West End Gears Up for Christmas 1998Date: 12 November 1998
The Christmas season in the capitol is gearing up. In addition to countless pantomimes at fringe and regional venues, there are a number of new Christmas shows and classic seasonal revivals opening over the coming weeks in the West End.
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company production of Raymond Briggs' contemporary classic The Snowman opens at Sadler's Wells at the Peacock Theatre for an eight week season from 8 December. The show marks the 20th anniversary of the first publication of the story about a young boy's magical Christmas adventure with a snowman. The show is directed by Bill Alexander, choreographed by Robert North and features Howard Blake's music and lyrics, including 'Walking in the Air'.
On 15 December, another anniversary-marking production arrives for matinee performances at the Savoy Theatre. Fifty years after he was founded by Harry Corbett on Blackpool's North Pier, Sooty is back for a new adventure with children's TV friends Sue, Sweep and Scampi and presenters Richard Cadell and Liana Bridges. The show, The Sooty Magical Mystery Show, is suitable for 3 to 8 year olds and runs until 9 January 1999.
The National Theatre's 1997 production of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan receives a second run this year in the RNT's Olivier Theatre from 17 December 1998 to 23 February 1999. Fiona Laird directs the new version of the 1904 classic by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Michael Bryant takes over as the Storyteller with David Troughton as Captain Hook, Rebecca Johnson as Wendy and Justin Salinger as Peter, the boy who never grows up.
John Dowie's comic retelling of the manger tale offers a slightly more adult form of Christmas entertainment. Jesus, My Boy stars Tom Conti as father Joseph, the Jewish carpenter roped into an unlikely series of events. The play is diected by Tom Kinninmont and runs at the Apollo Theatre from 7 December 1998 to 27 March 1999.
Aside from theatre, there are two productions apiece of classic Christmas ballets, Prokofiev's Cinderella and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. The English National Ballet performs both at the Coliseum - Cinderella, choreographed by Derek Deane, runs 15 December to 9 January, and The Nutcracker, choreographed by Michael Corder, runs 11 to 16 January. The Royal Ballet, featuring Darcey Bussell, will dance Ashton's 1948 rendition of Cinderella at the Royal Festival Hall from 22 to 26 December. And the Birmingham Royal Ballet will dance The Nutcracker, choreographed by Peter Wright after Ivanov, at the Lyceum Theatre from 22 December to 9 January.
For information on more Christmas shows and pantomimes in London and around the country, check out the What's On Stage special panto section.