There’s something magical about theatre at Christmas. It gives busy families a chance to slow down and enjoy an outing that doesn’t involve the usual busy activities of the season. And Christmas theatre shows usually come with a bit of pixie dust, song and dance, and merriment: the perfect ingredients for an escape during the rush of the holidays.
The season kicks off at Budweiser Gardens in downtown London on November 9th with Elf The Broadway Musical (for one evening only) as part of the Broadway series. This is a live version of the 2003 hit film, Elf. It is the charming story of an orphan, Buddy, who ends up at the North Pole helping make Christmas happen. The production will feature direction by Sam Scalamoni and choreography by Connor Gallagher.
The Grand Theatre in London is the go-to place for a special holiday show. This year, reminding us that “there’s no place like home”, The Grand presents The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. “Dorothy and her friends take us on a journey along the yellow brick road as never experienced before!”
To catch this classic show, follow the yellow brick road down to The Grand from November 22nd to December 31st. Book early because a Christmas trip to The Grand is a long-standing tradition for many people from across the region.
In Port Stanley, country music fans will want to catch Johnny Cash A Country Christmas at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre, with two performances on November 26th. Billed as “interactive theatre” it stars Johnny Cash impersonator Jim Yorfido and the Memphis Cats band. Walk the line over to Port Stanley for some foot stompin’ fun!
For theatrical entertainment of a different type, sports enthusiasts and ballet lovers can team up and attend Christmas Extravaganza on Ice on December 10th at Budweiser Gardens. This combination of world-class figure skating, presented by the Russian company Igor Bobrin Theatre, is billed as a combination of ice dancing, free skate and ballet. It features gold medalists Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin, from the Calgary Olympics. “The production begins with one-act ballet, Cinderella, followed by solo numbers in the second half of the program.”
Cinderella in another form is on stage in St. Jacobs at the Playhouse November 15th to December 24th. Cinderella the Panto is a family-friendly musical, “a clever and contemporary makeover in this glittering stage production”.
The Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia is presenting several holiday-themed shows over the season: Elvis: A Christmas Special on November 24th; Nightingale Chorus, the Spirit of Christmas December 7th to 10th; and Rock n Roll Christmas presented by local musicians December 16th and 17th. Located near the fabulous Lola’s Lounge, any one of these would make a fun date-night dinner and show combination.
But not all on the stages in November and December is jingle bells and good cheer. Those looking for other options might consider checking out The Arts Project in downtown London. The winter season kicks off with Q1 Hamlet, presented by Theatre Studies and the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University.
Billed as “Shakespeare’s Hamlet as you’ve never seen it before” Q1 is the First Quarto of The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, from the earliest printed version of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy. The production features live original music and includes a bonus short Tudor Interlude, John Rastell’s “Four Elements.” Q1 runs from November 9th to 12th.
The London Community Players and the Palace Theatre in Old East Village present two internationally-themed productions in November. Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuiness is situated in Beirut. The story is told by three men being held captive by terrorists. “Each comes to know himself through listening to the stories, sorrows and joys of the others.” It runs November 6th to 12th and 16th to 19th, with a matinee on November 13th.
The Palace then takes us to Russia for the love story of Anton Chekhov and his wife. I Take Your Hand In Mine is based on love letters between the two. It runs November 20th to 26th at 8 pm and there is a matinee at 2 pm on November 27th.
Jane Antoniak is a regular contributor to eatdrink magazine. She is also Manager, Communications & Media Relations, at King’s University College in London.