Hologram’s Catherine Vonledebur digs into the Christmas stockings to find the best festive shows in and around Rugby.


Christmas Pantomimes and festive films in Rugby


It’s a Wonderful Life, Rugby Theatre, Dec 16 & 17wo-wonderful-life

Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart, marks its 70th anniversary. The 1946 Christmas perennial about a suicidal man whose guardian angel shows him what life would have been like had he never been born, is brimming with memorable lines and indelible moments. Catch it on the big screen.


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Rugby Theatre, Dec 17wo-wonker

Much-loved Willy Wonka actor Gene Wilder died at his Connecticut home on August 29 earlier this year aged 83. Roald Dahl famously didn’t approve of Wilder as the eccentric sweetmaker; he wanted Spike Milligan. Despite this the pop-art design, catchy musical soundtrack and Wilder’s enigmatic performance remains a children’s cult classic.


Aladdin, The Benn Hall, Newbold Road, Rugby, Dec 29 & 30aladdin-300

See magic lamps, flying carpets and genies galore in this festive family panto by Rugby’s Five Star Theatre. Performance times: Thursday Dec 29 -7 pm; Friday Dec 30 – 2 pm & 7 pm www.bennhall.com


Dick Whittington, Rugby Theatre, Jan 13 – 22 2017wo-dick-whit-rug

A traditional show from Rugby Theatre in the New Year.



10 seriously festive shows in Warwickshire and beyond:

Where’s the best pantomime in Warwickshire this Christmas? It’s behind you! Oh no, it isn’t. It’s in the Hologram panto guide below. 

Beauty and the Beast, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, until December 31wo-beauty-beast

As well as putting on Dick Whittington at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre’s, Imagine Theatre is staging Beauty and the Beast at the Spa Centre with JP McCue as Dame Dolly Do-It and Carly Burns as Beauty.



The Tempest, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until 12 Jan

Jenny Rainsford, above – Boo in BBC3’s very funny feminist sitcom Fleabag – plays Miranda to Simon Russell Beale’s Prospero. The RSC’s innovative digital special effects have been much written about with Ariel as a computer-generated avatar. Judge for yourself their impact.



The Rover, The Swan, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Feb 11 2017wo-rover

Aphra Behn’s Restoration drama has been described as a “randy siesta laced with innuendo” as three cavaliers encounter three freedom seeking women. Perfect for adults seeking an alternative to panto season. ‘Its Spanish carnival setting, good humour and sheer sexiness will, I suspect, make it one of the RSC’s most popular hits’ – The Guardian.



Dick Whittington, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Jan 7 2017dick-whittington-305

Former children’s TV presenter and Tweenies creator Iain Lauchlan has great fun bringing this rags-to-riches adventure to life without any big-name stars. He is on good form as Sarah the Cook while Melone M’Kenzy is a blast as soulful villain Queen Rat.



Private Dick Whittington, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until December 31wo-private-dick

Nick Walker’s third alternative adult panto running in conjunction with Dick Whittington on the main stage, is a 50s-film noir spoof loaded with so many bad jokes it’s, excuse the pun, ‘ri-dick-ulous’.



Stick Man, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, until Saturday Dec 31wo-stick-man

And for little ones Scamp Theatre & Freckle Productions 55-minute adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Schefflers delightful book has won the approval of critics. It was described by Time Out as “wonderfully exuberant and imaginative”. For ages 3+



The Nutcracker, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome, until Tues Dec 13


Sir Peter Wright’s stunningly beautiful Christmas classic returns to the stage like a painter’s giant canvas. Highlights include a Christmas tree that bursts through the wall revealing huge branches as the dancers appear to shrink into miniature toys and a breath-taking flying snow goose.



Treasure Island, Birmingham Rep, until January 7 2017wo-treasure-island

Bryony Lavery’s hit National Theatre version transfers from London to Birmingham. Sarah Middleton plays a female Jim – well, Jemima – in this well-received adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel.



Dick Whittington, Birmingham Hippodrome, Dec 19 – Jan 29 2017wo-dick-whit-birm

One of the more unusual panto line-ups with John Barrowman as a middle-aged Dick Whittington, The Krankies, Jodie Prenger –and EastEnders’ Phil Mitchell as the baddie…



Jack and the Beanstalk, Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton, Dec 9 – 31wo-jack-bean

Former boyband singer Simon Webbe from Blue teams up with previous Wellingborough-born Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashleigh Butler as Princess Apricot with her canine sidekick Pudsey.


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