Welcome to Christmas in Theatreland! If you’re unfeasibly excited, up to your eyeballs in wrapping paper and overdosing on eggnog, you’re not alone. The nights may be long and skies dark and gloomy, but fear not – the lights of Theatreland burn bright at this time of year. You’re not short of choices either – White Christmas, The Snowman, Slava’s Snow Show…it’s quite possible to see a different Yuletide favourite on each of the twelve days of Christmas.
I feel like I should be wearing wings and hovering above a stable for this bit, for I bring glad tidings of great joy to you and all mankind – the arrival of a new star in the West End sky. There’s a certain shudder of fearful anticipation in theatre circles when it’s announced that a celebrity is cast in a much loved show; for every Catherine Tate (currently wowing in Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory), there’s a Caprice Bourret (who mimed her way through so much of Rent that she became known as Marcel Marceau). So I’m delighted to report that Nicole Scherzinger is a whole different proposition – her acting is good and boy, can she sing!
Nicole, perhaps most famous for a stint alongside Simon Cowell on X Factor, joins a cast of West End singers and dancers for a much anticipated revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. We’re not sure it really needed reviving, but it’s keeping that wonderful old beast, the London Palladium warm and toasty over Christmas, so who’s complaining? It’s somewhat ironic that the Palladium only became available following the premature flop of Cowell’s own show, I Can’t Sing.
A word of caution – if you’re booking to see Cats this Christmas or New Year, it’s worth noting that Scherzinger doesn’t perform in every show.
Nicole appears until 7 February 2015 except at performances on 30, 31 December 2014 and 1 January 2015, subject to illness, diva moments, catsorcisms, and arguments with Lewis Hamilton.
If a load of mangy old cats wailing about in a giant litter tray isn’t your thing, here are a few other ideas to brighten up the Christmas Break:
FASCINATING AIDA AT THE SOUTH BANK
Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman are a comedy-cabaret trio with three Olivier Award nominations, three national tours and over ten million YouTube hits for ‘Cheap Flights’ (their infamous anthem to budget travel).
Fascinating Aida are cabaret royalty whose alumni include Russell Churney and Issy Van Randwyck. The show is filled with topical concoctions hot off the stove, along with treasured old jewels. Like a magnificent Stilton, these ladies just improve with age.
Charm Offensive, the fabulously decadent show from Fascinating Aida, returns to Queen Elizabeth Hall From 1st – 11th January 2015.
FROST FAIRS AND FROZEN FINGERS
Between the 17th and early 19th Centuries, the magnificent river Thames regularly froze, giving birth to London’s magical Frost Fairs. It’s been a long time since anyone could walk on the Thames (barring Jesus or possibly David Blaine), but it’s still possible to continue the festivities courtesy of the southbankcentre’s wonderful winter festival.
Also on the Southbank, sandwiched between the Royal National Theatre and Borough Market, if Christmas is incomplete without a really good story told by candlelight you may still (if you’re very lucky) be able to snap up a ticket for Winter’s Tales:
Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey) reads Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Lady with the Little Dog’, Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) brings life to ‘The Garden Party’ by Katherine Mansfield and Roger Allam will read ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’ by DH Lawrence. These and more are all read by romantic candlelight in the Globe’s magnificent new indoor theatre, The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!