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Top non-festive, fun and frolicking shows to see this winter

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If you’re looking for some entertainment this festive season, but perhaps not feeling particularly festive, then worry not – we’ve got you covered!

Here are our top picks (outside of the world of pantomimes and stagings of A Christmas Carol) that bring the theatrical thrills without a single Santa in sight:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical

This brand-new production of the much-loved Roald Dahl classic is now up and running and delighting theatre and confectionary lovers alike all over again. Get your hands on a golden ticket posthaste!
Leeds Playhouse, until 28 January

Disney’s Newsies

Stop the press! The hit Broadway musical is finally here! Boasting a Tony-winning score by Disney legend Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a book by Kinky Boots scribe Harvey Fierstein, the ultimate underdog story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 is getting a whole new staging for its long-awaited UK premiere.
Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, from 29 November

Kerry Jackson

Cold Feet‘s Fay Ripley stars as the titular character of this new comedy by April De Angelis (My Brilliant Friend) about a woman who opens up a tapas restaurant in Walthamstow Village. Patatas bravas, anyone?

Dorfman at the National Theatre, from 30 November to 21 January

The Wizard of Oz

Curve continues its formidable tradition of staging high-profile musical revivals, following the success of shows such as West Side Story, A Chorus Line and Billy Elliot, with a new staging of The Wizard of Oz. Featuring the songs from the beloved MGM classic, alongside musical numbers by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, isn’t it time you took a trip down the Yellow Brick Road again?
Curve Leicester, until 8 January

Betty! A sort of Musical

Maxine Peake (Hamlet) returns to the Manchester stage, under the direction of Sarah Frankcom, to star in a new piece (co-written by Peake and Seiriol Davies) about a group of amateur musical theatre actors who put on a show about the first female speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd. Order! Order! Order your tickets today!
Royal Exchange Theatre, from 3 December to 14 January

One Woman Show

Liz Kingsman’s universally celebrated… well… one woman show lovingly spoofs the very theatrical genre that it lends its title from, and it’s about to make its West End premiere!
Ambassadors Theatre, from 14 December to 21 January

Treasure Island

If you’re in the Glasgow area over the festive season, why not pay a visit to nearby Cumbernauld for some swashbuckling action with Ross Mackay’s reimagining of Treasure Island, you landlubbers? Sea shanties, a’hoy!
Cumbernauld Theatre, from 29 November to 24 December

The Lion, the B!tch and the Wardrobe

If you’re in the Cardiff area and you have a penchant for parodies and adult humour, then The Lion, the B!tch and the Wardrobe might be right up your Cair Paravel! The production promises “flirty fauns, wicked wolves, a couple of beavers and the baddest b!tch of them all – Polly Amorous”.
Wales Millennium Centre, from 8 to 31 December

Stranger Sings!

Looking for a musical parody in London? Fan of a certain 1980s-lovin’, sci-fi series on Netflix? Jonathan Hogue’s Stranger Sings! has turned Off-Broadway upside-down and is currently enjoying its UK premiere. #JusticeForBarb!
The Vaults, until 15 January

Bugsy Malone

The touring production of Bugsy Malone settles down at Ally Pally for the festive period. Who needs Santa and Rudolph when you can have silly string and pies to the face, we ask you! Give a little love to this prohibition era caper.
Alexandra Palace Theatre, from 3 December to 15 January

Rapunzel

Annie Siddon’s “madcap” adaptation of the popular Brothers Grimm fairytale (complete with magic pigs) comes to Newbury this winter. Let your hair down and have a blast with Rapunzel, we say!
Watermill Theatre, until 1 January

As You Like It

If you’re searching for a comedy and need to scratch that Shakespearean itch this winter, director Josie Rourke has assembled a stellar cast, including Leah Harvey (Foundation), Rose Ayling-Ellis (EastEnders), Alfred Enoch (Red), Tom Mison (Watchmen) and Martha Plimpton (Sweat), for a hotly anticipated revival of As You Like It.
@sohoplace, 6 December to 28 January

The Wife of Willesden

Zadie Smith’s acclaimed adaptation of Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath is back, once again transforming the theatre auditorium into a boozy Willesden pub. Get the pints in and be merry!

Kiln Theatre, from 14 December to 28 January

The New Musketeers

A new musical comedy set in the world of The Three Musketeers, which sees the original trio lost at sea and their servants stepping up to hopefully save the day, is heading to Tunbridge Wells this winter. En garde!
Trinity Theatre and Arts Centre, from 14 December to 2 January

La Clique

If you haven’t seen the cabaret-infused spectacle that is La Clique yet, where have you been? An alternative festive tradition in its own right, the show shines a spotlight on everything from contortionism to burlesque and beyond.
Leicester Square Spiegeltent, until 7 January


Last Chance Saloon

A number of high-profile West End productions will be sadly coming to the end of their respective runs in January, so you may want to pay them a visit (or even a revisit) before it’s too late.

Here’s our “last chance saloon” list:

Come From Away (until 7 January)

The Great Gatsby (until 7 January)

Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical (until 8 January)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (until 8 January)

Mary Poppins (until 8 January)

Life of Pi (until 15 January)


Something for the kids?

There are plenty of shows hitting the London stages this winter, specifically catering for younger theatregoers. If you need to book a festive treats for the kiddies, here are our top picks:

The Wind in the Wilton’s (Wilton’s Music Hall)

Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever (Haymarket)

Hey Duggee (Royal Festival Hall)

Blippi The Musical (Lyric)

The Smartest Giant in Town (St Martin’s)

Featured In This Story

Blippi The Musical

Closed: 08 January 2023

Hey Duggee

Closed: 08 January 2023

The Wife of Willesden

Closed: 11 February 2023

Disney’s Newsies

Closed: 30 July 2023

Bugsy Malone

Closed: 15 January 2023

As You Like It

Closed: 28 January 2023

The New Musketeers

Closed: 02 January 2023

La Clique

Closed: 07 January 2023