Harlem Guys and Dolls, Menier's Barnum and more in this week's top openings

Stratford East’s panto returns and Sally Cookson takes us into Narnia

Joanne Sandi and Stephen Hoo
Joanne Sandi and Stephen Hoo

5. Rapunzel

Theatre Royal, Stratford East, until 13 January

Our pick of this week's panto openings (there's a lot) is this perennially kooky offering from the guys down in Stratford. Michael Bertenshaw returns as the villainous dame for his fourteenth pantomime at the theatre. Oh yes he does.

Read our Rapunzel casting story

4. Guys and Dolls

Royal Exchange, Manchester, until 6 December

Talawa Theatre and Michael Buffong transport this timeless classic to 1939 and the Harlem Renaissance. The all-black cast features Ray Fearon as Nathan Detroit and Ashley Zhangazha as Sky Masterson. With choreography by Kenrick H20 Sandy and a reworked scored with a bluesy-gospel feel, this is one production not miss this Christmas.

Watch our video in rehearsals with Guys and Dolls

Cora Kirk and Tom Wainwright
Cora Kirk and Tom Wainwright
© Anthony Robling

3. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

West Yorkshire Playhouse, until 27 January

Following acclaimed productions of La Strada, Peter Pan and Jane Eyre, the brilliant Sally Cookson directs this new adaptation of CS Lewis' festive favourite. Produced in collaboration with Marianne Elliott's new company Elliott & Harper productions, the piece has designs by War Horse's Rae Smith and new music by Benji Bower.

Read our interview with Peter Caulfield who stars as Mr Tumnus

Marcus Brigstocke
Marcus Brigstocke
© Nobby Clarke

2. Barnum

Menier Chocolate Factory, until 3 March

Comedian Marcus Brigstocke stars in the titular role in this revival of Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's Tony Award-winning musical. The crack cast also features Laura Pitt-Pulford, Celinde Schoenmaker, Lucie-Mae Sumner and Danny Collins, and is directed by Gordon Greenberg (Guys and Dolls). By the looks of the production pics, this will be the Menier like you've never seen it before.

Check out this first look gallery of the production pics

Chris Peluso and Anna O'Byrne
Chris Peluso and Anna O'Byrne
© Darren Bell

1. The Woman in White

Charing Cross Theatre, until 3 March

Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical (not to be confused with the scary-screaming-lady-play around the corner) is coming back to London for the first time since its 2004 West End premiere. The cast features brilliant talent including Anna O'Byrne, Carolyn Maitland and Chris Peluso and a reworked score from the Lord himself.

Read our interview with Anna O'Byrne