‘TIS the season for pantomime as three start at the same time amid a glut of Christmas shows, from kitchen disco to classic rock, as Charles Hutchinson reports.
York pantomimes at the treble: Rowntree Players in Cinderella, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today until next Saturday, except Monday; Jack And The Beanstalk, York Theatre Royal, until January 7 2024; Robinson Crusoe & The Pirates Of The River Ouse, Grand Opera House, tonight until January 6
ROWNTREE Players “rollicking pantomime” director Howard Ella is joined in the writing team for the first time by comic Gemma McDonald, who will be playing Buttons alongside Sara Howlett’s Cinderella, Laura Castle’s Fairy Flo and the baddie trio of Marie-Louise Surgenor’s Wicked Queen, York ghost walk host Jamie McKeller’s Cassandra and Michael Cornell’s Miranda.
York Theatre Royal’s fourth collaboration with Evolution Productions goes green with Nina Wadia’s Fairy Sugarsnap and CBeebies’ James Mackenzie’s villainous Luke Backinanger joining returnee Robin Simpson’s Dame Trott, Anna Soden’s Dave the Cow, Mia Overfield’s Jack and Matthew Curnier’s very silly Billy in Jack And The Beanstalk.
Dowager dame Berwick Kaler tackles Robinson Crusoe for the first time in his 43rd York panto and third at the GOH. Jake Lindsay takes the title role alongside the Ouse crew’s regulars, Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or 01904 501935 (last few tickets); yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or 01904 623568; atgtickets.com/york.
Debut of the week: The Elves And The Shoemaker Save Christmas, Pocklington Arts Centre, until December 16
WRITER Elizabeth Godber and director Jane Thornton are at the helm of Pocklington Arts Centre’s inaugural in-house production: the children’s story of Jingle, Sparkle and Daredevil Dave, who have gingerbread to cook, peas to find and shoes to make. But who gives the Elves their Christmas? Surely they too deserve a break? Dylan Allcock, Jade Farnill and professional debut-making Matheea Ellerby star. Show times and tickets: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Yuletide on the dancefloor: Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Christmas Kitchen Disco, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm
WHAT began as a lockdown online sensation from Sophie Ellis Bextor’s kitchen turned into her 2022 Kitchen Disco tour. Now she follows up Cooking Vinyl’s June release of her seventh studio album, Hana, with her Christmas Kitchen Disco tour for 2023. Hits from throughout her career will be combined with festive classics, served in her seasonal disco style. Tickets update: Sold out. Could be murder on the dancefloor to acquire one now. Box office for returns only: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Homecoming for Christmas: Mostly Autumn Christmas Show!, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm
BEFORE heading off to Belgium and the Netherlands next week, York classic rock band Mostly Autumn play a home-city Christmas show heavily influenced by 1970s’ progressive rock, trad folk and, increasingly, contemporary influences after 28 years together led by guitarist Bryan Josh.
Meanwhile, York folk-covers, busker rock’n’roll troupe Hyde Family Jam have sold out both Thursday and Friday’s Christmas Party gigs, but tickets are available for Tuesday’s 7.30pm double bill of folk trio The Magpies and York singer-songwriter Dan Webster. Box office: thecrescentyork.
Tribute show of the week: Bootleg Beatles, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm
PERFECT timing for the Bootleg Beatles to return to York this Christmas with their nostalgic whirlwind trip through the Fab Four Sixties, after the reissue of the ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ compilations and especially the chart-topping renaissance of Now And Then.
And yes, that reactivated ghost of a John Lennon song will feature in a set combining the then and the now as Steve White’s Paul, Tyson Kelly’s John, Steve Hill’s George and Gordon Elsmore’s Ringo re-create the sound and look of each Beatles’ phase in fastidious detail, accompanied by a brass and string orchestra. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Mouse in the house: A Townmouse Christmas, Fairfax House, Castlegate, York, until January 7, 10.30am to 4.30pm, last entry 4pm
FAIRFAX House’s 2022 festive exhibition, A Townmouse Christmas, returns this winter with double the magic and double the mice, causing even more mayhem and mischief amid the Georgian Christmas festivities.
Hundreds of merry mouse guests can be spotted swinging from the ceiling and bursting out of drawers as they play among the 18th century décor, festive foliage and displays of Georgian Christmas traditions. Tickets: fairfaxhouse.co.uk.
Busiest company of the week: York Stage presents Santa’s Sing-a-Long, Wednesday to December 23; Festive Feast, December 15, 16, 19 to 22, 8pm, both at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York
JOIN Mr and Mrs Claus in their busy home as they prepare for the big day, entertaining children with 45 minutes of sing-a-longs, Christmas stories, interactive wonderment and Christmas songs aplenty. Santa has a Christmas book for every child to take away to read on Christmas Eve. Show times and tickets: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
At night, York Stage vocal talent, accompanied by Adam Tomlinson and his band, dishes up a Festive Feast of Christmas songs, ranging from the traditional to modern pop, plus lashings of musical theatre favourites.
On song will be Katie Melia, Jess Main, Tracey Rea, Matthew Clarke, Cyanne Unamba-Oparah, Carly Morton, Finn East, Jack Hooper, Hannah Shaw, Stuart Hutchinson and York Stage debutant Jess Parnell. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Christmas in full swing: Down For The Count, Swing Into Christmas, Royal Hall, Harrogate, December 16, 7.30pm
MIKE Paul-Smith trained as a doctor but is now principal conductor of London vintage orchestra Down For The Count, specialists in bringing jazz’s Swing Era back to life, in this case with a festive focus.
Paul-Smith and arranger Simon Joyner re-create the music of Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and many more in a luscious 30-piece orchestral setting, evoking Capitol Studios recordings. Cue original arrangements of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) and It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, alongside Let’s Face The Music And Dance and S’Wonderful. Box office: 01423 50211 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.
Reopening of the week: Victorian Christmas at York Castle Museum, Eye of York, until January 7 2024
YORK Castle Museum’s Victorian Kirkgate street has reopened for a magical Yuletide experience full of activities and performances for all ages.
Highlights include Chris Cade’s Scrooge shows; a Victorian green-clad Father Christmas; carol singing on Sundays, and Janet Bruce and Cassie Vallance’s Story Craft Theatre bringing cute Museum Mice to life with puppets, games and family fun, followed by a craft activity on several weekdays. To book tickets: https://beta.yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk/york-castle-museum/admission-tickets