Your full guide to all the festive shows
The major productions in our area (excluding one-nighters) are:
Chichester Festival Theatre
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre will be heading down the celebrated Yellow Brick Road this Christmas as they stage The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum in their traditional festive slot on Chichester’s main-house stage
Running from December 14-29, it comes with a recommended age of seven and up and will be directed, as was last year’s show, by Lucy Betts.
The show comes during the 80th anniversary of the release of the landmark Judy Garland film. The CFT are promising a faithful adaptation of Baum’s classic novel in a version which was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and features all the beloved songs from the 1939 movie, including Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard.
When Dorothy runs away from her home in Kansas with her faithful dog Toto, she’s caught up in a terrifying cyclone and finds herself in the strange and magical land of Oz.
There she encounters a host of curious and enchanting characters. Accompanied by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, can Dorothy escape the Wicked Witch of the West, reach the Emerald City and find the mysterious Wizard of Oz?
The Chichester production will feature the music and lyrics of the MGM motion picture score by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, adapted by John Kane from the motion picture screenplay.
Lucy Betts, who directed 2018’s Sleeping Beauty, takes the reins again.
Box office 01243 781312 or online http://cft.org.uk. Tickets from £10. Family tickets: half price for up to four under 16s with every full priced paying adult (top three prices only, does not apply for performances December 26-29 inclusive).
Pavilion Theatre, Worthing
With an all-star cast, laugh-out-loud comedy capers and all the well-loved traditions of pantomime, Cinderella comes promised as Worthing’s most spectacular Christmas pantomime (Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, Friday, November 29 to Sunday, January 5).
“This year’s incredible all-star cast features Strictly Come Dancing’s Ian Waite, making his pantomime debut, as Dandini, the Prince’s cheeky but charming aide-de-campe,” said a spokesman.
“Ian will star alongside children’s TV presenter and CBBC favourite Naomi Wilkinson, in the title role as Cinderella, with Boyband A1’s Mark Read returning to Worthing, this time, as Prince Charming. Nicole Faraday, best known for her iconic portrayal as the glamorous murderess Snowball Merriman in ITV’s smash-hit series Bad Girls, stars as the Wicked Stepmother. Comedian Mark Jones, returns by popular demand to play Buttons after his scene-stealing spot as Wishee Washee in last year’s Aladdin.”
http://www.worthingtheatres.co.ukor on 01903 206206.
Alexandra Theatre, Bognor
Last seen in Bognor Regis as Abanazar in Aladdin, Jamie Bannerman is back in the town this Christmas as The Lion, his first goodie part for a while.
The Wizard of Oz is in the Alexandra Theatre from Wednesday, December 11-Saturday, January 4.
In all, it will be his fourth Bognor panto, a reflection of the fact that in Jamie’s view, Bognor really is one of the very best pantomime venues around.
“It has got that proper community spirit. It has got that fantastic family feel to it, and that is something that not all theatres have. Some theatres, you can perform there and you don’t even get to see the theatre manager. You just don’t see them at all! And you just think ‘Where is everyone?’”
That’s absolutely not the case at the Regis Centre where you are instantly wrapped up in the family feel of the whole place.
The Spring, Havant
Otto and The Robin will be the Christmas show at The Spring, Havant from December 19-28.
Spokeswoman Rachel Soothill said: “The show is a warming festive tale of friendship and learning to be a little bit bold and is a wonderful way to celebrate with your family
“It’s winter time and cold enough to snow. Otto lives at the edge of the tiny village. He's been invited to the annual Christmas party hosted by the chatty baker and old school friend, Maggie. It isn't that he doesn't want to go, it's just that he is very shy, so he has decided to stay at home on his own not talking to anyone.
“When a cheeky robin arrives at his window, a special bond develops over songs and cups of tea until Otto realises how important friendships can be.
“Using original music, live songs, beautiful puppetry and gentle interaction this is a heart-warming seasonal tale of friendship. Suitable for all ages but especially children age three and up and their family and friends.”
New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal has confirmed the cast for this year’s Christmas show, The Nutcracker.
Scott Ramsay, director of the theatre, said: “On a sparkling Christmas Eve, join Clara as she is swept away through a wondrous winter wonderland, full of treats, surprises and adventures.
“More than a story, The Nutcracker is the feeling of Christmas in one big parcel waiting for you to discover.
“A quintessential Christmas treat with luscious designs, wonderful sets and beautiful storytelling, join the stunning cast for the ultimate festive entertainment for all ages.”
Scott added: “This will be our third in-house Christmas show produced in Portsmouth and al-ready word has spread on the quality and difference of our work. Actors are turning down work with big companies elsewhere to be part of the magic we’re creating here, and that’s wonderful.
“Leading the cast is international musical actor Kurt Kansley, who plays genius inventor Drosselmeyer. Kurt has been seen and heard in many musicals across the world, such as Guys and Dolls, Miss Saigon and The Lion King, and most recently starred as Che in Hal Prince’s pro-duction of Evita at Sydney Opera House.
“He is joined by the immensely talented Caitlin Anderson as Clara and former Birmingham Roy-al Ballet artist Shaun Mendum as the Nutcracker Prince.
“Providing the malevolent edge this year is Neil Jennings, whose professional career has taken in children’s classic such as The Gruffalo alongside Shakespeare’s classics. His delicious take on the Mouse King will be one to be savoured.”
The Nutcracker, A Christmas Musical Spectacular, runs from 13 to 31 December at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. For further information, see http://newtheatreroyal.com.
Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford
X factor finalist Holly Tandy stars in Sleeping Beauty at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford from Friday, Deecember 6-Sunday, January 5.
When evil fairy, Carabosse doesn't receive an invitation to Princess Aurora's christening, she casts a curse on her. Can the Good Fair and Muddles protect Aurora? Will the Prince save the day?
X Factor finalist Holly will appear as Sleeping Beauty, alongside Kit Hesketh-Harvey as the Bad Fairy Carabosse, Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon as Nanny Fanny and Jamie Brook as Muddles.
Holly said: “I’m looking forward to playing an amazing character with a twist – all will be revealed. The character is all about female empowerment. It’s a great story and fabulous Christmas panto.”
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre director and director of Sleeping Beauty, Joanna Read said: “We are delighted that Holly Tandy will be joining the team here at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this year, playing Sleeping Beauty alongside our well-established pantomime favourites.”
LAMDA graduate Yolanda Ovide takes on the role of the Good Fairy: “She’s very much a traditional fairy, as in being very kind and sweet and caring, but she’ll also has a really feisty side and that she’s really able to stand up for herself. That’s something that really attracted me to the part.”
Tickets on 01483 440000 or http://www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk.
Super Sunday will be the big Christmas show at Brighton Dome with dates running from December 17-27.
Producer Antti Suniala said: “Delivering daring stunts blended with chaotic comedy, Super Sunday is Race Horse Company’s international hit fresh from critical acclaim at Edinburgh Fringe.
“With high energy acrobatic feats and barely controllable chaos, Super Sunday promises non-stop family fun, original music and a visual riot of colour, set in an imaginary amusement park filled with trampolines, giant seesaws and human catapults.
“The Finnish performers have developed the show without a director, resulting in a trick-fuelled show with unexpected surprises. The highly-skilled acrobats bring their own imagination to the stage, learning new skills and testing their own boundaries, and bizarrely the strength of clingfilm!
“Super Sunday begins with modern cowboys trotting out on horses wearing nothing but Hawaiian shirts, later a fearful teddy bear joins the group and a swimsuit clad gymnast is sent flying through the air. Surprises include breakdancing and martial arts as well as gravity defying stunts.”
Antti added: “We're excited to be performing at one of the UK's most distinguished arts venues, Brighton Dome. Super Sunday is a show that, even after 150 performances, is intoxicating and fun for the artists themselves. We think there's nothing better than to hear the laughter and screams of joy from the audience during our show. We can’t wait to bring it to Brighton this December.
“Since premiering the show, the company have toured internationally, making a mark on contemporary circus with their unique combination of surreal comedy and phenomenal acrobatics. Following a successful European tour, the group visit Brighton Dome over the festive season across two weeks this December.”
Tickets on 01273 709709 or http://brightondome.org
Chequer Mead Theatre, East Grinstead
LP Creatives return to East Grinstead’s Chequer Mead Theatre, promising the magical pantomime adventures of Cinderella.
Spokeswoman Alex Lynch-White said: “Join Cinders as she goes from rags to riches, outwits her wicked step-sisters and meets her dashing Prince Charming.
“Cinderella' will be packed with top quality special effects, slap-stick silliness, beautiful costumes and mesmerising scenery.
“The fantastic hand-picked cast will be once again joined by the talented students from local dance school, Roshe Performing Arts.”
Producer Lorna Price, from LP Creatives, said: “Last year we were delighted to again be greeted with such genuine enthusiasm and appreciation of the show. This year we have pulled out all the stops and we promise to bring a show to East Grinstead that will totally amaze everybody!
"We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful theatre with a generous stage and a marvellous crew behind us! Plus of course plenty of happy audience members watching the show. It allows us to give the performances some truly spectacular effects and create some fantastic memories!
“We have a stunning set that has to be seen to be believed, along with a fabulous animatronic horse and carriage that going to love – all this and a story full of wonder and magic!”
Cinderella’ runs from Saturday, December 14 to Wednesday, January 1. Tickets on 01342 302000 or http://www.chequermead.co.uk.
The Hawth, Crawley
Dick Whittington is the panto this year at the Hawth in Crawley, running from
December 6-January 5, starring Charlie Brooks (EastEnders, I'm a Celebrity Winner), Gemma Hunt (CBeebies' Swashbuckle), David Ribi (CH5's Milkshake), with Crawley favourites Michael J Batchelor and Richard Franks.
Once again, the show will be written by Paul Hendy, and produced by Evolution, the same team behind last year's hit, Aladdin.
Theatre Fideri Fidera, a company who create productions easily accessible to all families and children, will be at the Komedia in Brighton just before and after Christmas.
They are promising a Christmas theatrical treat for families and dog lovers of all ages –
Ugg ’n’ Ogg and the World’s First Dogg (Komedia, 44-47 Gardner Street, Brighton, BN1 1UN, December 21-29)
Writer Colin Granger said: “Thousands of years ago in the fresh, sparkling world just after the last Ice Age there were no dogs; there were wolves but we didn’t like them and they didn’t like us.
“Luckily for us, along came two young hunter-gatherers Ugg ’n’ Ogg who palled up with the wolves Tooth ’n’ Nail to embark on a fun-packed adventure involving flying meat bones, beat-boxing wolves, forest infernos and even a time travelling stick before finally getting the chance to pat the world’s first Dogg!”
Colin added: “In these troubled times when smiles are in short supply, our play celebrates something that we humans did get right: the invention of our best friend and faithful companion, the dog.
“Theatre Fideri Fidera’s new comedy is inspired by the truly amazing evolutionary process that transformed wolves into all the dogs we see in the world today.
Theatre Fideri Fidera is a Brighton-based Anglo-Swiss touring company dedicated to creating original, engaging and entertaining theatre, offering a shared experience for children and their families. Previous work includes Pitschi, the Kitten with Dreams and the Primary Times Children’s Choice Award Winner Oskar’s Amazing Adventure.
The Hawth, Crawley
The warm-hearted tale of Star in the Jar is brought to life by The Pied Piper Theatre Company at The Hawth, Crawley on Saturday, December 21 and Sunday, December 22.
Spokeswoman Lorraine McGregor said: “Star in the Jar is a magical story celebrating sibling love, the power of kindness and the joy of doing the right thing.
“Brilliantly adapted for the stage by Pied Piper’s artistic director Tina Williams, Star in the Jar is based on the picture book written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Sarah Massini and is a perfectly delightful show for young theatregoers and their families.
“Star in the Jar tells the tale of a little boy who stumbles across a special star. He puts it in a jar and takes it on adventures. But the poor star misses its home…
“Can the little boy and his big sister find a way to send the star safely back? Come to The Hawth Studio and find out.
“With characteristic flair and inspirational creativity, The Pied Piper Theatre Company uses word play, rhythm and rhyme, original music and songs to lift Star in the Jar from storybook page to stage.
Tickets on 01293 553636 and http://www.hawth.co.uk.
Following seven sell-out years of panto fun at Shoreham’s Ropetackle, LP Creatives return this Christmas with the magical tale of Snow White.
Writer Tom Beard said: “Magic mirrors, seven little men, poisoned apples and an enchanted Princess tell the classic story of Snow White. An evil stepmother, no longer fairest in the land, threatens to put an end to her beautiful stepdaughter, but can true love find a way and save her? All this and the usual mayhem and twists you can expect from a Shoreham panto.
“We can't wait for this year’s fun to begin!
“Among the highly professional cast this year are Ellen Eckersley as Snow White, Grace Dunne as The Evil Queen, James Elliot as Muddles, Nathan Shaw as Prince Wotsit and returning again is our resident Dame at the Ropetackle, the hilarious David Lambert rocking the frock as Nanny Fanny
“Plus celebrating 40 years of The Life of Brian and 50 years of The Monty Python comedy group, Carol Cleveland joins us as the Magic Mirror – an enthralling recorded performance using all her comedy skills garnered over the years!”
Snow White runs from December 13 to December 31. Tickets on 01273 464440 or
Brighton Theatre Royal, Nellie Limelight
Nellie Limelight and The Oysters of Time comes promised as a charmingly funny Christmas adventure for four to seven-year-olds and their grown-ups at Brighton Theatre Royal from
December 19-January 5.
Spokeswoman Laura Poncia said: “Theatre Royal Brighton’s Christmas show for young children has become a seasonal tradition for many families who come back every year to experience these beautifully made promenade performances that happen around you as you journey around the fascinating 200 year old building.
“Last year we premiered Nellie Limelight and The Oysters of Time and audiences liked it so much we are bringing it back for this year’s family Christmas treat!
“When theatre detective Nellie Limelight receives an anonymous call for help she sets out to investigate. Who is Dame Battie Baubles? What has Bert built in his workshop? Why is there seaweed in the grandfather clock?
“As audiences follow intrepid investigator Nellie Limelight around Theatre Royal Brighton they uncover a story of stolen jewels, pantomime villains, a broken time machine and a misplaced sea creature; Nellie needs their help to solve this most peculiar case!
“The character of Nellie Limelight is brought to life through Florence Leon’s funny, physical and quirky performance. Karl Williams plays Bert, the theatre’s maintenance man who is a dab hand at creating time machines; he also plays Bert’s demanding, selfish and downright nasty sister Dame Battie Baubles.
The Capitol, Horsham
Peter Pan is at Horsham’s Capitol from Friday, December 13-Sunday, January 5. Box office: 01403 750220 or http://www.thecapitolhorsham.com.
The immortal tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up is given a brand new pantomime treatment with an injection of pop and musical theatre songs, colourful sets and costumes, corny and clever gags and thoroughly family friendly entertainment.
Peter Pan is played by Anthony Sahota; Mrs Darling/Big Chief Chillaxin’ Cow by Nicola Hume; Captain Hook/Mr Darling by Nicholas Collier; Mrs Smee by Hywel Dowsell; Mini Smee (son of Mrs Smee) by James Fletcher; Wendy Darling by Rebecca Lafferty; John Darling by Daniel Kendon/Oscar Ward-Dutton; Michael Darling by Dexter Lamley-Grinstead/Theo Ranganathan; Tinkerbell – a fairy by Freddie Hill.
Aladdin is the panto at Southsea’s Kings Theatre this Christmas, running from December 11 to January 5, starring Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, Phats & Small’s Ben Ofoedu, The Voice star Lucy Kane, and Portsmouth’s favourite Dame, Jack Edwards.
Peter Pan will soar at Southampton’s Mayflower this Christmas running from December 14-January 5.
Marti Pellow, the multi-award-winning singer-songwriter and musical theatre star, leads the cast as the villainous Captain Hook. Joining him as Mr Smee will be television and stage star Darren Day, Union J singer Jaymi Hensley as Peter Pan and the Grumbleweeds as the Pirates.
A spokesman said: “Peter Pan will be packed full of sensational flying effects, a boat-load of laughter and all the entertainment Mayflower audiences expect from the south coast's biggest pantomime. Jump aboard the Jolly Roger and set sail for Neverland this Christmas, but be quick, with tickets selling fast the Croc is ticking...”
Brighton Theatre Royal
Brighton Theatre Royal as usual won’t be going down the panto route this Christmas, offering instead Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical (December 17-January 4).
Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the hilarious adventure of three friends on a heart-warming journey story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance, a spokesman said.
“The iconic musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert is going on tour! Starring Strictly Come Dancing winner Joe McFadden and with more glitter than ever before! This smash-hit show features a dazzling array of stunning costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, I Love The Nightlife and Finally!”