The Puppet Panto that goes wrong

BRIDPORT’s Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company brings a unique homegrown pantomime, Puppet Panto, to the town’s Electric Palace from 28th to 31st December. When a group of puppets put on a show, how will they cope when everything starts to go wrong? What will they do to make sure the show can go on? Can…

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Show of Hands at Christmas

SHOW of Hands coms to the Electric Palace at Bridport on Saturday 21st December for a special Christmas show, with new songs, new sounds and harmonies. The original Show of Hands duo, singer and songwriter Steve Knightley and multi-instrumental virtuoso Phil Beer, are reunited for this concert with long-term collaborator, double bass player Miranda Sykes…

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The Tailor of Gloucester, Salberg Studio at Salisbury Playhouse

BEATRIX Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester is the perfect story for a Christmas show, and Gareth Machin has adapted it for the studio, where it runs until 28th December. It’s not one of her best-known tales, but it is all about a poor tailor who must make a special coat for the Mayor, in just…

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Octagon Theatre Yeovil

PANTOMIME is a peculiarly British phenomenon, so when Crewkerne boy, Octagon favourite and successful actor and singer Thom Ford introduced his American wife Kathryn Nash to the genre, it was only natural for the versatile Texas-born actress to give it a go. She’s a perfect Snow White in Thom’s favourite theatre in Yeovil this year,…

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Living Spit tiptoes into ballet

THE multiple talents of Howard Coggins and Stu McLoughlin are well-known from their inventive Living Spit performances, but this Christmas the fearless pair are tackling classical dance, to bring their own version of the world’s favourite ballet, Swan Lake, for three Artsreach dates, from 13th to 15th December. Working with Somerset-based Theatre Orchard – and with…

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Robin Hood at Salisbury Playhouse

THIS year the posters advertising Christmas shows are  jostling for space with those pushing candidates for a general election.  Both have their  pantomime elements, but if it’s fun, good humour, slick jokes, colourful costumes and a large dose of love that you want, I’d suggest Salisbury Play­house’s Robin Hood. It’s Good Good Good! It was…

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Snow White, Tobacco Factory Bristol

IF you want the perfect alternative Christmas show, look no further than Bristol’s Tobacco Factory, where a wonderful new version of Snow White is on stage until 19th January. Adapted by Mike Tweddle and the company, and directed by Alex Byrne, it manages that gargantuan challenge of being woke, politically aware, plant-based and very, very…

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The Art of Tristram Hillier at the Museum of Somerset

THE winter exhibition at the Museum of Somerset at Taunton is a retrospective of the work of Tristram Hillier RA (1905–1983), one of the most accomplished and distinctive 20th-century British artists. Painting for many years from a base in Somerset, Hillier created pictures in a uniquely intense and memorable style. This first retrospective in more…

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Bruce Munro lights up Messums

THE art of light is taken to magical heights by the Wiltshire-based artist Bruce Munro who has an exhibition of light installations and works on paper, running from 7th December to 26th January 2020 at Messums Wiltshire, at the Tisbury tithe barn. The exhibition is called Time and Place, and there will be an artist’s…

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Busy festive season at Shire Hall

THERE is a busy programme in the run-up to Christmas at Shire Hall Courthouse Museum in Dorchester, with music, carol singing, family activities, workshops, films, Father Christmas and Christmas teas. The popular family film nights, launched last year, are back, on Wednesday 18th December from 4pm. Visitors can bring blankets and pillows and get comfy…

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Moviola in December

AN all-time classic and a new film celebrating the music of The Beatles top the list of films chosen for Moviola screenings in December across this region. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets will be shown at Beaminster, Crowcombe, Beer, West Camel, Westbury-sub-Mendip and Bothenhampton. Kind Hearts and…

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Christmas – fun and behind bars!

CHRISTMAS plays at Dorchester Arts at the Corn Exchange continue continue on Thursday 19th December, when Near-Ta Theatre takes an original look at the season in Christmas.Time. Set in prison where Charlie and Toby are serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the question is why shouldn’t they have a Merry Christmas too? Inventive and hugely…

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Christmas lights with the National Trust

THE long dark nights offer an opportunity to see favourite places literally in a new light. Right through to the New Year, the National Trust has arranged spectacular light shows at some of its finest south western properties, alongside Christmas decorations, games and food in the houses. This year for the first time, the gardens…

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Little Red Riding Hood, Bumblefly at Greyfriars Ringwood and touring

AFTER five years of turn-of-the-year touring, Bumblefly Theatre has built up a tradition of opening on a Saturday afternoon at Greyfriars in Ringwood, and this year is no exception. The 2019/20 show is David Haworth’s new version of Little Red Riding Hood, peppered with the company’s usual selection of fairy stories and folk tales from…

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CinderELLA, Nuffield Theatre City, Southampton

AFTER the triumph of last year’s award-winning Christ­mas show, David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy, the city centre Nuffield Theatre had a hard act to follow, and has sensibly taken a very different approach for the 2019/20 production. This is the world’s favourite pantomime story, Cinderella, but not as you know it.  In Michael Fentiman’s adaptation, which…

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Cabaret songs with Moscow Drug Club

THE seductive music of 1930s Berlin, Parisian Hot Club and gypsy swing come together in the performances of Bristol-based Moscow Drug Club, continuing their December  tour on Tuesday 17th and Thursday 19th at Salisbury Arts Centre, Saturday 21st at Nailsea Tithe Barn and Tuesday 31st at Bristol Old Vic. Moscow Drug Club is a curious…

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Ridgeway Singers and Band at Christmas

CHRISTMAS in Dorset wouldn’t be complete without the festive celebration of the traditional West Gallery songs and tunes by the Ridgeway Singers and Band. This year’s series continues on  on Sunday 15th December at 4pm atSt Christopher’s Church, Winfrith Newburgh (with Artsreach),  and at the Dorford Centre, Dorchester on Friday 20th at 7.30pm. With their…

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Beauty and the Beast, Bath Theatre Royal

PANTOMIME should be all about enchantment and lau­ghter, and you won’t find a more magical or funny example than Jon Monie’s version of Beauty and the Beast, at Bath until 12th January. The script was first performed last season in Black­pool, where it won a new panto of the year award. Now, back on Jon’s…

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Solo Christmas Carol

THERE  is an alternative one-man version of the best-loved Christmas show from Dave Mynne, on a short Artsreach tour, from 13th to 15th December. Multi-talented Dave, a familiar face from Kneehigh Theatre productions, brings his Christmas Carol to Sixpenny Handley Village Hall on Friday 13th December, Shipton Gorge on Saturday 14th and Shillingstone on Sunday…

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A Christmas Carol, Bristol Old Vic

SO successful was last season’s production of A Christ­mas Carol at Bristol Old Vic that they decided to bring it back again for 2019/20, with some new music and a substantially new cast. This time John Hopkins is at its centre, a more vulnerable Ebenezer Scrooge than Felix Hayes’s sonorous curmudgeon last Christmas, and more…

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Festive shopping at Ilminster Arts Centre

IF you are looking for interesting, original gifts for Christmas (or even for yourself), pop into Ilminster Arts Centre at the Meeting House, where the Christmas Collection selling exhibition continues to Saturday 21st December. On show is an array  of jewellery, textiles, glass, ceramics, decorative art and home accessories by leading local makers, selected by…

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Drawn to Craft at Salisbury Arts Centre

SALISBURY Arts Centre always has one of the most interesting and high quality of the winter/Christmas exhibitions. This year’s, Drawn to Craft, until 18th January, features work by some of the top contemporary British Craft practitioners. Drawn to Craft is inspired by drawing and reflects on the drawn line. The exhibition is an opportunity to…

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Stroll with Dorset Wildlife Trust

DECEMBER  with Dorset Wildlife Trust continues with on Monday 30th December, with the Holes Bay stroll, 10.30am to 1.30pm, to view the salt marsh surrounding Holes Bay. Visit to Upton Country park and tearooms. Meet at Upton House car park. Contact Ken Yeates on 07947 141539. Pictured: Geese and other waterfowl on the edge of…

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Gary Cook at The Art Stable and other galleries

ECO-ARTIST Gary Cook has work in several galleries including The Art Stable at Child Okeford, as part of the Christmas collection, from 30th November to 20th December. Gary, who lives near Shaftesbury and is best known for his love of trees and his ability to convey their emotional and environmental importance in his paintings, will…

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Time to Boing! again

SALLY Cookson’s award-winning show Boing! returns to Bristol Old Vic this Christmas, to the delight of younger children and their families. It opened in 2010 in the old studio space, and will now be staged in the newly-created Weston Studio in the historic theatre, running from 29th November to 5th January. Wilkie Branson reprises his…

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Christmas past, present and yet to come

THE music and ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come are brought to life by folk duo GreenMatthews. Their tour continues at Dorchester Corn Exchange on Wednesday 18th December. First published in 1843, A Christmas Carol is credited with reinventing and reinvigorating the British Christmas and has been loved and retold by every…

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Christmas at Tincleton Gallery

THE Christmas show at Tincleton Gallery at The Old School House, in Tincleton, near Dorchester, is a collection of work by gallery regulars, running to Sunday 15th January 2020. The exhibitors are Colin Moore, Philippa Headley, Kim Pragnell, Ruth Ander, Jazmin Velasco, Mary Gillett, and Johannes von Stumm. There are also two guest artists –…

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