Festive family round up: Bear hunt, Snow White and Anything Goes

We're going on a bear hunt

We're going on a bear hunt - Credit: Archant

BRIDGET GALTON rounds up the best of family entertainment in north London this festive season

Two versions of Michael Rosen’s picturebook We’re Going on a Bear Hunt are among a wealth of family entertainment across north London this Christmas.

Jackson’s Lane in Highgate hosts The Little Angel Theatre’s enchanting puppet version of the tale of a family who embark on an intrepid adventure to find a bear. Peter Glanville’s production echoes Helen Oxenbury’s original illustrations and features music and lyrics by Barb Jungr. (December 6-24 jacksonslane.org.uk)

At North Finchley’s Arts Depot is the highly interactive live stage version where grass, snow storm, river, mud, forest and cave are inventively conjured by everyday props. There are plenty of songs assisted by the family’s musical dog. (December 7-January 2 artsdepot.co.uk)

At the same venue Oily Cart’s interactive In A Pickle is an immersive show for 3-5-year-olds loosely based on The Winter’s Tale and promises a gentle introduction to Shakespeare with storytelling dressing up, hands on involvement and dance. Join in with the sheep shearers as they find a lost baby and follow clues across the salty sea to the royal court to find a happy ending.

Originally commissioned by the RSC it runs December 13-31.

Entertainment for the whole family is on offer Upstairs at the Gatehouse’s where the annual musical extravaganza is Cole Porter’s nautical classic Anything Goes. The book by Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse invites audiences aboard a transatlantic ocean liner and features Porter favourites You’re The Top, I Get A Kick Out Of You, Blow Gabriel Blow and Let’s Misbehave. Steered by resident director John Plews this staple of Highgate’s seasonal entertainment runs December 14-January 29. (upstairsatthegatehouse.com)

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A hit New York production of CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters arrives at The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park and promises a “wicked and witty” end to the theatrical year. Set in an office where God is ‘the enemy’ and the devil ‘our father below’ this inverted satire on spiritual welfare was written by Lewis after hearing one of Hitler’s speeches and realising how seductive the dicator could be. It follows the fortunes of Satan’s psychiatrist and a demon learning how to damn an unsuspecting soul on earth. (December 8-January 7 parktheatre.co.uk)

Down in Euston the Shaw Theatre offers its annual traditional panto. This year Enchanted Entertainment’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs features CBBC’s Darragh Mortell from Tracy Beaker as The Prince, and Britain’s Got Talent impressionist Andrew Fleming as Muddles the Jester.

The production includes Heigh-Ho and Whistle While You Work from the Disney movie alongside plentiful pop songs lots of shout outs, eyecatching costumes and a sprinkling of panto magic. (December 13 until Jan3 Box Office 0844 248 5075 shaw-theatre.com)

Meanwhile the Little Angel’s Islington base hosts a touching 40 minute show about a tiny penguin who gets spun around by the sight of the stars and glistening snow.

Suitable for 2-6-year-olds, Me is based on a story by Emma Dodd and is about a parent and their love for a child. (December 8-Jan 29) Or from December 4-24 Santa’s Little Workshop offers crafty festive fun and stories for 2-8 year olds. Based on Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas, audiences get involved with festive puppet making and meet the Little Angel’s puppet Santa.

Further afield there’s more panto with Hackney Empire’s barnstorming seasonal entertainment Sleeping Beauty. It stars Gavin Spokes as Dame Nanny Nora who shepherds feisty Princess Tahlia through the dangers posed by Sharon D Clarke’s Carabosse the wicked witch.

“I always thought if I’m going to do pantomime I would love to do Hackney because they are modern, inclusive and brilliant but still have all the traditions,” says the actor.

“The tradition of the dame is so set it would be bizarre to get rid of her now. She’s a warm loving character, a celebration of how brilliant women are, the gag is the man is trying to be the woman inside the dress.”

“Hackney really make their pantos their own and understand that the final character of a panto is the audience.” (Sleeping Beauty runs November 26-January 8)

Meanwhile Katie Mitchell’s acclaimed adaptation of The Cat in the Hat returns to The Pleasance in Islington this Christmas from December 6 until January 2.

Fresh from enchanting the Edinburgh Fringe, it delivers the visual aesthetic and joyful quirkiness of Dr Seuss’s book about a home alone brother and sister beset by a mischievous cat. (Pleasance.co.uk ) Finally, Sadler’s Wells takes up its annual residence at The Peacock in Holborn with enchanting children’s ballet The Snowman featuring a spinetingling flight to the North Pole to meet Santa to the strains of Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air. (November 23 to January 1 sadlerswells.com)