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Roll up, roll up! It wouldn’t be Christmas without a family panto – and this year’s crop are crackers… Oh, yes they are!
There aren’t many shows that you could take a 7-year-old and a 70-year-old to but Christmas pantomimes tickle everyone’s fancy – in all the right places! Here’s our pick of the season’s best Christmas pantomimes.
Up and down the UK, theatres are fizzing with celebrities, music, dance, cross-dressing and plenty of slapstick fun.
Audience participation is a must – from booing the villains to treading the boards, so let your hair down and have a rollicking good time.
Dick Whittington, London
Hackney Empire’s panto is hugely popular with Londoners and this year’s offering, Dick Whittington and His Cat (23 November– 5 January), promises its trademark magic and spectacle. Grande Dame Clive Rowe is Sarah the Cook in a sparkling reimagining of the classic rags-to-riches tale. The twist in this tale is that it kicks off in Jamaica as young Dick boards the Empire Windrush to see if London’s streets really are paved with gold.
GTK culture editor Sharon Sweeney was lucky enough to see Dick Whittington, and reported afterwards: ‘Bravo Hackney Empire – this truly diverse panto packs in political quips as quick as you can say ‘ave a banana. The costumes, sets and dance routines were wonderful, it’s packed with hackneyed (geddit) jokes and had the whole audience on its feet grooving to a mash-up of Kool & the Gang’s Celebration and Bob Marley’s One Love. Treat yourself! ‘
Pinocchio on Ice, London
Another London landmark is hosting a panto with a twist – Pinocchio on Ice will be performed on the Alexandra Palace ice rink (13-16 December). In a magical retelling of the classic fairy tale, there’ll be talented skaters from adults to tiny tots and lots of new and familiar characters. We’re excited about this dazzling Christmas pantomime starring Emma Moore, formerly as Matilda in the West End. Book now because there are only six shows.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, London
London’s iconic London Palladium is hosting one of the best Christmas pantomimes – the magical Goldilocks and the Three Bears from the 7th December. In a retelling of the traditional storybook, there’ll be riotous comedy routines, extraordinary special effects, hair-raising stunts, and international circus acts. Book now because it’s only showing for five weeks.
Say Yes to the Dress’ Lancashire favourite Gok Wan is putting on his shiniest panto shoes for a production of Cinderella at the Cardiff New Theatre (7 December-12 January). Expect laugh-out-loud comedy, jaw-dropping special effects, stunning song and dance and plenty of audience participation.
Aladdin, one of the best pantomimes returns to Cambridge this Christmas. Expect singalongs, dance routines, dazzling costumes and laugh-out-loud jokes. Starring Wayne Sleep, Liza Goddard and Matt Crosby.
Cambridge Arts Theatre’s is hosting a one of our favourite Christmas pantomimes, with the magical tale of Cinderella from 28 November 2019 – 11 January 2020.This tale is packed with family sing-along songs, colourful costumes and hilarious jokes. The star-studded cast includes legendary ballet dancer and TV personality Wayne Sleep, Liza Goddard and Matt Crosby.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Manchester
Who could resist a queen as wicked as Craig Revel Horwood? Here’s your chance to see the Strictly judge brilliantly cast in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Opera House Manchester (6-29 December).
Presented by the world’s biggest panto producer Qdos Entertainment, this also stars Ben Nickless, whose last outing as Buttons in Cinderella won Best Comic at the Great British Pantomime Awards. Boos and hisses at the ready…we’re predicting a hit show!
Peter Pan, Liverpool
Take a fairytale flight to Neverland – Peter Pan is at the Liverpool Empire Theatre (7-29 Dec). Benidorm stars Tony Maudsley (Kenneth the Cabin Boy) and Asa Elliott (Tiger Billy), will be joined by much-loved Liverpool TV and stage actor Louis Emerick (Captain Hook) and X Factor finalist Niki Evans providing the glamour as The Magical Mermaid.
There will be jaw-dropping special effects, barrel-loads of laughter, a ship-full of magic and fairy dust and festive fun making it one of the best Christmas pantomimes to see this season.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Torquay
Mirror mirror on the wall…Snow White is also on at the Princess Theatre in Torquay (13 Dec-5 Jan), with Hollyoaks Marcus Patrick s Huntsman Goodheart and Devon’s very own Luke Friend (X Factor) as Prince Valentine.
Dave Betts Photography
Dick Whittington, Bristol
Dick Whittington appears again, this time played by soap legend Shane Richie, as he seeks fame, fortune and happiness battling Queen Rat (Jennie Dale, Captain Captain from CBeebies Swashbuckle) and her rodent hoards to become Mayor of London and win the day.
Featuring dazzling sets and costumes from The London Palladium production, this runs from 7 Dec-5 Jan.
I’m a Celebrity and Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffat will be heading the cast in Cinderella at the Sunderland Empire (13 Dec-5 Jan). A much-loved local lass, she’ll be stepping into the magical role of the Fairy Godmother.
Alongside her will be the Queen of North East comedy Miss Rory (aka Dan Cunningham) as the feisty Rorina Hardup (who will be watching her ps and qs appaz) and Tom Whalley as Buttons. Expect laughs aplenty in one of the most hilarious Christmas pantomimes.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Birmingham
We can’t wait for this year’s unmissable Christmas pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs showing at Birmingham Hippodrome (21 December 2019 – 2 February 2020). It seems to be a favourite this year. Starring X Factor winner Joe McElderry, Coronation Street’s Faye Brookes as Snow White, and joined by Britain’s Got Talent finalists Flawless.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Edinburgh
Roll up, roll up! Popular stalwarts of panto – Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott (AKA Baron von Vinkelbottom) – are reunited in Goldilocks and The Three Bears at the King’s Theatre (30 November-19 Jan).
Joining them this year in his first King’s Panto is River City’s Jordan Young, with Goldilocks played by Gillian Parkhouse (currently appearing on-screen in Judy). Goldilocks and the Three Bears will blend the worlds of circus and Christmas pantomime featuring magic, music, mayhem and plenty of porridge.