• Miles Hedley

CHRISTMAS FAMILY FUN in Greenwich, Deptford and online

Updated: Dec 30, 2020


The entertainment sector is in crisis – but the dedicated armies of artists whose work so enriches our lives are determined to carry on regardless, especially with Christmas fast approaching.

As we already know, Covid has forced Greenwich Theatre to postpone its much-lauded annual pantomime till the spring. But artistic director James Haddrell is still managing to offer seasonal family fun with his own production of The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase.

Joan Aiken’s classic children’s novel has been adapted for the stage by Russ Tunney and features original music composed by David Haller.

The show, which runs from 18 December to 10 January, will also feature Greenwich’s favourite panto villain Anthony Spargo and a top-notch young cast that includes Alice De-Warrenne, Cassandra Hercules, Serin Ibrahim, Akshay Khanna and Reice Weathers.

As a companion piece for youngsters who can’t get to a live performance, the theatre is streaming an online and interactive adventure called Sir Willoughby’s Challenge, which will be available between 22 December and 8 January.

And on December 19, there will be jokes, sketches and games galore in the theatre’s brilliant annual Comedy Clubs 4 Kids. For more info about all the Christmas shows, including social distancing rules and how to buy tickets, go to https://greenwichtheatre.org.uk/whats-on/

Just down the road in Deptford, the Albany is staging Stuff & Nonsense’s production of The Man Who Wanted To Be A Penguin from 5-23 December.

It’s the story of an Antarctic explorer who even teaches himself penguins’ language and artistic director Niki McCretton uses live action, puppetry, music and song to tell its captivating story.

As well as socially distanced family shows, there are special performances for schools and nurseries. More info at https://www.thealbany.org.uk/shows/the-man-who-wanted-to-be-a-penguin/

Covid regulations may mean smaller crowds but they can’t stop people wanting to have communal fun. This year, the Queen’s House will again host a public ice rink - from 5 December 5 to 24 January – in what must surely be London’s most picturesque open-air skating venue. Details at www.rmg.co.uk/skate

Not everyone can get to events in the flesh, however, and two acclaimed theatre companies are offering online entertainments to fill that festive gap.

Polka Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, created by Ian Nicholson and Sam Wilde using mainly recycled Xmas wrapping, lights and decorations, is a free short film which will be available from December 19 for anyone who signs up to the Polka newsletter before Christmas. An audio description by VocalEyes will bring the production to life for blind and visually impaired people through an accompanying audio description. Further info at www.polkatheatre.com

And from now till 5 January, Sleeping Trees are streaming The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington, the story of how Dick and his cat set out to save Christmas after a giant white whale swims into the Thames and swallows Santa Claus. https://www.thesleepingtrees.co.uk/tickets

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