‘He’s behind you!’ Love them or hate them, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a panto, and London has plenty to pick from. Whether you’re after a family friendly fairytale, a star-studded affair, a rip-roaring drag queen spectacle or the hipster alternative pantomime, The Resident rounds up this year’s best…
1 Peter Pan, Churchill Theatre
Bromley’s Churchill Theatre is bringing our old-school favourite back to life with this tale of pirates and lost boys. After writing, directing and choreographing Sister Act at the New Wimbledon Theatre, the Strictly Come Dancing judge, Craig Revel Horwood will turn his hand at acting, playing the delightfully evil pirate Captain Hook from Friday 9 December up until Saturday January 7. We all love to hate him as a judge on Strictly, making him the perfect panto villain this Christmas.
High Street, Bromley BR1 1HA; churchilltheatre.co.uk
2 Down the Rabbit Hole, Selfridges Basement
Sink the Pink are coming to the basement of Selfridges to make Christmas as fabulous and camp as ever with their new show Down the Rabbit Hole. It’s set in an enchanted forest full of drag queens dressed as mystical monsters and naughty nymphs. The villain of the piece, The Fat Cat, wants to turn their Rabbit Hole Club into luxury flats, not so subtly mimicking London’s club scene crisis. The loveable heroine is Lady Bunny – played by writer and director, Ginger Johnson – who is battling to save her club and family home. Regular panto favourites such as Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and the Big Bad Wolf all join in the fight wearing stilettos and as much glitter as you can imagine. The brilliantly bizarre show is strictly for adults. Tickets £15.
400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB; sinkthepink.co.uk
3 Sleeping Beauty, Hackney Empire
In true Hackney Empire style, this pantomime brings West End values at East End prices. Guests are welcome to enter their Hackneytopia from 1 December, a land of mystical creatures and dangerous villains, where a princess was born. Follow her journey throughout the enchanted forest and beyond, meeting colourful characters who will entertain with comedy for adults and children as well as musical routines and magic. They’ve thrown just about everything into this playful panto.
Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street E8 1EJ; hackneyempire.co.uk
4 Aladdin, the Lyric
The modern take on the Disney favourite, Aladdin, is hysterically witty and playful. The subtle rich against poor message in the original Aladdin is taken to new heights as the Sultan represents the top one per cent, living in his Peckham palace which, not so subtly, resembles south London’s new gated communities where the sign reads ‘No Poors Allowed’. These changes may fly above the heads of the very little ones but the quirky slapstick humour and over-the-top antics will be enough to keep them giggling throughout. And if the ingenious storyline and silly comedy doesn’t get you then the fun rock and pop ballads certainly will. The show is running until 7 January with ticket prices starting at £15.
One Lyric Square, King Street, Hammersmith W6 0QL; lyric.co.uk
5 Peter Pan, Greenwich Theatre
Booing at this year’s pantomime at Greenwich Theatre will reach new levels with the return of everyone’s favourite villain Anthony Spargo as Captain Hook in Peter Pan: A New Adventure. The Dame – from a piratical family but now a tea lady at the docks – is the marvellous Andrew Pollard, making it twelve Greenwich pantomimes he’s written, five he’s directed and eleven in the outrageous costumes that light up the whole auditorium. The elements that people know and love from the classic tale of Peter Pan are still there but a few fun changes have been made to keep you guessing. Book tickets from now until 8 January to see what all the fuss is about.
Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8ES; greenwichtheatre.org.uk
6 Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves, Theatre503
This alternative family panto is an all-too silly mixture of two seasonal favourites. The comedy trio Sleeping Trees will play all the parts in their pared-down pantomime adventure, making it just that bit more entertaining. They explore what happens when the Ghost of Christmas Past accidentally takes Scrooge too far back in time, to the time of magic, fairytales and dwarves.
The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road SW11 3BW; theatre503.com
7 Mother Goose, Wilton’s Music Hall
Wilton’s is wrapping up the season in true style with the Mother of all pantos – Mother Goose. The same creative team behind last year’s super successful show, Dick Whittington, are back to give audiences a real festive treat with their take on this classic tale, specially adapted for Wilton’s by none other than Roy Hudd, who steps into the Dame’s shoes once more. Head down from 2-31 December to enjoy their annual pantomime and try out their other festive activities for families such as the Wilton’s Young Writers Group and toddler singing workshops running throughout the month.
1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel E1 8JB; wiltons.org.uk
8 Little Red Riding Hood, Hoxton Hall
Hoxton Hall’s newly refurbished Victorian musical hall is playing host, this Christmas, to a more traditional panto. Its take on ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ features a brand new, song-filled script to please all fans of the classic story. The cosy venue brings a refreshing intimacy to pantomimes that the larger, more established venues just can’t achieve.
130 Hoxton Street, London N1 6SH; hoxtonhall.co.uk
9 Dick Whittington, New Wimbledon Theatre
Although it has tamed things down a bit, the New Wimbledon pantomime remains one of the noisiest, brashest, sequin-studded seasonal shows in London. This year’s festive spectacular is ‘Dick Whittington’, a fitting approach for the story of a boy and his cat who wish for the streets of London to be paved with gold. If previous years are anything to go by, it should offer all the trimmings of a high budget spectacle, sparkly scenery, and ear-splittingly loud pop song routines.
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1QG; atgtickets.com
10 Pinocchio, King’s Head Theatre
Not all pantos need to be glamorous and beautiful. At least that’s what the Charles Court Opera’s 10th ’boutique’ pantomime is telling us. They’ve created a stripped-back version of the little boy who’s carved from wood. It’ll be built on a pub theatre-ready scale, in a puppet-filled festive family treat. Some of the best things in life are also the simplest.
15 Upper Street, Angel N1 1QN;kingsheadtheatre.com
11 The Adventures of Dick, Leicester Square Theatre
For the fifth year in a row, Stuart Saint unveils a lewd adult panto that’s all about Dick Whittington’s adventures in S’Hoho. Dick and his, um, kitty, Dave are simply minding their own business when they discover that the evil Queen Runt is raising all the rent in a bid to take over London and decide to do something about it. Drag queen Dusty O will lead the festivities, in an alternative Christmas pantomime that’s definitely not for the kids.
6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX; leicestersquaretheatre.com
12 Cinderella, London Palladium
The first pantomime to grace the stage of the London Palladium in nearly 30 years, is the ladette to lady ‘Cinderella’. Natasha J Barnes is the lead with Paul O’Grady playing the Wicked Stepmother, Amanda Holden as the ever-frivolous Fairy Godmother and Lee Mead making a standout performance as the dreamy Prince Charming. The ensemble has definitely got the air of a variety show line-up to it, which is exactly what makes this show so special
8 Argyll Street, Soho, London W1F 7TE; cinderellapalladium.com
13 Cinderella, Chiswick House
A new state-of-the-art pop-up theatre company is standing firmly apart from typical pantomimes this year, creating an unforgettable family spectacle of Cinderella, staged in the beautiful Walled Gardens at Chiswick House. Running from 16-31 December, the immersive show will include twists on the classic featuring illusionists, an acrobatic lizard and a live orchestra.