London's panto scene flounces back onto the stage for Christmas 2023, camper and funnier than ever — oh yes it does! Here's our pick of the biggest and best pantomimes happening at London theatres this Christmas. Most are family friendly, but a handful are strictly for the big kids 😉
Aladdin at Hackney Empire
The great panto dame Clive Rowe drags it up again at Hackney's outrageously funny panto — this time as Widow Twankey. Among the rest of the cast, George Heyworth is Mildew Funk, and Fred Double is in the lead role of Aladdin. We highly recommend Hackney's panto as one that'll make the adults roar as much as the kiddos.
Aladdin at Hackney Empire, 18 November-31 December 2023. Relaxed and dementia-friendly performance on 2 December, signed performances on 2 and 14 December.
Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith
Award-winning panto scribe Vikki Stone has crafted this take on the fairytale about a pauper-turned-princess, and what with this being the Lyric and all, you can expect as much sass as there is magic. Cinderella in this case is a 'bonafide boss-lady', running her own business at Shepherd's Bush Market. Chart-topping hits promise to make this outing extra fun.
Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith, 18 November 2023-6 January 2024. Age 6+. Relaxed performance 5 December, audio described performance 14 December, open captioned performance 20 December, BSL performance 27 December.
Jack and the Beanstalk at Stratford East
There's definitely some social commentary going on in this version of Jack and the Beanstalk, in which Jack lives in the village of Splatford (geddit?), which is controlled by an all-seeing beast called Giant Belch, who charges outrageous rents, and pollutes the air with his burps and farts. As usual, Stratford puts it own twist on the panto format, and as usual, it'll be a riot.
Jack and the Beanstalk at Stratford East, 18 November 2023-6 January 2024. Captioned performance 15 December, audio-described performance 16 December, BSL-interpreted performance 21 December, relaxed performance 2 January.
Dick Whittington at The Arts Centre, Hounslow
The first of a few Dicks this panto season. Last year, the Arts Centre was nominated for three panto awards — Best Ugly Sisters, Best Ensemble and Best Small Pantomime — and you can expect a pro performance at this smaller London venue, with Jonathan Ashby in the lead role of the London mayor who refuses to quit.
Dick Whittington at The Arts Centre, 23 November-31 December 2023.
Snow White at Greenwich Theatre
Anthony Spargo — who's written for the Horrible Histories stage shows — has penned the script for this take on Snow White, so you can expect gags galore. Not a heck of a lot more info available for this one, although with a 2 hours 30 running time, it promises to be a meaty panto.
Snow White at Greenwich Theatre, 23 November 2023-7 January 2024.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong at The Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue
Talk about Pan-demonium. The 'Gone Wrong' franchise turns its bumbling hands to pantomime, with its creaky rendition of Peter Pan, which — as the title hints — might not go quite according to plan. If your kid's into their slapstick comedy, this one should be on your radar.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong at The Lyric, 23 November 2023-13 January 2024.
Potted Panto at Wilton's Music Hall, Shadwell
Crush multiple pantomimes for the price of one, as Potted Panto sweeps you through 80 hilarious minutes of Aladdin, Dick Whittington, Cinderella and many others. Sounds like a tiring job for the cast, and with luck, it'll tire out your hyperactive kids too. The fact this is on at the gorgeous Wilton's is a smashing bonus.
Potted Panto at Wilton's Music Hall, 29 November-30 December 2023.
Tossed at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern
"We're gonna need a bigger beanstalk..." Expect to cackle with laughter at this extremely X-rated take on the traditional fairytale, from the people who brought us Slipped, Rubbed, Goosed, Pricked and Cracked. Tossed (spotting a theme there?) tells the story of what happened after Jack slayed the giant and felled the beanstalk with his chopper... Take the kids to this one and they'll in social care by New Year's.
Tossed at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 28 November 2023-5 January 2024.
Cinderella at Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Loose Women panellist Brenda Edwards plays the Fairy Godmother in Bromley's adaptation of the rags-to-riches tale about Cinders. Glad to report there's also some ventriloquism action courtesy of John Kimmons in the role of Baron Hardup.
Cinderella at Churchill Theatre, 2-31 December 2023.
The Hunger Gays - An Adult Panto at Two Brewers, Clapham
From the makers of Alice in Poundland comes what is surely the only pantomime to take its cue from a dystopian film series... The Hunger Gays is set in "what was once a United Kingdom, in the Gay Capital of Padam (Padam)", has a lead character called Katpiss Everqueen, and is certain to be a hoot for those who like their jokes very adult indeed.
The Hunger Gays - An Adult Panto, 7-29 December 2023.
Dick Whittington at The Broadway, Barking
The all-new Pantomime Company has created a shiny new Dick Whittington, which promises to shoehorn in plenty of local jokes, as it spins the story of Dick, and his quest to make it in the city where the streets are paved with gold... apparently.
Dick Whittington at The Broadway, 7-31 December 2023. Signed performance 10 December, sign for schools performance 12 December, relaxed performance 17 December, dementia-friendly performance 28 December.
Jack and His Giant Beanstalk at the Prince of Wales, Drury Lane
Off the back of five-star reviews for last year's Sinderfella, the Prince of Wales returns with (as the title suggests) its altogether risqué take on Jack and the Beanstalk, feat. characters like the Evil Queen Genetalia, Jack Trotts and Fairy Courgette. If the laughter doesn't bring down the house, feelgood party anthems like Thriller, I Will Survive, and Wannabe surely will.
Jack and His Giant Beanstalk at the Prince of Wales, Drury Lane, 8-22 December 2023.
Cinderella at New Wimbledon Theatre
Comedian and magician extraordinaire Pete Firman clearly likes it in Wimbledon (and Wimbledon clearly likes him), as he returns for the third time in his role as Buttons. Other star turns in Cinderella include Olivier-nominated actress Alison Jiear as the Fairy Godmother and Daniel Norford as Dandini — while Craig Revel Horwood vamps it up as the Wicked Stepmother. This promises to be a good 'un.
Cinderella at New Wimbledon Theatre, 8 December 2023-7 January 2024.
Dick Whittington at Richmond Theatre
Husband and wife team/professional comedians Paul Merton and Suki Webster promise to amp up the laughs in another Dick Whittington for 2023. If you don't nab tickets for the Palladium in time (or only very spenny ones are left), then Richmond Theatre looks like a safe alternative.
Dick Whittington at Richmond Theatre, 9 December 2023-7 January 2024.
Peter Pan at The Palladium, Oxford Circus
One of the festive highlights of the year is finding out which ludicrous outfits Julian Clary will flounce out onto the Palladium stage in. (There are behind-the-scenes videos about it and everything.) The master of double-entendres is ably abetted by some of the panto's great stalwarts, including Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot and America's Got Talent winner, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. Are we forgetting someone? Oh yes, comedy legend, Jennifer Saunders is in it this year, too. The Palladium's is, by all means, the Grand Dame of pantos.
Peter Pan at The Palladium, 9 December 2023-14 January 2024. Sign language interpreted performance 31 December, audio described performance 10 January, captioned performance 11 January.
Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Pig at JW3, Finchley Road
Up in north London, JW3 presents Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Pig — the traditional fairy tale as told through a Jewish lens. Set during Chanukah, Little Red Riding Hood embarks on a journey from the Edge of Ware to Gants on the Hill, on a quest to save her Bubbah from the Big Bad Pig. Along the way, she discovers wonder, magic... and vegetarian wolves.
Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Pig at JW3, 10 December 2023-7 January 2024
Peter Pan the Panto at Wandsworth Civic Suite
With tickets starting at just £11, Hurricane Productions' adaptation of the story about the boy who never grew up is on of the thriftiest in town, but nonetheless promises to pack in the silly jokes, vibrant scenery and wonderful costumes. A 'chill out room' is available too, providing a quiet space while the panto's on.
Peter Pan the Panto at Wandsworth Civic Suite, 16-23 December 2023. Sensory performances on 17 and 21 December.
Aladdin at Fairfield Halls, Croydon
Davood Ghadami, of EastEnders and Holby fame, plays baddie Abanazer in Croydon's biggest panto — at Fairfield Halls. Kiera Nicole (Princess Jasmine) and Charlie Guest (Wishee Washee) also appear in this family-friendly panto.
Aladdin at Fairfield Halls, 16 December 2023-7 January 2024. Relaxed performance on 19 December, captioned performance on 30 December.