Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without pantomimes and London hosts some of the best around. “Pantos” are plays based on popular fairytales retold in an eccentric way (this is England after all!).
They also have certain characteristics: the handsome hero, a pantomime dame (played by a man in drag), the panto horse (one actor as the head and one as the behind!) and lots of audience participation.
So warm up your vocals cords and get ready to cry “It’s behind you!”…
The Hackney Empire, 28th November 2009 – 9th January 2010
The Hackney Empire’s take on pantomimes has a uniquely multi-racial cast and attracts hordes of fans each year; 2009 should be just as popular with the classic story of Aladdin. See brave Aladdin and his magic lamp, flying genies, a singing camel and more delights brought to colourful life onstage.
The Intimate Theatre, 4th – 12th December 2009
Old-school panto Dick Whittington – the tale of Dick, his cat, the rat and the pantomime king – returns this year. It’s being played by the London Pantomimers, one of the oldest panto groups around.
They’ve been staging annual performances since 1944, when the group formed to bring some festive spirit to a city devastated by World War Two.
Why not stay at the Glenlyn Guest House (near Woodside Park tube station in North London) if you’re heading to see Dick Whittington?
It’s the perfect base for budget travellers – one recent TripAdvisor reviewer claimed that “the Glenlyn offers the best value in London”. Beware though that it’s some way from central London on the tube.
Greenwich Theatre, 1st December 2009 – 3rd January 2010
The Greenwich Theatre always holds a hugely popular pantomime and 2009 is no exception. This year sees the staging of the traditional Mother Goose fairytale, with quality writing from scriptwriter Andrew Pollard along with the usual blend of comic mayhem and magical musical performance.
If you need somewhere to stay after the panto, try the nearby Novotel Greenwich – already featured as a handy base to explore the attractions of Greenwich – which is currently in the top 100 on TripAdvisor.
New Wimbledon Theatre, 4th December 2009 – 10th January 2010
Aladdin is also brought to life this year at the New Wimbledon Theatre.
Their take on the much-loved tale is sure to be a highlight of the panto season, not least because Pamela Anderson will be appearing.
And she’ll be joined by a host of other stars of stage and screen, including the larger than life Brain Blessed and panto favourite Anita Dobson.
A great place to stay if you’re going to see Aladdin is the gorgeous Pelham Hotel in South Kensington, which we’ve already featured as a wonderfully cosy boutique hotel with some attractive special offers.
Photo credits: Novotel Greenwich, Glenlyn Guest House, Hoxton Hotel.