The Nutcracker

The Best Shows To Catch This Christmas

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Theatrical highlights from the 2021 festive season

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Planning a festive trip to the theatre? From an orchestra-led screening of Love Actually to a re-staging of a Dickensian classic, here are the best shows to watch this Christmas.

Shows To Watch This Christmas 2021

The Comedy of Errors

Barbican Theatre

The Comedy of Errors

(c) Royal Shakespeare Company

Get in a good giggle this Christmas with The Comedy of Errors at the Barbican Theatre. Directed by comedy master Phillip Breen, this retelling of Shakespeare’s ever popular fairy-tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision is not one to miss this season. The story follows multiple characters: a father who ends up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes hasty proclamations about travel; lonely son searches for his brother, but loses himself in the process; a wife who realises her husband is not the man she thought he was (but rather likes it). The question remains: will anything ever be the same again? Tuesday 16 November —Friday 31 December 2021, barbican.org.uk

Love Actually Live in Concert

Eventim Apollo

Love Actually

There are few things more festive than a viewing of Love Actually, and this version adds a new dimension to the table. Love Actually Live in Concert sees the soundtrack of Richard Curtis’ 2003 film performed live to picture – and fans of the movie know Craig Armstrong’s score is a big part of its magic. Hugh Grant’s legendary dance to The Pointer Sisters’ Jump, the unique performance of All You Need is Love at Kiera Knightley’s wedding, and of course Bill Nighy’s rendition of Christmas is All Around will all be brought to life at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo. 11 December 2021, eventimapollo.com

The Nutcracker

The Royal Opera House

The Nutrcracker

Tristram Kenton

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker, and happily The Royal Ballet’s version returns to the Royal Opera House this November. Set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, this classical production follows Clara and her Nutcracker as they travel to the Land of Sweets. Audiences will be treated to debut performances from Mayara Magri and Anna Rose O’Sullivan as The Sugar Plum Fairy, with Cesar Corrales and Marcelino Sambé taking on the role of The Prince. You’ll also be able to catch a live film relay of the production on 9 December, which will go on to be screened in cinemas across the world from 12 December. 23 November 2021 – 8 January 2022, roh.org.uk

She Loves Me

Crucible Theatre

Based on the story that inspired rom-com classic You’ve Got Mail, hit musical She Loves Me is being staged at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre this season. Set in a picturesque Hungarian town, the feel-good story follows colleagues Amalia and Georg, who clash at work – but, unbeknownst to them, both live for the anonymous love letters they exchange. This version’s cast features Alex Young and David Thaxton as the leads, alongside Adele Anderson, Lewis Cornay and Andy Coxon. 11 December 2021 – 15 January 2022, sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

A Christmas Carol

Nottingham Playhouse and Alexandra Palace

A Christmas Carol, Nottingham Playhouse

Originally scheduled to open in 2021, a brand-new adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will premiere at Nottingham Playhouse before heading to Alexandra Palace for its Christmas run. It’s been adapted by Olivier-award winning Mark Gatiss, who also stars in the play as Jacob Marley alongside Nicholas Farrell as Scrooge. 15 – 20 November 2021 at Nottingham Playhouse; 26 November 2021 – 9 January 2022, christmascarolonstage.co.uk

The Play What I Wrote

Birmingham Rep

Marking 20 years since its premiere and a hugely successful West End run, a new production of The Play What I Wrote is coming to Birmingham. Starring Dennis Herdman, Mitesh Soni, and Thom Tuck, the play follows Sir Kenneth Branagh’s original production in celebrating the iconic duo of Eric and Ernie. Every show features a mystery guest star – previous surprises have included Kylie Minogue, Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Radcliffe. 27 November 2021 – 1 January 2022, birmingham-rep.co.uk

Wolf Witch Giant Fairy

Royal Opera House

Wolf Witch Giant Fairy, Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera’s first fully staged work in the Linbury Theatre since pre-Covid will be a family-friendly production, Wolf Witch Giant Fairy. Created with innovative theatre company Little Bulb, the show will transport audiences to a far-away land complete with enchanted forests and mystical creatures. It’s also the first in a new relaxed style being trialled at the theatre, which allows for noise and movement, re-entry when needed and offers chill-out spaces – perfect for those attending with little ones. 10 December 2021 – 3 January 2022, roh.org.uk

There May Be A Castle

Little Angel Theatre

The home of UK puppetry, Little Angel Theatre in Islington, celebrates its 60th birthday this year. To celebrate, it’s presenting an adaptation of Piers Torday’s much-loved children’s book, There May Be A Castle. Suitable for children aged seven to 11, the story follows Mouse Mallory and his family, who embark on an extraordinary quest in search of a castle – a tale of love, loss and the power of the imagination. 13 November 2021 – 23 January 2022, littleangeltheatre.com

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