Where to watch live entertainment in north London this Christmas
- Credit: Archant
We round up the dedicated local venues putting on live theatre, concerts, puppet shows and cabaret around Hampstead Highgate and Islington over the festive period
Christmas entertainment is on. Oh yes it is, oh no it isn’t.
You could forgive live venues for throwing in the towel after all the tiers and fears of lockdown restrictions, but hard-pressed performers have been gamely rehearsing behind closed doors to bring us socially distanced entertainment over the festive period.
At Alexandra Palace, festivities include a Santa’s Grotto, Christmas movies, ice skating and performances of The Gruffalo’s Child.
Tall Stories’ adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picturebook has been doing the festive rounds for years, bringing enchanting storytelling and original songs to audiences aged 3 and up. Turning the tables on the clever rodent in
the original story, the Gruffalo’s young child heads into the snowy wood to search for the Big Bad mouse. (Alexandra Palace Theatre December 5 to Jan 3 www.alexandrapalace.com/theatre.)
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Based in Islington Central Library, the company has past experience bringing Donaldson’s stories to the stage, including The Snail and The Whale and Room on the Broom. Co-Artistic Director Olivia Jacobs says: “It’s been a really tough year, so we’re thrilled to have found a safe and beautiful home for the show and to be able to bring some joy, fun and laughter to families over the festive period.”
Decorated with festive lights and trees, the Palaces’s East Court has a Grotto maintaining a safe distance between Santa and his helpers, and the theatre - operating at a reduced 500 capacity to maintain social distancing - is hosting festive screenings of Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, Santa Claus the Movie and Die Hard.
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Martin Keane director of marketing and communications said: “We were put here to entertain the public and it’s not in our nature to sit back and do nothing especially at Christmas.
“As much as possible we have stayed open to give live entertainment with comedy on our terrace and Live at Ally Pally events. Now we have the ice rink operating, a grotto and a family show from a children’s company that really know what they are doing.”
At The Cockpit in Gateforth Street, Marylebone there is the family show Christmas is Ruined! and musical revue A Perfect Christmas devised by Highgate’s own Tim McArthur, who promises “the magic of a traditional Christmas, with carols, songs, poems and all sorts of holly jolly fun!” (December 7-24 www.thecockpit.org.uk)
Kathryn Gardner’s Christmas Is Ruined! (December 6 – 24) - also be available as a filmed version - tells the story Bo who has just had the horrible news that there won’t be many presents this year. The audience journeys through well known songs, theatrical magic and memorable characters to find out whether the festive season has indeed been spoiled.
At the Puppet Barge in Little Venice, String Theatre stages The Crow’s Tale.
The snowy seasonal story of a kind and courageous bird with colourful feathers who flies to the sun to save the world from endless winter is inspired by a Native American legend and based on a book by Naomi Howarth.
Using string marionettes and a soundtrack of original music by Josh Middleton, it promises heartwarming storytelling for adults and children at the 50 seat barge on Blomfield Road. (December 5 to Jan 30 www.puppetbarge.com).
Upstairs at The Gatehouse in Highgate has pared down it’s annual musical extravaganza to stage Stuart Ross’ Forever Plaid (December 16 to January 24 www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com) A family affair it’s directed by artistic director John Plews choreographed by daughter Racky and produced by wife Katie and celebrates the sincerity and innocence of the vocal groups who harmonised their way across the airwaves and jukeboxes of the USA in the rock n roll era. Four guys meet in high school in the 50s and discover a shared love for singing and entertaining - finally landing their first big gig at the Airport Hilton Cocktail Bar in 1964.
At the Almeida in Islington, Nine Lessons and Carols ‘Stories for a Long Winter’ is a 90 minute devised piece about “connection and isolation and lighting a candle to see us through the longest night”. A collaboration between six cast members playwright Chris Bush and director Rebecca Frecknall, it runs December 3 until Jan 9 almeida.co.uk.
In their reconfigured auditorium The Pleasance Islington (December 5-22) hosts a rosta of adult cabaret comedy and Queer Christmas treats, including The Bitten Peach, Pecs Christmas Queer, Ginger Johnson’s Christmas egg, and The Cocoa Butter Club. (pleasance.co.uk) while up the road at The King’s Head panto regulars Charles Court Opera have written their own online interactive show Snow White in The Seven Months of Lockdown. (December 14-31 kingsheadtheatre.com)
Highgate’s Lauderdale House hosts a socially distanced concert Mr Beethoven’s Christmas Carol in the Lower Gallery courtesy of resident opera ensemble Insieme. Grumpy that his special anniversary year has been taken over by a world-wide pandemic, Mr Beethoven invites you to hear some of his music as well as vocal and instrumental pieces by his favourite composers Haydn, Mozart, and Strauss. Join Insieme’s full company for seasonal carols on December 6. lauderdalehouse.org.uk.
At the Arts Depot in Finchley playful, lighthearted Breaking the Ice is inspired by the true story of an unlikely friendship between a husky and a wild polar bear.
Take a snowy journey to the Arctic with Filskit Theatre in a non verbal show featuring traditional Sami music, shadows, puppetry, animation, physical theatre and projection.
(December 19-31 artsdepot.co.uk)