Christmas Pantomimes are a great way to get into the spirit of Christmas, as they really embody everything the season is about – frivolity, joy, music and laughter. For the newbies to the world of Christmas pantomime – the idea is that they are common to this time of year, rather than “about” Christmas. Pantomimes are often humorous, slapstick-style performances including classic plots with dastardly twists, music of the loud and sing-along variety, audience-involvement in the form of booing and cheering, topical humour and side-splitting gags, dance and often – especially in London – some local famous faces. It dates as far back as the Middle Ages, with a few tweaks and special effects thrown in along the way.
Now, they are an annual, unmissable occurrence that a number of beloved London theatres take rather seriously, so here are the top three shows to see this year.
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The question of who has been eating your porridge is never a question at breakfast in Piccadilly London West End hotels, and it is ironically not a question either in this Christmas pantomime of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. While porridge may have been the biggest issue facing the three bears in the original story of the hungry (and thieving) Goldilocks, this production at the London Palladium sees Dame Betty Barnum and her daughter Goldilocks’ circus on the run from an evil circus owner, with a load of adventure, friends and foes along the way – and of course three fabulous bears.
People often dub London Palladium as the “home of pantomime”, so it is important that you head there yourself and see whether you will become one of those people. After the success of last year’s Snow White-inspired show, this year is coming in hotter than Daddy Bear’s porridge.
West End packages usually include things like theatre-orientated menus at Piccadilly restaurants in London, or hotel rooms at competitive prices in some of the West End’s most prestigious and lovely hotels. But at this time of year, the real package to shout about are the cast of this show, which is starring Palladium favourites Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot, as well as some famous names like BBC’s golden-boy Matt Baker, English actress Janine Duvitski and TV-personality and performer Paul O’Grady.
Dates: Saturday 7 December 2019 to Sunday 12 January 2020
Times: 2:30pm and 7:30pm shows available
Thursday 2 January 2020, 7:30pm – Signed, Interpreted Performance
Friday 3 January 2020, 7:30pm – Audio Described Performance
Address: 8 Argyll Street, Soho, London, W1F 7LA
Tickets available: https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/goldilocks/
1.Dick Whittington and his Cat
There will be traditional sets; the annually recurring pantomime figure of the Dame played for the 13th time by British actor Clive Row who won the Grande Dame Olivier Award; just the right amount of riotous slapstick and a hefty dollop of East-London humour. This is a rags-to-riches story, featuring – you guessed it – Dick Whittington and his cat. It features the West End’s Hamilton star Tarinn Callender, who has moved from Hercules Mulligan and James Madison to the one and only Dick Whittington. The east-end gem, Kat B, will be Uncle Vincent and Les Mis and Coronation Street’s Tony Whittle will be Alderman Fitzwarren, as well as a string of other local theatrical heroes.
Roll up, roll up, to Hackney Empire this Christmas-time to enjoy some of the finest pantomimes that London has to offer with a unique east end flare. Hackney Empire puts on a pantomime every Christmas, and they just keep churning out side-splitting pantos. If you are yet to be convinced, you may feel differently after checking out the buzz and hype online under the #HackneyPanto hashtag.
If Indian High Tea at your hotel is on your priority list, then worry not – the evening shows ensure both can be happily fit in, followed by a great night’s sleep Piccadilly London West End hotel’s dreamily soft bedspread.
Dates: Saturday 23 November 2019 – Sunday 5 January 2020
Times: 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 7:30pm shows available
Saturday 7 December, 2:30pm & 7pm – BSL interpreted, relaxed and dementia-friendly performance
Saturday 7 December, 7pm – BSL interpreted
Address: 291 Mare St, London E8 1EJ
Tickets available: https://hackneyempire.co.uk/whats-on/dick-whittington/
2. Aladdin: Everything You Could Wish For In A Panto
If you want to swap in the West End’s currently running Aladdin the Musical for something a little wackier, then Aladdin: Everything You Could Wish For In A Panto is just for you. Cruising into the pride of Bromley’s theatre scene is this fabulous pantomime starring the iconic English actor and television presenter Christopher Biggins as the only version of himself more iconic, Widow Twankey. Last year, the theatre saw a roaringly successful season of Cinderella for their panto, but this year they are trading in their pumpkin carriage for a magic carpet.
The Churchill Theatre always delivers on all the best parts of the classic pantomime formula, like opportunities to boo, aah and sing along to crowd-rousing song and dance. It features all the cornerstones of the Aladdin-story we all know and love – a magical genie, an evil sorcerer and a plot teeming with (mis)adventure.
Dates: Saturday 7 December 2019 – Sunday 5 January 2020
Times: 1pm, 1:30pm, 5pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm shows available
Thursday 12 December, 1:30pm – Captioned
Tuesday 17 December, 1:30pm – Relaxed
Monday 30 December, 5pm – Sign language interpreted performance
Saturday 4 January, 1pm – Audio described
Address: High St, Bromley BR1 1HA
Tickets available: https://churchilltheatre.co.uk/Online/bromley-pantomime-panto-kent
If there is one city you want to be in to enjoy the best of panto, it is London. If you can drag yourself from luxuriating in the Piccadilly West End hotel spa, then head to any of these shows across the city for some top-quality yuletide entertainment and be sure to get involved in the performance as much as you are comfortable doing – it is encouraged.