It’s that time of year again. Oh yes it is! So with a slap of the thigh and a sprinkle of fairy dust, whatsonstage.com/Northwest offers its annual run-down of Christmas show highlights. This year sees a bumper crop of celebrities and panto veterans donning their tights and wigs in the name of festive fun, with Tina O'Brien, Pamela Anderson and Rowetta Satchell among them.

And for those looking for slightly more high-brow Christmas entertainment there’s no shortage of options over the coming weeks, from the Royal Exchange Theatre's Zack through to The Library Theatre's A Christmas Carol. 


Pick of the pantos

This year is all about panto comebacks. Foremost among them, pneumatic former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, who played the Genie of the Lamp in Aladdin at the New Wimbledon Theatre last year, is reprising the role (for First Family Entertainment) at the Liverpool Empire. The blonde Hollywood pin-up said recently she was “thrilled” to be making her panto return, and “very excited” about spending time in Liverpool - having been recommended the city by none other than Henry Winkler (aka The Fonz), who played opposite her as Captain Hook last year. This year her co-stars include Les Dennis as Wishee Washee.

Tina O'Brien stars as the heroine in the Manchester Opera House production of Snow White and former X Factor contestant and Happy Mondays backing vocalist Rowetta Satchell is Queen Rat in Dick Whittington at the Grange Theatre in Hartford.

Something (slightly) more serious

For those who prefer meat to stilton at Christmas time, there are plenty of ‘grown-up’ festive treats to choose from. In Liverpool, theatre company Peepolykus (Spyski!) bring their unique comic spin to No Wise Men (3 December to 15 January), “the extraordinary tale of a reckless man who risks everything one Christmas Eve”. The Library Theatre stage A Christmas Carol (3 December - 8 January) at the Lowry, The Royal Exchange Xmas production - Harold Brighouse's Zack (7 December to 22 January) stars Justin Moorhouse and The Lowry's Lyric Theatre features an all star cast - including Sarah Jayne Dunn in Pele Productions' Peter Pan. As for the Palace Theatre in Manchester, they will be rocking out to Queen as We Will Rock You (3 December to 15 January) takes to the stage.

Some evergreen classics have already opened with the Theatre By The Lake in Keswick bringing Tom's Midnight Garden (until 15 January) and over in Bolton, The Octagon - they are presenting Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (until 15 January).

Enjoy!