WHILE Christmas in Cumbria isn’t exclusively about festive shows and family days out, it’s fair to say they’ve taken over the listings this month.
Every town has its pantomime to enjoy – some featuring familiar faces from TV and music, and others staged by the local amateur groups, but still attracting a strong following year after year.
We’ll take a look at a few options for evening concerts and one-off performances, but here are the seasonal stage shows that are dominating this December.
Cinderella, at The Forum – Wednesday 13th to Saturday 30th December
Cinderella has always dreamed of meeting a handsome prince. After the announcement that Prince Charming will be holding a royal ball, she may get her wish after all! A full professional cast, including Emily Dodd in the title role, is accompanied by a junior ensemble of local dancers.
The Christmas Gift, at the Old Laundry Theatre – Tuesday December 19 to Thursday 21
Theatre Voices Ambleside present The Christmas Gift – a heart-warming, family friendly show that truly captures the kind of Christmas we all long to have. Four famous Christmas stories are magically bound together in this feature packed show with music, storytelling, readings and a visit from Santa Claus himself with gifts and surprises for all the children in the audience.
Sleeping Beauty, at the Sands Centre – Monday December 11 to Sunday 31
For the first time ever this year The Sands’ panto will feature amazing 3D Projection, as well as its usual fantastic live band, stunning set and lavish costumes. Starring Carlisle’s own Lee Brennan as the Prince, and Eastenders favourite Cheryl Fergison as the Wicked Fairy, they’ll be joined by Robbie Dee as the Dame and the hilarious Dean Winters as the Jester.
Aladdin, at The Kirkgate Centre – Saturday January 20 to Saturday 27
Cockermouth Amateur Dramatics Society presents this traditional family pantomime by Ben Crocker. Aladdin is a lad in big trouble: the emperor wants his head off and the evil Abanazar wants him shut up in a dark cave forever. Who can save him?
Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf, at the Brewery Arts Centre – Tuesday December 19 to Sunday 31
A bold and highly theatrical re-telling of the well-known classic tale packed with music, dance and song. The production explores the thrill of adventure and unknown versus the safety and familiarity of the path and how irresistible straying can be, as well as the tension between mankind and nature.
The Secret Garden, at Theatre by the Lake – until Saturday January 13
Much-loved classic children’s book The Secret Garden is given a new lease of life in a stage adaptation. Originally written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this adaptation by Olivier Award-winning playwright Jessica Swale features puppetry and live music set to an original score by Barnaby Race.
The production is directed by Liz Stevenson, associate director at Theatre by the Lake, who directed summer 2017’s smash-hit show Handbagged.
Goodnight Mister Tom, at Theatre Royal – Tuesday December 5 to Saturday 9
Now a modern classic, Michelle Magorian’s wonderfully uplifting tale is brought gloriously to life in this magical stage adaptation by David Wood. Set during the dangerous build-up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows young William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heartwarming friendship with the elderly recluse, Tom Oakley. All is perfect until William’s mother suddenly summons him back to London.
We can’t let the pantomimes take all the glory this month though; for the best festive day out, you can always rely on the Taste Cumbria Christmas event.
Taking over Cockermouth’s Main Street on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10, there will be a giant producers’ market, a hot food court on Main Street with meals and snacks, and fizz and beer at the bar run by Jennings Brewery, as well as loads of family activities and festive entertainment.
There will also be free demonstrations from some of the area’s great cooks and chefs in the Cockermouth Kitchen Company shop on Market Place, with Rich Collingwood, from the famed Cottage in the Wood restaurant in Whinlatter Forest, and Angela Barker, from The Chocolate Cottage in Grasmere, among the names signed up to appear.
One special festive event returns for a second year, and gives singers the chance to perform in one of South Cumbria’s best-known landmarks.
Yule Sing Hoad sees the Sir John Barrow Monument in Ulverston open up for a small-scale concert, with singers lining the winding staircase – it’s said to provide unique acoustics, and is an experience that only a small number of people will ever get to enjoy.
by Karl Steele, CumbriaLive.co.uk