Traditionally, for many London theatregoers, the Christmas season doesn’t start until they’ve been to the Panto: that irreverent retelling of a beloved fairy story with the cross-dressing dame and the interpolated pop music production numbers. The 2009-2010 West End theatre season sees a wide range of variations in its musical Christmas shows, from Dickens to drag and break dancing to ballet.
A Charles Dickens Christmas
Of course there’s something for Dickens fans, with a twist (appropriately enough). From November 11 to January 10, a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol adapted by Susie McKenna and with music by Steve Edis plays at the Arts Theatre. In this version, an uncle and nephew find themselves expected to perform the beloved Christmas play before a live audience with only the assistance of an odd assortment of theatre residents – human and animal.
Mother Goose Meets Hip Hop
Dance company Zoo Nation’s Into the Hoods is a street-dance riff on Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Into the Woods featuring such denizens of Ruff Endz Estate as Spinderella, Lil Red, Rap-on-zel and Wolf the record producer. A hit at the Edinburgh Finge, it plays the Queen Elizabeth Hall from December 16 to January 10.
At the Barbican Theatre, Boy Blue Entertainment performs the Olivier Award-winning Pied Piper – A Hip-hop Dance Revolution, inspired by Robert Browning’s Pied Piper of Hamelin, with music by Michael Asante, AKA MikeyJ. It runs from December 10 to January 3.
The Adelphi Theatre offers Christmas with the Rat Pack from November 24 to January 10, for those whose idea of Christmas cheer necessarily includes a martini and some lounge music.
From November 20 to January 17, La Clique plays at the Roundhouse. It’s a cabaret-style variety show featuring new burlesque and circus acts.
Cross-dressing Holiday Shows
Sinderfella by Simon Gross is a comic, punning drag reinterpretation of everyone’s favourite fairy tale. It plays the Leicester Square Theatre Basement from December 10 to January 3.
On quite a different note, Sadler’s Wells presents Matthew Bourne’s all-male version of the classic ballet Swan Lake, which premiered in 1995 and went on to a sold-out run on Broadway. It runs from December 10 to January 24.