Five of the best pantomimes and family Christmas shows in Luton, Dunstable and beyond in the coming days
From soap stars to storybook favourites, there's much to enjoy...
1 SNOW WHITE
Grove Theatre, Dunstable, until December 31
Television star Charlie Brooks takes to the stage for the Grove Theatre panto. Charlie rose to prominence playing the role of Janine Butcher in EastEnders, winning acclaim from viewers and critics. Charlie’s other extensive television credits include Robin Hood, Love Soup and Bleak House (all for BBC).
She’s played various stage roles to widespread praise, too.
2 JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Luton Library Theatre, until Christmas Eve
A Bedfordshire theatre company is promising to bid farewell to the dusty days of traditional pantomime with its latest show. Full House Theatre’s new take on Jack and the Beanstalk offers a fresh perspective for today’s families – exploring what it means to be a man and a hero in the modern age.
Jack Spratt’s Dairy is struggling, so Jack and chums put their heads together to find a solution.
They think of everything – selling the cow, making milkshakes instead of milk, and even finding themselves some magic beans.
And when Jack climbs up to Cloudland, he reflects on the world below and his place within it.
Fathers, sons, friends and heroes, the show aims to show everyone can be brave and bold like Jack and find their own place in the world. Jack and the Beanstalk promises a gripping story, colourful characters, mesmerising giant puppetry and original music.
3 ROBIN HOOD
Milton Keynes Theatre, until January 13
Soap star Shane Richie leads the cast in this year’s Milton Keynes Theatre panto. He stars in the title role alongside comedian Peter Piper as Friar Tuck and West End star Gina Murray as the Spirit of Sherwood. Having established himself as one of the nation’s favourite soap stars, Shane has won numerous awards and millions of fans for his portrayal of Albert Square’s lovable landlord Alfie Moon in EastEnders. Most recently Shane released his critically-acclaimed album A Country Soul, an album inspired by his musical heroes and contemporary country sounds. Stage roles include touring productions of Peter James’ A Perfect Murder and Not Dead Enough. Peter Piper is no stranger to both sides of the Atlantic having appeared in television series in the UK and the USA and has worked as a voice-over artist on Black Beauty, Patriot Games and Pocahontas. He has also appeared as Tom Ridley in the ITV soap Coronation Street recently. Gina Murray has recently received much acclaim for portraying Velma von Tussle in Hairspray and has appeared in Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Fame and The Full Monty as well as appearing in Doctors, EastEnders and Judge John Deed. They are joined by The Acromaniacs, a fast and funny slapstick acrobatic act constantly in worldwide demand.
4 PETER PAN
Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, until December 31
Holby City and Coronation Street star John Michie is playing villainous baddie Hook, alongside BBC Three Counties Breakfast Show presenter Andy Collins, Britain’s Got Talent’s La Voix and Nickelodeon’s Holly Atterton as Tinker Bell in this year’s swashbuckling adventure. Meet the Lost Boys, Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell, and get ready for a family show full of fun, fairy dust and pirates galore. Set sail for Neverland, take on Captain Hook and prepare for out-of-this-world flying effects, galleons of laughter and the hungriest of crocodiles.
5 TABBY McTAT
The Stables, Wavendon, until December 30
Tabby McTat is a busker’s cat with the loudest of meows. He sings all day long with his best friend Fred, until one day they get separated.
Tabby finds shelter and a new life with all the home comforts a cat could dream of, but soon misses his old friend.
The book by Julia Donaldson is brought to the stage with original songs and inventive puppetry. Julia Donaldson said: “I have a very soft spot for Tabby McTat, perhaps because I used to be a busker myself, and also because I am a great cat-lover. So I’m absolutely delighted Freckle Productions are going to be dramatising my story and I can’t wait to see it.”