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Christmas shows round-up

Sussex pantos, ballets, musicals, animations and adult-only laughs to book this festive season

Aladdin, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Fri 8 Dec – Wed 3 Jan

Former EastEnders heartthrob Michael Greco was twice voted sexiest man in soap and you can oggle him the flesh while your kids get on with the serious business of booing and cheering at Aladdin at the Assembly Hall Theatre just over the border in Tunbridge Wells. Greco plays Abanazar alongside Britain’s Got Talent‘s woman of many voices Jess Robinson as the slave of the ring while Aladdin himself is CBBC presenter Mark Rhodes. We’re promised a traditional show packed with slapstick, singing, dancing, beautiful costumes and plenty of audience participation (come on, you know you secretly love it!).

Grease, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Mon 11 – Sun 31 Dec

Grease is the word – it’s also the big Christmas show at Brighton this year. Tom Parker from boy band The Wanted plays Danny alongside Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope as Sandy and EastEnders’ and Strictly‘s Louisa Lytton as Rizzo. Tickets are from £20.90 and if it’s the one that you want, you’d better get booking like greased lightning! See my review here.

Jack & the Beanstalk, The Capitol, Horsham, Fri 8 – Sun 31 Dec

Sussex panto, Sussex panto 2017, Horsham panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Capitol Horsham, Chris Edgerley

Stephen Candy Photography

Jack’s shinning up the beanstalk at Horsham for this year’s panto which already has limited availability on some dates. Will Jack Trott regret his magic beans-cow swap or will he win the hand of Princess Apricot? I couldn’t possibly guess. Thigh slapping fun with stars from CBBC and Hollyoaks and the voice of Brian Blessed, from £11. See my review here. For little-uns up for some general silliness there’s also Tomfoolery Saves Christmas Dec 9 – 24 (£11.50).

Beauty and the Beast,  16 – 31 Dec, Moscow City Ballet: Swan Lake 3- 4 Jan, Sleeping Beauty, 5 – 7 Jan, Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre Youth Theatre gets to do the honours this Christmas with a musical version of Beauty and the Beast aimed at ages 7+ (tickets from £10). Afterwards, its time for a classic tale of love and betrayal – no, it’s not your family Christmas lunch, it’s Swan Lake performed by Moscow City Ballet first thing in the new year and followed by Sleeping Beauty. (tickets from £15). You can also catch classic musical Rent at the Minerva Theatre just before Christmas (20-23 Dec).

Sleeping Beauty, White Rock Theatre, Hastings, Fri 15 – Sun 31 Dec

Love her or hate her you’ve got to agree Honey G made an impact on X Factor and now the rapper is popping up as Fairy G in Hastings’ panto. It’s only on a two week run so if this is your Sussex panto of choice don’t get caught snoozing. Tickets from £15.50.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Fri 8 Dec – Sat 7 Jan / The Nutcracker, 21- 23 Dec, The Hawth, Crawley 

I really rate Michael J Batchelor as the dame at the Hawth and the good news is he’s back in this year’s panto. Stephen Mulhern from TV’s Catchphrase and Saturday Night Takeaway also stars and there’s a fab 3D “it’s behind you” scene. Tickets are from £17 and it’s selling fast. See my review here. The Hawth is also hosting Swan Lake performed by the Russian State Ballet on 30 Nov and afternoon performances of The Nutcracker by Let’s All Dance Thurs 21 – Sat 23 Dec.

Nutcracker Suite and The Snowman, Sat 16 Dec / Airplay, 21 – 26 Dec, The Snow Queen, 29 – 30 Dec,  Brighton Dome

Airplay. Image: Florence Montmare

Two Christmas favourites come together at The Dome on 16 Dec. The Nutcracker is brought to life with a special narration from CBeebies’ Pui Fan Lee, accompanied by beautiful illustrations. Then The Snowman is screened with a live performance of Walking in The Air. Both pieces are accompanied throughout by the Southbank Sinfonia. Circus and comedy follows in Airplay, with a run from 21-26 Dec featuring flying umbrellas, giant kites and a huge snowglobe. Finally, for 29 – 30 Dec it’s festive ballet The Snow Queen from Ballet Theatre UK. Tickets for each show are from £10.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Fri 1 Dec – Mon 1 Jan, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing 

The one and only Chesney Hawkes will be playing the dashing prince in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Worthing while Jo Brand will be lending her sarcastic tones as the voice of the mirror. X Factor finalist Niki Evans will be singing her heart out while dishing out poison apples as the wicked queen while comic bumbling comes courtesy of CBeebies’ Swashbuckle duo Joseph Elliott and Richard David-Caine. Tickets are from £12.50.

Adult Panto / Showstoppers, the improvised musical / The Night Before Christmas, Eastbourne Hippodrome, various dates

Most Sussex pantos have innuendos to keep the growns-ups amused but Sinbad the Seaman on 24 and 25 Nov is a strictly adult-only affair with a company of three racing through a raunchy plot, with minimal set and maximum cheek (Tickets from £17). Then, on 2 Dec, its Edinburgh Fringe favourite Showstoppers – the improvised musical  There’s a kids’ version at 3.00pm (£11 upwards) and an adult one at 8.00pm (£16 up). Something for little-uns is on close to the big day with the team behind the stage version of Aliens Love Underpants bringing a mouse’s adventure to the Hippodrome in The Night Before Christmas. It’s on 18 – 24 Dec and tickets are from £9.

Cinderella and the Beanstalk, 14 Dec – 6 Jan/ Mischief & Mystery in Moominvalley 22 Dec – 2 Jan,  The Old Market, Hove

They like to do the Xmas panto a bit differently at The Old Market so this year there’s a Cinderella and the Beanstalk mash up. Three actors and one musician recreate over 60 characters plucked from a host of pantos with a tale of Cinderella escaping blackmailing Rumpelstiltskin by finding a golden egg up a beanstalk. Sounds bonkers. It’s for ages 6+ and tickets are from £8. Before then, there’s festive burlesque for adults with a visit from the Hundred Watt Club on Sat 2 Dec. Back firmly in kids’ domain on 22 Dec to 2 Jan is Mischief & Mystery in Moominvalley,  a show with charming pupperty and a pop-up book set aimed at 3-7-year-olds (£8).

Dick Whittington, Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham, 13 – 31 Dec

From old ‘Laandaan Taaan’, across the high seas and on to Morocco – Dick Whittington is off in search of treasure. Well, at least he’s bound to pick up a few bargains in a souk. We’re promised pirates, kung-fu cats, monkeys and maybe a mermaid or two. There will be mats at the front for youngsters to sit on if they wish. Tickets from £10.


The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Mon 19 – Wed 21 Feb

Siberia’s acclaimed ballet company is coming in from the cold with a return to Brighton, bringing their performances of Romeo & Juliet (Mon 19 Feb), Cinderella (Tues 20 Feb) and Swan Lake (Wed 21 Feb) on consecutive days in February. Book ahead and surprise someone with the tickets for Christmas.

War Horse, Brighton Centre, Thurs 25 Jan – 10 Feb 

Such a wonderful production, the puppets really are impressive and having had a storming London run it’s now dropping in on tour. It’s suitable for older kids upwards (I took my mum) and is perfect for a Christmas present.


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