If Eastlondonlines hasn’t managed to get you all into the Christmas spirit with our run-down of the best events, places to buy trees, and markets for your gift shopping, then don’t fear: here is our list of pantos in the boroughs.
Celebs, drama, cross-dressing and family fun – this is the festive traditional that has a little something for everyone. So make the most and grab yourself a ticket…
Dick Whittington & His Cat comes to the beautiful setting of the Hackney Empire in their critically acclaimed annual pantomime. Running until January 6 and with tickets starting at £10, it’s a solid choice for anyone wanting a high-quality, low-cheese affair that’s ‘celeb’-free. If you’re less familiar with the plot, Dick Whittington is the ultimate rags-to-riches tale of one man and his feline friend. Hackney’s panto stalwart and long-time dame Clive Rowe is not appearing this year (he’s in Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic), but Susie McKenna’s 14-year tenure has turned the Empire into London’s ultimate pantomime destination.
If panto really isn’t your thing then head to Wilton’s Music Hall, where it’s most definitely Christmas but without a dame or a cow in sight. Until the 22nd, Wilton’s are hosting an installation of beautiful mechanical wonders that pay homage to the frenzy and excitement of the festive period. Christmas cheer without the ‘he’s behind you!’.
Catford’s Broadway Theatre celebrates its 80th birthday this year, and ushers in firm panto favourite Cinderella as their Christmas show. Children’s television legend Floella Benjamin takes the role of quintessential pantomime do-gooder the Fairy Godmother. CBBC presenter, long-serving Byker Grove actor and sometime Dr. Who cast member Andrew Hayden-Smith plays Buttons, so between him and Floella there’s someone all generations will recognise. Disney cemented the Cinderella tale in the popular imagination, but with characters you love to hate such as the Wicked Stepmother and the Ugly Sisters, it’s easy to see why it’s perfect pantomime fodder.
The Fairfield Halls’ Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon plays host to Jack & the Beanstalk. The story of the boy whose mother throws his magic beans out the window, causing a gigantic beanstalk to spring up skywards where he can steal a fortune from giants. With a cast boasting former EastEnder Laila Morse (Big Mo) and CBBC presenter Sid Sloane, as well as a ‘breakdancing pantomime cow’, it looks certain to entertain. There’s even a real giant in the form of Europe’s tallest man, Neil Fingleton – no prizes for guessing who he’ll be playing. Runs until January 6.