They say Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year, and 2023’s seasonal calendar of things to see and do certainly confirms that claim with a wreath of plays, pantos and more kicking off almost two months in advance of the day itself. Rhiannon Farr has a sackful of festive previews in this first Christmas theatre instalment; look out for the rest in a few weeks’ time…
PLAYS & CABARET
A Welsh-language festive cabaret spectacular featuring performances from Sorela, Hywel Pitts and Divas A Diceds, Cabarela will ring in the festive season with sequins in hand.
November sees London Concertante stop off in Cardiff with their 11-piece band in tow for West End Musicals. Catch some of musical theatre’s finest performers in an evening of greatness, mixing golden classics with new favourites – the cathedral backdrop is an added bonus.
Llandaff Cathedral, Sat 11 Nov. Tickets: from £21.29. Info: here
And in December, RWCMD’s talented musical theatre singers grace the college’s stage for the return of their Christmas On Broadway show.
Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama, Cardiff, Thurs 7 + Fri 8 Dec. Tickets: £16-£18. Info: rwcmd.ac.uk
A Christmas Carol
Ebenezer Scrooge would be rather unhappy with the number of A Christmas Carol adaptations on the Welsh stage this festive season. The Richard Burton Company are performing Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Dickens’ novel in Cardiff. (Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama, Cardiff, Sat 2-Fri 8 Dec. Tickets: £16-18. Info: here)
Meanwhile, actor and writer Jonathan Goodwin is putting on a one-man telling of the story as Dickens himself in Don’t Go Into The Cellar’s A Christmas Carol. (Gwyn Hall, Neath, Wed 6 Dec. Tickets: £12. Info: here)
Swansea-based Harry’s Youth Theatre presents an amateur production of Scrooge The Musical in November… (Grand Theatre, Swansea, Thurs 9-Sat 11 Nov. Tickets: £17. Info: here)
… and Hijinx Odyssey are performing Humbug!, a sequel to the popular tale – this time focusing on Tim Cratchit in a humbug factory. (Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Thurs 23-Sat 25 Nov. Tickets: £11. Info: here)
Finally, touring Wales in November and December is Lighthouse Theatre’s live radio play of A Christmas Carol. (Various venues, Thurs 16 Nov-Sat 9 Dec. Tickets: prices vary. Info: here)
Christmas is prime ballet season and to key you up for it, Classical Ballet & Opera House are bringing an early performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, for one night only, to Swansea. Plenty more where that came from come December, too…
Swansea Grand Theatre, Wed 15 Nov. Tickets: £31-£38. Info: here
Sharks aren’t typically associated with Christmas, but don’t underestimate the staying power of a certain children’s earworm… Oh, No! There’s A Shark In The Snow is based on the children’s books by Nick Sharratt and perfect for the little ones.
Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea, Fri 15-Sat 23 Dec. Tickets: from £11. Info: here.
From lauded kids’ theatre duo Flossy & Boo, Beyond The Blizzard is a family show in which two best friends set out from a little mountain town to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Beyond the blizzard, you might say. A great one for getting into the wintery mood.
The Welfare, Ystradgynlais, Sun 26 Nov. Tickets: pay what you can. Info: here
And finally, A Winter’s Woodland Tale is an original play written by Lynda Dare and performed by Forest Fairy Friends Theatre. Suitable for children of all ages, little ones in the audience will even receive a small gift from Mr Claus himself!
Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, Sun 3 Dec. Tickets: from £8. Info: here
The third annual collaboration between House Of Deviant and Vaguely Artistic, Vaguely Deviant: The Office Christmas Party combines inclusive theatre company Hijinx’s punk, rock, pop, blues and soul band – playing old faves as well as their own originals – with House Of Deviant’s vibrant aesthetic as Wales’ first and only learning disabled drag troupe, using the medium to build confidence, independence and self-esteem for adults who identify as such. Christmas really is coming early with this one…
Cabaret, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Sat 16 Dec. Tickets: from £10. Info: here
An incredible blend of burlesque, drag and circus, the team behind XXXmas Carol and The Lion, The B!tch & The Wardrobe are back and better than ever for their latest Christmas extravaganza. Featuring some of Wales’ fiercest talent, The First XXXmas: A Very Naughty-tivity is a retelling of the usually school-age Christmas story that is truly scandalous – perhaps even sacrilegious. Definitely leave the children at home for this one.
Cabaret, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Tue 5-Sun 31 Dec. Tickets: from £20. Info: here
A rags-to riches family favourite: join Dick and his cat as they travel from Gloucester to London and beyond in search of fortune.
Beauty And The Beast
A literary and cinematic favourite that follows the story of a beautiful woman who helps a cursed, arrogant prince find love and break a curse.
The Riverfront, Newport, Wed 29 Nov-Sat 6 Jan. Tickets: from £15. Info: here
Hansel & Gretel
What would you do if you and your sibling came across a house filled with sweets with a wicked witch as the landlord? (The Welfare, Ystradgynlais, Mon 13 Nov. Tickets: pay what you can. Info: here; Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon, Wed 15 Nov. Tickets: from £10. Info: here; Memo Arts Centre, Barry, Wed 22 + Thurs 23 Nov. Tickets: from £5. Info: here; Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Fri 3 + Sat 4 Nov then Mon 27 Nov-Sat 6 Jan. Tickets: £9.50. Info: here)
A fairytale classic! Join Snow White, seven quirky dwarfs and a talking mirror in a battle against a jealous wicked witch.
Following on the heels of 2021’s Beauty And The Beast, this latest Disney-produced iteration of the panto staple is, of course, also based on the iconic animated movie from the early 90s and certainly not to be missed – it’s been rated five stars worldwide and will be setting up its Cave Of Wonders in the WMC for over a month.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Thurs 7 Dec-Sun 14 Jan. Tickets: from £20. Info: here>
Join Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinker Bell, and the Lost Boys on an adventure to Neverland, battling Captain Hook and embracing the joy of eternal youth.
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Mon 27 Nov-Sat 6 Jan. Tickets: pay what you can. Info: here; Utilita Arena Cardiff, Sat 9 + Sun 10 Dec. Tickets: from £27. Info: here; Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Sat 9-Sun 31 Dec. Tickets: from £22. Info: here
He’s a real boy! Follow Pinocchio’s journey from a wooden puppet to a real boy, learning some valuable life lessons along the way.
Princess Royal Theatre, Port Talbot, Fri 1-Sat 9 Dec. Tickets: from £14.30. Info: here
Puss In Boots
An anthropomorphic cat embarks on daring escapades and outwits enemies, all while wearing the most stylish of footwear.
A rags-to-riches tale wherein a victimised stepdaughter, with the help of her fairy godmother and a giant pumpkin, dazzles in a beautiful ballroom and wins the heart of a prince.
Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare, Fri 1-Sun 10 Dec. Tickets: from £13. Info: here
Personally, I think that sleeping for 100 years and not aging a day is quite admirable, cursed and jealous horned witch…
Theatr Clwyd, Mold, Thurs 30 Nov-Sat 6 Jan. Tickets: from £15. Info: here
Jack & The Beanstalk
Daring Jack grows and climbs a colossal beanstalk, confronts a giant, and discovers a world of adventure and treasure. Definitely the winner of the local gardening competition.
words RHIANNON FARR