Top 10 theatre openings in London this December
It’s December, and congrats, you’ve very nearly made it through 2017. While it may be a memorable one for all the wrong reasons in many respects, it’s been a blinder of a year when it comes to theatre in London, and shows no sign of stopping as the year draws to a close. We’ve rounded up the biggest and best shows opening in the capital this month, and thrown in a few festive productions for good measure.
Panto made its grand return to the London Palladium after almost three decades last year with a star-studded production of Cinderella. This year, it’s back with Dick Whittington taking to the stage. This enchanting show will star musical legend Elaine Paige as Queen Rat, Julian Clary as Spirit of the Bells, and also reunites Emma Williams and Charlie Stemp following their success in Half a Sixpence. Look out, too, for special appearances from Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity.
Dick Whittington Tickets are available now.
November proved that The New British Musical is alive and well with the huge reception Everybody’s Talking About Jamie received following its transfer from Sheffield. We’re fully expecting a similar case when The Grinning Man makes the trip to the capital from Bristol Old Vic. With a brilliant original score by Tim Philips and Marc Teitler, The Grinning Man is based on Victor Hugo’s story about circus freak Grinpayne and his disfigured face. It stars Louis Maskell in the lead role of the production, which involves some inventive puppetry from the people who gave us War Horse. We’ve also heard stories of audience members in Bristol enjoying the show so much, they returned in full costume for their second (or third… or fourth…) visit. This is bound to put a smile on your face.
The Grinning Man Tickets are available now.
Performed at The Site at the Royal Court, Julia Jarcho’s award-winning play is set in a nameless average American city. It follows two strangers selling Christmas trees, two police officers working on solving the case of a killing spree, and a young woman who finds herself ‘transforming in ways she could never have imagined’. The piece is a collaboration between designer Chloe Lamford and director Sam Pritchard.
The Christmasaurus combines every child’s two favourite things: Christmas and dinosaurs. Okay, maybe not every child, but certainly McFly frontman Tom Fletcher, who wrote the best-selling Christmas book last year. Now, he’s written a score of catchy tunes and transformed his magical story about the Christmas Eve adventure of the young William Trundle into a musical for the stage. Not only that, but he’ll be starring in the show alongside his wife Giovanna, sister Carrie Hope Fletcher, bandmates Matt Willis and Harry Judd, as well as the biggest star of them all: Santa Claus.
The Christmasaurus Tickets are available now.
Playwright Amy Herzog has been described as ‘one of the brightest talents in the theater’ by the New York Times, and now, her award-winning play Belleville comes to the UK. Starring James Norton (Happy Valley) and Imogen Poots (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), it tells the story of Zack and Abby, an American couple living in the bohemian Belleville area of Paris. They prepare for Christmas together, but their perfect life probably won’t last. Poots and Norton are joined by Faith Alabi and Malachi Kirby, and will be directed by Michael Longhurst (all five making their Donmar debuts).
There will always be space for another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the West End, and now, The Woman in White gets its first London revival in over a decade. The show is based on the novel by Wilkie Collins, and follows drawing teacher Walter Hartright on a midnight train trip on which he sees mysterious female figure dressed solely in white. This production will be far more intimate at the Charing Cross Theatre than it was at the enormous Palace Theatre (where it ran for nineteen months from 2004), which will certainly add to the mysterious atmosphere of musical. Thom Southerland’s production stars Anna O’Byrne (The Phantom of the Opera), Chris Peluso (Miss Saigon) and Carolyn Maitland (Ghost).
The Woman in White Tickets are available now.
Based on the 2009 film starring Martin Freeman, a new musical version of Nativity! comes to the London stage this Christmas. The story follows Paul Maddens, a primary school teacher who had big dreams of Hollywood. Every year, his class competes against the neighbouring school to produce the best nativity play. The musical will feature West End actors Daniel Boys (Avenue Q) and Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages) as well as a very special appearance from The X Factor’s Louis Walsh, who plays a Hollywood producer. Walsh’s stage debut is probably enough of a reason alone to see this one.
Nativity! Tickets are available now.
It’s been a very busy year for director John Tiffany; after winning a bucketload of awards for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (and preparing for its Broadway transfer), he took on Jim Cartwight’s Road at the Royal Court, and now he’s stamping his mark on this classic story about wood-carver Geppetto and his puppet that came to life. The 1940 Walt Disney film provided a classic soundtrack with songs such as “When You Wish Upon a Star”, “I’ve Got No Strings” and “Give a Little Whistle”. This stage production at the National Theatre will include songs and the score from the film, as well as some enchanting stage magic from the Potter director, and what’s sure to be a brilliant script from Matilda writer Dennis Kelly.
The Twilight Zone was a creepy American anthology series that fused suspenseful psychological thrillers with fantasy and sci-fi – think Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, but in the late 1950s. It’s the first time Rod Sterling’s show has been adapted for the stage, and details regarding the story are relatively sketchy at the moment; we aren’t sure which episode, if any, the play will be based or take inspiration from. But, it is adapted by Anne Washburn (Mr Burns) and directed by Olivier Award-winner Richard Jones, as well as stage magic from illusionist and psychologist Richard Wiseman.
We waited for it, and now it’s here. It’s happening. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenon Hamilton rocks up in London, at the newly refurbished Victoria Palace. West End newcomer Jamael Westman will be giving it his best shot in the lead role of Alexander Hamilton, joined by Giles Terera, Michael Jibson, Rachelle Ann Go, Rachel John, Obioma Ugoala, Cleve September, and Peggy… played by Christine Allado. Tickets sold out fast, but there will be opportunities to win tickets via daily and weekly lotteries throughout the run. Will you be in the room where it happens?