The British stage is booming so whether you want a traditional panto, a family sing-along or some serious drama, here are the hottest tickets that will delight everyone this Christmas.
Shows for all the family…
Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes, it certainly is, but this spectacular production isn’t just for Christmas. It’s the stage version of Disney’s much-loved animation.
Has it still got the lamp? Yes, and the magic carpet, and the Cave of Wonders, and so much more. If you love Disney’s animated movie, it’s all here, including the motormouth Genie and great songs like A Whole New World.
Where is it on? Prince Edward Theatre, London, until April
The First Hippo on the Moon
Science fiction? Yes, but with a difference. This space adventure was conjured up by comedian David Walliams and his book has been adapted by award-winning children’s theatre group Les Petits. Walliams’s off-the-wall humour and some magical puppetry make this a perfect family outing.
Where is it on? Touring the UK from December to July
To book tickets, visit lesspetitstheatre.com
Surely this one is a panto?
Not quite. It’s still an awfully big adventure, but the Bristol Old Vic production at the National Theatre, aimed at over-sevens, mixes action, comedy and music for a special twist on the classic tale.
Where is it on? National Theatre, London, from 16 November
What Girls? It’s those Calendar Girls, the Yorkshire WI members who became global celebrities after they bared all for charity.
Am I going to need bigger buns? That’s the one. Gary Barlow has written the songs and original scriptwriter Tim Firth is directing, so expect laughter, tears and plenty of saucy jokes.
Where is it on? Phoenix Theatre, London, from 28 January
What are they dreaming about? Fame mostly. The 2006 movie, starring Beyoncé, won Oscars, but Dreamgirls started life as a spectacular Broadway musical 35 years ago and is now finally hitting the stage in London.
Is Beyoncé going to be in it? No, but Glee star Amber Riley makes her West End debut as a member of “The Dreams”, a female singing trio based on the Supremes who discover the road to the top can be a bumpy one.
Where is it on? Savoy Theatre, London, from 19 November
More girls? We’re not raining on anyone’s parade. Women are clearly ruling the roost at the moment. This classic tells the story of Fanny Brice, one of the great stars of vaudeville and is going on tour after winning rave reviews in London.
Who’s telling the gags? Sheridan Smith plays Fanny and while she is a very funny girl, she’ll also tug
at your heartstrings with a performance of power and emotion (check casting when booking).
Where is it on? Touring the UK from 18 February
To book tickets, visit funnygirlthemusical.co.uk
Laughter and tears…
A play about rambling? Not sure tap shoes are the best things for hill walking. This is Richard Harris’s 1984 comedy drama about the ups and downs of very different women who attend a weekly dance class.
So a bit like Strictly? Well, there are “seveeern” of them including cherished TV favourites Amanda Holden, Angela Griffin, Tamzin Outhwaite and Tracy-Ann Oberman.
When is it on? Touring the UK, then at the Vaudeville Theatre London from 1 March
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Her prose is kind of dense. Actually, this isn’t really about Virginia Woolf or her books at all. The booze-soaked, sharp-tongued character at the centre of this Edward Albee drama is called Martha.
She sounds fun. Oh, this is no game. It’s a brutal portrait of a marriage in meltdown, with Imelda Staunton starring and Game of Thrones Conleth Hill as the husband on the receiving end.
Where is it on? Harold Pinter Theatre London from 22 February to 27 May
A comedy in a morgue? Not quite but there’s plenty to laugh about for Richard (Rufus Jones) who runs a society celebrating dead comedians. He’s a busy man – Terry Johnson’s play is set in 1992 when Frankie Howerd and Benny Hill joined the variety bill in the sky one day apart.
Call that a social life? It’s not much of a life for his wife (Katherine Parkinson), who feels neglected while Richard plays with his mates – including Ralf Little and Steve Pemberton.
Where it it on? Vaudeville Theatre, London, until 4 February
Nemo! He’s a nice fish for sure, but Mark Rylance and his friend are hoping to catch something a bit different from beneath a frozen lake in Minnesota.
So am I going to have a whale of a time? This is about so much more than the rod and line, and a Mark Rylance (BFG, Wolf Hall) stage appearance is always a bit special.
Where is it on? Harold Pinter Theatre, London, until 11 February
To book tickets, call Radio Times box office on 0800 096 5878 and quote “Radio Times” or visit radiotimes.com/boxoffice