Christmas events in Hampstead and Highgate

Puppets, panto and parties in our area


IN BEASTS And Beauties, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy adapts eight gruesome fairy tales from across Europe.

Director Melly Still, whose highly visual and imaginative family shows include Coram Boy at the National Theatre and Grimm Tales at The Young Vic, has co-dramatised them with Tim Supple to create a magical otherworld of spine-tingling stories including The Emperor’s New Clothes, Bluebeard’s Castle and the tale of a goat who poos gold.

Some stories have happy ever afters, others don’t. Suitable for ages seven and up, it runs at Hampstead Theatre from December 10 to 31. Bookings on 020-7722 9301.

EAST Finchley-based Tall Stories theatre company first adapted Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s hit children’s book The Gruffalo back in 2001.

Their hugely popular production has since toured all over the world and returns to the West End this Christmas. The 55-minute show with songs – about a mouse who goes into a deep dark wood and encounters a crafty fox, an eccentric owl, a maraca-shaking snake and a terrifying Gruffalo – is perfect for pre-schoolers.

Most Read

It runs at The Garrick Theatre in Charing Cross Road from November 24 until January 16. Bookings on 08444124662.

PRE-SCHOOLERS will also go wild for Peppa Pig’s Party which runs for daytime performances at the Criterion Theatre from November 30 until January 2.

The show follows the everyday adventures of a playful pig who lives with her little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, playing games, making new friends and jumping in muddy puddles. The show with songs uses puppets to tell the story of Peppa’s birthday party with Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog and Emily Elephant. Bookings on 0844 8471778.

ROALD Dahl favourite George’s Marvellous Medicine is adapted by the Birmingham Stage Company and writer David Wood, who both have excellent track records in creating top-notch children’s theatre.

The magical romp tells the story of a young boy who makes a marvellous medicine to cure his grandmother’s terrifying temper. But the potion has an unexpected effect on his grumpy relative and the family farm animals. The show has original music and puppetry and is suitable for ages four and up. It runs at the Bloomsbury Theatre from December 7 until January 23. Box office on 020-7388 8822.

ANOTHER Birmingham Stage Company production this Christmas is cult favourite Bagpuss, the saggy old pink and white cat who’s a bit loose at the seams. Adapted by Jon Lloyd from the fondly remembered 1974 series, it uses storytelling, songs and different styles of puppetry to bring to life all the favourites from the magical shop of broken and lost possessions – the mice and their mice organ, Gabriel the toad, Madeleine the rag doll and Professor Yaffle.

It runs from December 9 until January 9 at Soho Theatre and is suitable for under sevens. Bookings on 020-7478 0100.

ISLINGTON-BASED comedians Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner are the energetic brains behind Potted Panto, which features seven of the nation’s favourite pantomimes simmered down into a madcap 80 minutes.

The duo, who appear regularly on CBBC, started out back in 2006 with Potted Potter – a gallop through JK Rowling’s wizard series which has run in Edinburgh and the West End. Aimed at both children and adults, Potted Panto careers through Cinderella in 3D with a fairy god-chicken, a Dick Whittington topically featuring a blonde, posh London Mayor who gets a mallet on the head and a custard pie in the face, and a new take on Sleeping Beauty with all seven dwarves played by Dan and Jeff.

Silliness, principal boys and cross-dressing dames abound at the Vaudeville on The Strand from December 9 until January 10. Booking on 08444 124663.

THE well-loved tale of a wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy and a puppet-maker who wants to be a real father will be told at The Roundhouse this Christmas.

Carpenter Geppetto carves Pinocchio on stage and uses objects from his workshop to tell a visually inventive tale where a brush becomes a fox and the shadow of two saws transform into a giant shark. Puppetry, shadows, illusion, verbal wit and music combine in this magical 60-minute show aimed at ages four and up.

Pinocchio runs at the Chalk Farm venue’s studio from November 22 until December 24.

Bookings on 0844 482 8008

PUPPETRY is inevitably centre stage at the Little Angel in Islington which this Christmas stages Lewis Carroll’s fantastical tale Alice In Wonderland.

The tiny puppet theatre has a great track record with previous enchanting and inventive shows including The Mouse Queen.

Designed and directed by Peter O’Rourke, the show retells the story of a young girl who follows a tardy white rabbit down a hole into a bewildering and magical world where she meets a Madhatter, a scary Queen of Hearts and a grinning Cheshire Cat.

Suitable for ages five upwards, it is written by Tim Kane with witty songs by Ben Glasstone and uses hand and shadow puppetry to tell Carroll’s story.

It runs from November 20 until January 30. Box Office 020-7226 1787.

LITTLE Angel’s acclaimed production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox is the Christmas highlight at Jacksons Lane theatre in Archway Road, Highgate.

Follow the cunning Mr Fox and his family as they fall foul of nasty Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The gun-toting farmers have shot off Mr Fox’s tail and dug up half the countryside to catch him, but little do they know their sworn enemy is tunnelling into their prize storehouses to steal their chickens.

It runs at Jacksons Lane from December 4-31. Tickets on 020-8341 4421.

THE Arts Depot in Finchley stages an original play set on Christmas Eve.

Catching Father Christmas tells the story of young Amy who waits up ready to pounce on red-suited Santa, only to find there are others in the house with the same idea.

Clothes, furniture and decorations spring to life as Amy realises she must save Father Christmas and get back to bed in time for the dawn of Christmas day. It runs from December 3 until January 2. Box office on 020-8369 5454

FOR traditional panto, head down to The Shaw Theatre in Euston Road where EastEnders actress Madeline Duggan is playing Snow White with what director Guy Pascall says are “the craziest seven dwarfs you’ve ever seen”.

Expect songs, dance routines, glitzy costumes, impressions and comedy routines as well as traditional call-outs – altogether now: “He’s behind you.”

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs runs from December 13 until January 3. Bookings on 0844 4771000.

The King’s Head Theatre in Islington is also staging panto with a twist in a new adaptation of Cinderella by Tony Britten, which runs at the Upper Street venue from December 21 until January 18. Bookings on 08444 771000.

AT Pentameters theatre above the Three Horsehoes pub in Heath Street Hampstead, Butterfly Wheels Theatre Company is staging a new adaption of The Nutcracker,which stays true to ETA Hoffman’s eerie, magical novella with films, song and dance. It runs from December 11 until January 6. Bookings on 020-7435 3648.

TWO years ago, Giant Olive Theatre Company staged an acclaimed and fresh reworking of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre in Kentish Town.

It returns this Christmas, once again directed by Camden resident and West End musical veteran Ray Shell. It runs from December 7 unti January 15. Bookings on 0844 771000.


IT MAY sound odd to run a show called Midsummer over Christmas – but David Greig’s “play with songs” is a touching, uplifting romantic comedy perfect for theatergoers looking for an alternative to the panto season.

A hit at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre in 2008 and 2009, it follows unlikely couple Helena and Bob through a lost summer weekend in the Scottish capital.

He’s a Dostoevsky-reading petty criminal, she’s a feisty divorce lawyer who drinks too much and is having an affair with a married man. Both are heading for midlife crises and yearn for more. They meet in an Edinburgh bar and have disastrous sex, their bittersweet love story is expressed through Gordon McIntyre’s wistful, wry songs.

It runs at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn until January 29. Bookings on 020-7328 1000.

AT UPSTAIRS At The Gatehouse, artistic director John Plews directs The Heather Brothers’ musical of teen dreams A Slice Of Saturday Night.

Packed with pastiche period songs, it is set in a provincial 60s nightclub and tells the story of ageing rocker club owner Eric and the loves and hopes of his young dancers at Club A Go-Go. It runs at the Highgate venue from December 16 until January 30.

Bookings on 020-8340 3488.

HAMPSTEAD’S New End Theatre is staging modern festive comedy It Had To Be You by Ren�e Taylor and Joseph Bologna.

The duo, who co-wrote the hit Broadway comedy Lovers And Other Strangers, set their play in New York on Christmas Eve where loveless jobless Theda Blau seizes her career chance when she meets top producer Vito Pignoli.

The show about love, hope and going for what you want in life runs from November 23 to December 24. Bookings on 0870 033 2733

AT SADLER’S Wells, choreographer Matthew Bourne revives and reworks his unique interpretation of Cinderella, which sets the well-loved fairytale in war torn London.

Danced to Prokofiev’s haunting score, a young girl meets a dashing RAF pilot but the couple are cruelly parted by the Blitz. Cinderella runs from November 30 to January 23. Booking on 0844 4124300.