Panto is back for 2021 — oh yes it is! Here's our pick of the biggest pantomimes happening at London theatres for Christmas 2021.
Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith
Aladdin? Check. Jasmine? Check. Genie, Wishy, Dave Twankey? Check, check, check. Lyric Hammersmith's Aladdin has all the makings of your traditional panto — but then, they've been putting on pantomime here since 1897, so they know what they're doing.
Headed up by the all-female team of writer Vikki Stone and director Abigail Graham, Aladdin's magic carpet ride is accompanied by several musical numbers, and the traditional rendition of the Lyric's unofficial anthem, Glory, Glory Hammersmith, which regulars to the panto have come to know and love over the years. Start warming up those vocal cords.
Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith, 19 November 2021-2 January 2022. Age 6+. Relaxed performance 10 December, audio described performance 11 December, open captioned performance 18 December, and BSL performance 29 December.
The Queen of Hearts at Greenwich Theatre
As well as writing and directing the show, Andrew Pollard takes on the role of pantomime dame in The Queen of Hearts, a (PG) love triangle involving the Knave of Hearts, the Princess of Diamonds, the Prince of Spades, and the Queen’s secret jam recipe. Oo-er.
The Queen of Hearts at Greenwich Theatre, 19 November 2021-2 January 2022. Relaxed performance 3 December.
Jack and the Beanstalk at Hackney Empire
Hackney Empire's pantomime is a legendary, and this year the venue is tackling Jack and the Beanstalk. Olivier Award-winner Clive Rowe is back for his 14th airing as the panto dame, this time playing Jack's mother Dame Trot. Rochelle Sherona (previously in Mamma Mia!) stars as Jack. From past experience of Hackney Empire's offerings, expect razor-sharp topical references that'll keep the grown-ups chuckling.
Jack and the Beanstalk at Hackney Empire, 20 November 2021-2 January 2022. Relaxed and dementia-friendly performance on 4 December, signed performances on 4 and 10 December.
Red Riding Hood at Stratford East
We're promised "show-stopping new songs, thigh-slapping gags, breath-taking sets and costumes" as Stratford East tackles Red Riding Hood. Elise Zavou stars as Red, with Phil Nichol as Granny. Stratford East aims to make its pantos relevant to the local community, so listen out for east London references as you venture through the deep, dark wood.
Red Riding Hood at Stratford East, 27 November-31 December 2021. BSL-interpreted performance 16 December, captioned performance 17 December, audio-described performance 18 December, relaxed performance 30 December. Socially-distanced performances 9 and 30 December.
Pantoland at The Palladium
The Palladium's festive number never fails to reel in the big names, and this year it's snared singer Donny Osmond, actors Julian Clary and Nigel Havers, comedian Paul Zerdin, and singer/actor/comedian/presenter Gary Wilmot. Musical theatre stars Jac Yarrow (Joseph) and Sophie Isaacs (Heathers) also join the male-heavy top billed cast.
As for the show? Pantoland, which played for a few shows last Christmas before restrictions cut its run short, is a celebration of the best bits of panto — comedy, showstopping musical numbers and razzle-dazzle costumes. Dancing is courtesy of the world's longest running dance troupe, The Tiller Girls.
Pantoland at The Palladium, from 4 December 2021
Sleeping Beauty at Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Rescheduled from last year, Bromley's Sleeping Beauty stars musical theatre actor Lee Mead (Joseph) as The Prince, and Bonnie Langford as The Good Fairy, with Britain's Got Talent semi finalist Myra Dubois as Carabosse. It's the traditional tale of the cursed spinning wheel and 100-year nap, with added magic, music, comedy and special effects.
Sleeping Beauty at Churchill Theatre, Bromley. 4 December 2021-2 January 2022.