott (Prince Willie Wontie), Paula Masterton (Fairy Muff), Rachael Born (Tit-Bit) and Alexander Beck (You Look Familiar).

Miss Dusty ‘O’ aka David Hodge is one of the most recognisable faces of the London club and cabaret scene. Dusty created, promotes and appears at iconic club Trannyshack and has done for over a decade. ‘She’ has also appeared in other infamous clubs for nearly 30 years. A regular on TV screens, Dusty most recently featured in London Live’s successful and international Drag Queens of London series.

In the summer of 2014, Dusty returned to Leicester Square Theatre to play Lady Veronica Burlington in The Music Hall Menagerie. This followed ‘her’ critically acclaimed performance in previous pantos, Dick! and Dick Comes Again!

Stuart Saint is a prolific writer, director, choreographer and performer, currently Associate Artistic Director for Leicester Square Theatre, where his credits include: Sheila Simmonds: Christmas Cracker, The Music Hall Menagerie, Sheila Simmonds: Quest for the Golden Name Badge, De Profundis, The New Musical Project, Dick! Comes Again, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, Dick!, A Saintly Affair, Toxic Bankers, Buchwald & Friends, Boudoir Star and Sideshow.

Sleeping Booty! is presented by Martin Witts and Lesley Ackland for Leicester Square Theatre.

Tickets: Previews: £15; November 27 to December 3: £18; December 4 to January 17: £22. To book, call the box office on 08448 733433 or visit www.leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows.

Times: Vary.

For children, Leicester Square Theatre has Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre’s production of Stick Man (November 8, 2014 to January 4, 2015).