The English National Ballet’s Christmas season at the Coliseum will feature a return for last year's production of The Nutcracker, and the premiere of a new version of 2008 show Strictly Gershwin, reconfigured for proscenium arch.

Choreographed by Wayne Eagling and designed by Peter Farmer, The Nutcracker, which runs from 8 to 30 December 2011, is a traditional retelling of the story set in atmospheric Edwardian London.

It marks the English National Ballet’s tenth production of The Nutcracker since it performed its first full length Nutcracker at the Stoll Theatre in its founding year 1950. English National Ballet has performed the Tchaikovsky ballet every single Christmas since then.

It's followed, from 4 to 15 January 2012, by Strictly Gershwin, which promises a “sparkling and spectacular finale to Christmas at the Coliseum”. The full Company of 68 dancers and guests will “tap, twirl, jeté and glide their way through a series of Gershwin classics”, performed by an on-stage jazz orchestra.

The show, first seen at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008 (it returned there in June this year, starring Maria Friedman), is an homage to George Gershwin, the big band era and the glamour of musical motion pictures.

Gershwin’s timeless classics are combined with Derek Deane’s choreography and Roberta Guidi di Bagno’s designs to “conjure up the Hollywood genius and glamour of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers”. Joining the company will be tappers Paul Robinson and Douglas Mills.  

Now reconfigured from an in-the-round to a proscenium arch version, Strictly Gershwin will tour the UK this autumn prior to its return to London.


In other Christmas season news, festive favourite The Snowman, adapted from Raymond Briggs' classic picture book, is returning to Sadler's Wells for its record-breaking 14th season later this year, running at the Peacock Theatre from 30 November 2011 to 8 January 2012.

First published in 1978, the story follows the nocturnal adventures of a boy whose snowman miraculously comes to life.

The live show, directed by Bill Alexander and choreographed by Robert North, also includes characters such as a magical reindeer, a snow princess and the wicked Jack Frost. The music features Howard Blake’s hit Christmas song “Walking in the Air”, which reached number three in the UK charts when sung by Aled Jones in 1985.

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production is designed by Ruari Murchison, with lighting by Tim Mitchell.