Wicked queens chase rats up beanstalks to get to the ball in China

THE pantomime season seems to creep up more quickly every year, and just as soon as the echoes of “it’s behind you” fade away, there it is on next week’s diary again.

The vogue for Christmas shows, rather than traditional pantomimes, continues but shows no real sign of overtaking the old favourites.

The first seasonal show in our region this year is Hetty Feather at Southampton’s Nuffield. As the management is preparing not just for the (so far unnecessary) rebranding, but the opening of their new venue in the city centre, the theatre on the university campus is staging the adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson’s story of an orphan and her life in the circus.  It’s the original production from the Rose Theatre in Kingston-upon-Thames, directed by Sally Cookson with music by Benji Bower. It’s been in the West End and on tour, and will be again in the new year. See it at the Nuffield  until 7th January.

The most popular story this year is Aladdin, with three versions, at Weston super Mare Playhouse from 9th to 31st December, Bristol Hippodrome from 9th December to 7th January and at Wimborne Tivoli from 15th December to 1st January.

There are two chances to see Snow White and her 14 dwarfs, at Bath Theatre Royal from 7th December to 7th January and at Southampton Mayflower from 15th December to 7th January.

There are also two versions of the most popular panto of them all, Cinderella, on stage at Yeovil Oct­a­gon (pictured)  from 8th December to 7th January and Poole Lighthouse from 8th December to 6th January.

Bristol Old Vic again turns its historic back on trad panto, presenting Emma Rice’s The Little Match Girl and other Happier Tales from 30th November to  14th January.

There is also the now-familiar pantomime version of Peter Pan, (pictured) on at Plymouth Theatre Royal from 15th December to 13th Janu­ary.

Bristol Tobacco Factory’s Christ­mas show is Beauty and the Beast, from 30th November to 14th Janu­ary, and Exeter Northcott returns to traditional pantomime with the only regional Dick Whittington (pictured left) of the season, from 2nd December to 7th January.

Whatever you decide for your Christmas delectation, remember that this will probably be the first time your children/grandchildren will ever see live theatre. If you would like them to discover the magic of performance away from the “device” or the television, now’s the time to make the step!