The festive season is upon us once more, so deck the halls with boughs of holly (or paper chains and fairy lights) because ‘tis the season to be jolly.
It’s also the season to go and boo a man in a silly hat and laugh with another in a wig, dress and too much rouge, to cheer the handsome hero and feisty heroine, shout ‘oh no you don’t’ and ‘he’s behind you’, and eat a bucket load of sweets.
Panto, that peculiarly British tradition, is alive and kicking in Liverpool and across Merseyside.
And if panto isn’t your thing, there’s also more adult fare on offer this winter – along with some sublime traditional Christmas music.
Here’s my round up of what is on where for Christmas 2017, and how you can get tickets.
The Scouse Nativity – Royal Court
November 24 to January 13
Tickets from £13 – BOOK HERE
Come ‘Ed All Ye Faithful for the greatest story ever told, this year being told at the Royal Court. Although not necessarily faithfully to the original.
It’s Bethlehem 0BC/AD and Terry the Shepherd spots a star in the sky which he thinks he really ought to keep an eye on, in between having a few ales with the other shepherds at the King Herod Arms.
Kevin Fearon writes, Cal McCrystal directs, and The Scouse Nativity stars many of your Royal Court favourites.
Read an interview with the cast
Read a review of The Scouse Nativity
The Little Mermaid – Liverpool Everyman
November 25 to January 20
Tickets £10-£30, family ticket £48-£106 – BOOK HERE
The music is ‘shrimply the best’ and the acting isn’t too fishy either.
The legendary Everyman Rock ‘n’ Roll panto returns in 2017 for another madcap festive season with The Little Mermaid, starring mischief-making panto veterans Francis Tucker and Adam Keast as Princess Pearl and Captain Nemo respectively.
Fellow cast members also include national award-winning, guitar-wielding Tom Connor, Stephanie Hockley as Princess Marina.
Read a review of The Little Mermaid
The Jungle Book – Unity Theatre
December 1 to January 6
Tickets from £9 child, £11 adult and £36 family - BOOK HERE
The Unity always produces imaginative retellings of classic stories for Christmas, and this year is no exception.
The team takes on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, bringing Mowgli, Shere Khan and Baloo to life on the Hope Street theatre stage.
Nina Hajiyianni directs Kevin Dyer’s adaptation, and the show promises music, dance and song as well as a beautiful staging of the children’s favourite.
Read more about The Jungle Book
Read a review of The Jungle Book
Snow White - St Helens Theatre Royal
December 2 to January 14
Tickets from £11 – BOOK HERE
Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to panto we go at St Helens Theatre Royal where Snow White escapes the castle and the clutches of the Wicked Queen and goes to live with seven diminutive diamond miners in the forest.
What will the mirror on the wall, aka none other than Johnny Vegas, have to say about that?
The cast also includes Corrie’s Lucy-Jo Hudson as Snow White, Jack Rigby as the handsome prince, and Lewis Devine as Muddles.
Read an interview with Jack Rigby
Beauty and the Beast – The Black-E
Tickets £12 child, £16 adult, £48 family - BOOK HERE
It’s a tale as old as time. And this year Beauty and the Beast brings some Christmas magic to the Black-E.
The show, from Drops of Light CIC, stars Tori Hargreaves as Beauty, Nick Langmead as the Beast, Ciaran Kellgren as Gorgeous Gaz, and none other than Alan Stocks as Beauty’s dad, Egbert the Inventor.
And the family friendly performance will be staged in the round to offer audiences an immersive pantomime experience.
Read more about Beauty and the Beast
Read a review of Beauty and the Beast
Peter Pan – Epstein Theatre
December 8 to January 7
Tickets £18/£19 adults, £16/£17 concessions and £59/£63 family – BOOK HERE
There will be plenty of swash and buckle when Peter Pan flies in to the Epstein Theatre this season.
Lewis Pryor takes the lead role, and Dane Bowers is his hook-handed piratical nemesis in this production directed and written by the inimitable Michael Chapman – the naughtiest dame in Merseyside panto land.
Claire Simmo, Joanne Harper and Georgia Austin also star, playing Tinkerbell, Wendy and Tiger Lily respectively.
Read an interview with Dane Bowers and Lewis Pryor
Read a review of Peter Pan
Baskerville – Liverpool Playhouse
December 9 to January 13
Tickets £10-£30 – BOOK HERE
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s gripping tale The Hound of the Baskervilles is being brought to life at the Playhouse this Christmas in a show that’s certainly not panto!
Loveday Ingram directs Ken Ludwig’s version of the Sherlock Holmes mystery, with just five actors bringing more than 40 characters to colourful life on the Williamson Square stage.
Join intrepid investigators Holmes and Watson on the misty, mysterious moor for a tale that explodes into life with comic genius, wit and intrigue.
Read an interview with writer Ken Ludwig
Read a review of Baskerville
Peter Pan – Floral Pavilion
December 9 to January 7
Tickets £13.50-£20.50, family £50-£66 – BOOK HERE
The Floral Pavilion is heading for Neverland this Christmas in the company of the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, and a crocodile that tick-tocks.
Peter Pan flies in to New Brighton in the form of Tim Edwards, while the dastardly pirate leader Captain Hook is played by none other than Marc Baylis (aka Corrie’s Rob Donovan).
Will Pan win the battle? Or will he be forced to grow up like other boys?
Mother Goose – The Casa
December 9 to January 13
Tickets £7 adults/£5 children. Book HERE
It’s the oldest pantomime of them all – but the 200-year-old Mother Goose is getting a new take at The Casa in Hope Street this Christmas thanks to Burjesta Theatre.
Join Mother Goose (and her golden egg, Harlequin, Columbine Pantaloon and Clown – and the decidedly odd Oddfish - for a charming slice of seasonal entertainment in perhaps the best-value festive show in town.
Cinderella – Southport Theatre
December 15 to January 6
Tickets £11-£29.90 – BOOK HERE
Ugly Sisters, glass slippers and a novel use for a pumpkin that may or may not have been left over from Halloween.
Sam Kane is appearing as loveable sidekick Buttons in this version of the classic, plus producers are promising ‘the most gruesome twosome in panto land’ as Cinders’ not-so-nice step siblings.
Will Cinderella get to the ball? Will she meet her handsome prince? And will she remember to leave on time?
Cinderella – Liverpool Empire
December 16 to January 7
Tickets £11-£41.50 - BOOK HERE
You shall go to the ball at the Liverpool Empire this season, where the world’s favourite fairytale returns for Christmas.
Qdos Entertainments, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, is behind the show which promises amazing scenery and costumes and massive song and dance numbers.
Jodie Prenger waves the magic wand as the Fairy Godmother, and Prince Charming is none other than Duncan James of Blue. Plus comedian John Evans is the hapless Buttons.
Read a review of Cinderella
Aladdin – Auditorium at Echo Arena
Tickets £12.50-£29.50, £58-£68 family - BOOK HERE
The Auditorium at the Echo Arena will be lighting the way towards Christmas Day with its production of Aladdin.
Collabro’s Michael Auger is starring as the titular hero who risks all in his love for Princess Jasmine (newcomer Jessica Johann). Dean Sullivan plays the evil Abanazer, Ruby Murry is Widow Twankey, and panto favourite Leanne Campbell is the wish-granting slave of the ring.
Sleeping Beauty – The Brindley
December 16 to January 14
Tickets £17 child, £23 adult – BOOK HERE
See what happens when you forget to invite some people to a party?
The classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty is set to enchant audiences at the Runcorn arts centre this festive season.
Presented by Polka Dot Pantomimes, Sleeping Beauty stars Crissy Rock (Benidorm & I'm A Celebrity) as Fairy Nuff, Rebecca Lake as Princess Aurora, Chris Pym as Prince Harry, Robert Squire as Nanny Nora, Charlie Griffiths as the evil fairy Carabosse and local favourite Andrew Curphey as Chester the Jester.
Spirit of Christmas – Philharmonic Hall
December 16-17, 19, 21-23
Tickets £20-£47 – BOOK HERE
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s popular Spirit of Christmas concerts are as much a part of the festive season as mulled wine and mince pies.
Ian Tracey conducts the RLPO, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and the youth choir, while Classic FM’s smooth-toned John Suchet returns as master of ceremonies.
And there’s also a return for the Mexican tenor Jesús León who was such a hit when he appeared five years ago. Feliz Navidad!
Read a review of Spirit of Christmas