Christmas is once again here and we can all (fingers crossed) head on down to the theatre and catch a show or two. Oxford has laugh-filled pantomimes, West End musicals, literary classics, and even a show or two just for adults.
Daily Info has picked out the productions we think you should check out and there really is something for everyone (with even one or two streaming online for those who'd rather enjoy the fun from their sofa).
Panto season is back!
With the return of festive theatre after a pandemic-induced break last year, there's plenty of panto fun to be had!
The Playhouse’s annual endeavour is a much-beloved Oxford institution and this season they take on the swashbuckling fun of Robin Hood. Expect plenty of merry folks in green tights, rambunctious sing alongs, and derring-dos as Robin takes on the wicked Sherriff of Nottingham.
The Chipping Norton Theatre’s panto is Rapunzel, with the long-haired princess teaming up with a roster of characters to escape confinement and burst out into the wide world (a sentiment we can all get behind).
With a cast of familiar faces, the Aylesbury Waterside have gone for some glossy glamour with Cinderella, whilst Dick Whittington tours to the Abbey Cinema in Abingdon, bringing with it songs, special effects, audience participation and, of course, a happily ever after.
Original shows for a young audience
As well as pantos, a number of theatres have original stories aimed at a younger audience. In the BT Studio you’ll find Home in Time For Christmas (suitable for ages 3 to 7), a charming, puppet-filled festive treat. And over in the Pegasus Theatre there’s Margot’s Magical Winter Wonder Party (suitable for ages 4 to 7), mixing physical comedy, original music, and puppetry to celebrate the return of theatre.
Further afield, the Cornerstone Arts Centre have The Ballad of Rudy (suitable 3+). A warm hug of a show as Rudy the Reindeer teams up with a Jazz Penguin for a journey across a musical winter wonderland. And at the Aylesbury Waterside, Santa’s Elves and the Shoemakers (suitable 2+) will be taking over their studio space, and bringing with them a pair of cheeky elves who set out to offer their ‘help’ in making a splendid pair of shoes.
Something for adults, and something for the whole family
And speaking of works of new theatre, the Old Fire Station have in recent years offered something for an older audience. The team behind recent hit Snowflake return with Mike Bartlett’s funny and poignant new play, Mrs Delgado, that tells a story drawn from our very strange 2020 & 21. The theatre will also be livestreaming two performances, so it can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.
And the New Theatre bring a big West End musical, suitable for all, to their stage, with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of the hit film School of Rock.
Classical tales retold
Christmas can often feel like the perfect time to revisit classic literary texts, and there are several shows that offer this. Creation Theatre continue their annual residence at the North Wall Arts Centre, and this year perform a new version of Pinocchio, that transforms the venue into a magical wonderland, for a high energy retelling.
Creation Theatre are also offering a version of A Christmas Carol that can be streamed at home, alongside a three course fillet steak box from Hawksmoor. Dickens’ tale also gets a retelling by Half Cut Theatre (behind the terrifically enjoyable Treasure Island from earlier in the year) who tour to both Oxford and Abingdon.
Worth a trip out of Oxford is the Watermill Theatre’s The Jungle Book. Following on from recent productions of The Prince and The Pauper, Robin Hood, and The Borrowers, this promises to be another sparkling show, filled with live music and a creative take on Rudyard Kipling’s text.
And finally, Opera Anywhere tour a magical double (both sung in English) of Hansel & Gretel and Amahl & the Night Visitors, with dates in Henley and Abingdon.