By Nigel Smith
YOU lucky people! If you live in the Liverpool region you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to Christmas entertainment and there really is something on offer for everyone, even if you’re allergic to panto. Struggling to make up your mind with so much to choose from? Then look no further, because we’re here to help you out.
We’ve been making a list and checking it twice, and after visiting pretty much every show we can find over recent years we reckon we know what’s going to be naughty or nice, or maybe a bit of both.
If it’s a traditional family panto you’re after there are several to choose from, with heroes, villains and dames in abundance. These shows will delight children and adults alike.
The Epstein Theatre presents Peter Pan from 8th December to 1st January. Starring Another Level’s Dane Bowers, the show also features Radio City’s Claire Simmo. Michael Chapman is back as the dame and the title role will be played by another Epstein favourite, Lewis Pryor.
New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion also offers Peter Pan, with Coronation Street’s Mark Bayliss as the dastardly Captain Hook, Big Cook, Little Cook’s Dan Wright as Mr Smee. Running from 9th December to 7th January.
St Helens Theatre Royal are playing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 2nd December to 7th January. Another Coronation Street star Lucy Jo Hudson plays the lead opposite her Charming Prince, Jack Rigby, along with Lewis Devine, Resident Dame Si Foster and Richard Hazlewood.
Drops of Light will transform The Black-E into an enchanted castle for Beauty and the Beast from 6th to 31st December, with a cast including Tori Hargreaves, Nick Langmeade, Alan Stocks, Ciaran Kellgren, Jamie Greer, Adam McCoy and Helen Carter.
Liverpool Empire begins a new partnership with Qdos Entertainment this year for Cinderella, running from 16th December to 7th January. This promises large-scale glitz, and the cast includes Hollyoaks/Blue star Duncan James, I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger and John Evans as Buttons.
If you want your panto to pack a big musical punch and an extra dose of double-entendre, then The Everyman’s The Little Mermaid fits the bill, from 25th November to 20th January. The legendary Rock’n’Roll panto once again features the equally legendary Adam Keast and Francis Tucker, and the cast includes Everyman favourites Stephanie Hockley, Lucy Thatcher, Danny Burns and the UK Panto Award-winning Tom Connor.
Absolutely perfect for younger children of 5 upward, but a delight for grown-ups too, is Unity Theatre’s production of The Jungle Book from 1st December to 6th January. Co-produced with Action Transport Theatre, the show will be full of music and dance, and the cast of Asif Majid, Fionnuala Dorrity, Joe Shipman and Samuel Perez Duran will transform Unity with this re-told classic.
If you’re looking for seasonal entertainment that’s a diversion from the usual panto, then there’s still more to choose from:
Liverpool Playhouse presents Baskerville – A Sherlock Holmes Mystery from 9th December to 13th January. Ken Ludwig’s re-working of the well-known tale of a ghostly hound promises to be hugely entertaining, with a cast of 5 actors playing 42 characters. It’s had audiences rolling in the aisles across the USA and now makes its UK premiere here in Liverpool this Christmas.
Chester’s Storyhouse have chosen Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven as their first Christmas show from 1st December to 14th January. The first time the children’s classic has been staged, the show is written by Glyn Maxwell, who adapted Alice in Wonderland for Storyhouse’s opening season, and directed by Alex Clifton (Stig of the Dump). It promises to be faithful to the book but reimagined for the stage in an original way.
Finally, if you want to leave the children at home, the Royal Court have their traditional and uniquely Liverpool focused show, with all your regular favourites on stage. The Scouse Nativity (24th November to 13th January) tells its own very grown-up version of the greatest story ever told – the Gospel according to Our Terry. With a 16+ advisory, there will be adult humour the way that only the Royal Court do it.
So go on – treat yourself. Whether you choose something very traditional or decide on one of the antidotes to panto on offer, we hope you have a great time.