Taking your little one to see a pantomime for the first time at Christmas is a right of passage. But if you hate cheesy costumes and gimmicks, then why not visit a more sophisticated theatre show this season which is still full of fun, frolics and aimed children. Belle About Town has searched London to find the top must-see alterative pantos.
If you can only visit one alternative panto then see Stick Man at Leicester Square Theatre in London. The show follows the tale of Stick Man who lives the perfect life with his wife and three children. But he soon discovers the outside world is a dangerous place where a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him and he nearly ends up on fire, before Santa comes and saves the day. This was the first theatre production I took my three-year to see and he absolutely loved it. He was enthralled from start to finish and he never said the dreaded words “I’m bored”. It helps that the show only lasts an hour which is the perfect length for a toddler. He is also a big fan of the book and was mesmerised as he watched the talented actors bring his favourite story to life. The production used a lot of audience participation – which caused lots of giggles among the children. My son loved watching the dog chase Stick Man through the audience. There was also a fun moment when the actors, who played bat and ball with Stick Man, threw a gigantic beach ball into the audience. The children screamed and squealed as the ball bounced all the way through the theatre. The show cleverly used puppets and props to bring the story to life. The songs were also very catchy – so much so that my son left theatre singing the main theme tune: “Stick Man lives in the family tree, with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children – one, two, three.” The show is a wonderful collaboration by Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre, and brings to life the amazing tale written by Julia Donaldson. If you’re not familiar her name, then you certainly will be familiar with her work. Donaldson is the brainchild behind best-selling children’s books The Gruffalo, and Room On The Broom. This production has returned to the London theatre for a fifth consecutive season which speaks volumes about its popularity. But if you’re interested, then book now because the BBC will broadcast its animation film of Stick Man this Christmas – where demand for ticket will inevitably blow-up.
Dates: Until Sunday January 3 2016
Tickets: £14 /£19.50 (Family tickets £55)
Venue: Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Pl, London WC2H 7BX.
Box Office: 08448 733433 or log on www.leicestersquaretheatre.com
The beloved production for young children returns for the fourth year. Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas has become a must-see Christmas show for families, especially as a great introductory theatre experience for young children. Follow Santa as he awakes from a dream of sun, sea and sand only to find it is the busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve. This timeless festive story bursts into life with live music, playful puppets and a magical set. Raymond Briggs is famous for illustrating the festive tale of The Snowman – so you can guarantee that this story is also bound to impress too. The hand-painted set has an old-school appeal to it, complete with gorgeous wooden animal puppets. Its a great show to watch to get your family in a festive mood.
Dates: Until Thursday 24 December 2015
Venue: The Lyric Theatre, Kings Mall Shopping Centre, King St, Lyric Square, London W6 0QL
Box Office: 020 8741 6850 or log on www.lyric.co.uk
This enchanting show follows the tale of a man and his wife who longed for – a child of their own. So one cold, white winter’s day, they sculpt a daughter out of snow and something magical and extraordinary happens. Let the award-winning company Dancing Brick transport you into a wintry world of warmth this Christmas. This striking, visual show with live music and enchanting puppetry, is a vibrant and inventive retelling of a classic folktale that is both funny and touching. A perfect Christmas treat.
Dates: Until Sunday January 3 2016
Tickets: Under 18s £12 and Adults: £18 (concessions £18 off).
Venue: Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, Southwark, London, SE1 2HZ
Box Office: 020 7645 0560 or log on www.unicorntheatre.com
This musical spectacular returns to the stage this Christmas to entertain families once more. This tale is about a young boy who befriends a giraffe, a pelican (known as Pelly) and a monkey. Join them on their unexpected adventures when they create the ‘Ladderless Window Cleaning Company’. If you love puppets, dance routines and catchy songs then this is the show for your family. You know the production will impress because this joyous musical show is brought to life by the creative team behind Little Angel favourites including ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘The Mouse Queen’. Please note that this production is suitable for age 4 to 11, but babies and children under 3 are only admitted during the ‘All Ages’ performances which vary so please check the diary.
Dates: Until Sunday 31 January 2016
Tickets: £14 / £12 for children and concessions. Family ticket offer £48
Venue: Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage London N1 2DN.
Box Office: 020 7226 1787 or log on www.littleangelthreatre.com