London and Brighton are both in Tier 2 and therefore theatre doors can open . It’s less certain about music venues and further clarification is being sought .
But the good news is there’s quite a bit to enjoy if not in person then online and even in the cinema. In this the first of two larder specials, I’ll give details of what to see , where and when.
On the panto front the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has Pricked – a queer twist on Sleeping Beauty running from 4 December till 7 January; almost next door Above The Stag has Dick Whittington – a New Dick In Town in its main house 3 December till 28 February , so plenty of time to see that. More info at www.vauxhalltavern.com and abovethestag.org.uk
The National Theatre also airs its Dick from 11 December to 23 January. And if you are a panto glutton there’s Potted Panto – 7 different shows in 70 minutes at the Garrick Theatre from 5 December to 10 January. ( nimaxtheatres.com ) Pantoland at the London Palladium ( Dec 12 – 3 January) , stars Julian Clary and Elaine Page and is almost sold out – oh yes it is ! – details: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk and lwtheatres.co.uk
Ex Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan has filmed his own panto Jack and the Beanstalk in his back garden and it is available at Everyman and Showcase cinemas and also on line from 4 December. Snow White in The 7 Months of Lockdown is online from December 14 – 31, staged by Charles Court Opera. – panto online.co.uk and charlescourt opera.com
Saving Christmas is an amazingly novel idea – a do-it-yourself panto from the British Youth Music Theatre and director Steven Dexter, who’s recently been packing them in for his shows at the Eagle Garden Theatre in Vauxhall. Basically you get a script, a score and guide vocals and a narrative track – provided by singer Luke Bayer and actor Simon Callow , and then you make up your own production ! – britishyouthmusictheatre.org/shows
Phoenix Arts Club in Charing Cross Road, London is staging its first panto – Alice in Streamingland , which sees Alice follow the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole into several worlds including iPlayerland . It’s written by Colin Savage , who plays the wicked Queen of Hearts and features ex-Phantom principal Matt Bateman as the Rabbit. It runs from 5 December till 3 January – phoenixartsclub.com
Nearer home Pinocchio is staged at the Festival Theatre, Chichester by its youth theatre, December 16 to 2 January – cft.org.uk
In Brighton The Spire is staging its enthralling version of A Christmas Carol, which I saw a couple of years ago and which is truly amazing. It’s on December 16 – 24 – thespirearts.org
There are at least 2 other Christmas Carols on stage this year – Brian Conley stars in a lavish musical version at London’s Dominion from 7 December to 2 January; and Andrew Lincoln stars in a version at the Old Vic from 12 to 24 December – Nederlander.co.uk and oldvictheatre.com
And finally Brighton-based director/choreographer Carole Todd has two shows on the go – she’s directing Cinderella at the Theatre Royal Windsor from 3 December to 10 January, featuring Basil Brush and the magical Debbie McGee and Carole is also choreographing Dick Whittington at Above The Stag Theatre, Vauxhall ( see above ) – theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk
If you want a non-Christmas package of campery then Death Drop is for you, starring drag kings and queens you’ll recognise, it’s a musical take on an Agatha Christie murder mystery but with sequins and lashes. It’s at the Garrick Theatre from December 4 – 17 January – nimaxtheatres.com
All shows may be affected by the review of tier areas on 16 December so check with the venues.
Tv schedules are still coming out but one must is a re-run of the marvellously quirky Dickensian, created by Eastenders writer Tony Jordan, in which many of Dickens’ characters find their separate stories colliding . It’s sad and funny and available on BBC iplayer from 3 December. It’s worth binge watching all 20 episodes over wine and cheese.
Next time in the larder – my pick of LGBTQ+ books and films for Christmas presents . And my take on a Christmas menu and an alternative .