What’s On in Yorkshire - December 2013

Michela Paolacci as Cinderella, Northern Ballet

Michela Paolacci as Cinderella, Northern Ballet - Credit: Archant

A guide to the best of Christmas entertainment around the county chosen by Tony Greenway


December 10th - January 5th

Edith in the Dark

Here’s a show that’ll make you jump out of your Christmas bonnet. The plot has writer Edith Nesbit (of The Railway Children fame) in her attic room with a young male guest and her loyal housekeeper, reading scary stories out loud (Nesbit was a horror writer as well as a children’s author). But as the trio breathe life into these terrifying tales, all is not as it seems — and one of them is hiding a deadly secret. Gulp.

Harrogate Theatre 01423 502116 harrogatetheatre.co.uk

December 6th – January 11th

Most Read

Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas

Seriously, who’d be Father Christmas? You have to do all your work, in fairly horrendous blizzard conditions, all in one night. All those chimneys, all that sherry – and all those bloomin’ carrots for Rudolf. This version of Raymond ‘The Snowman’ Briggs’ fantastic tale, which was published 40 years ago, uses song, live music and puppetry. Just right for children aged two – six, then.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds 0113 213 7700 wyp.org.uk

December 16th – 29th

Beauty and the Beast

There is, as I have said before, no getting away from children’s playwright Mike Kenny, who scored a big hit with Blood + Chocolate in York back in October. Here he presents an imaginative re-telling of the much-loved fairytale to delight family audiences.

Assembly Room Barnsley 01226 327 000 barnsleycivic.co.uk

December 9th - 29th


Um... it’s Mike Kenny, again. This time he’s written a show that’s perfect for children aged three and above, produced in association with tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal, that takes some liberties with the original tale. ‘With fairy stories, at some level, even the smallest children will know a version,’ Mike told me. ‘So I have a responsibility to give them something they recognise but, theatre being theatre, you have to play with that, too, because otherwise it’s predictable and boring.’ And this is anything but...

Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield 01484 430528 thelbt.org

December 14th – January 4th

The School Mistress

A frantic seasonal court farce from Arthur Wing Pinero about the mayhem surrounding the principal of a ladies’ college. This production is directed by the SJT’s Chris Monks.

Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough 01723 370541 sjt.uk.com

November 29th - December 28th

Beauty and the Beast – A Space Adventure!

The team who brought you Cinderella, The Nutcracker Prince, and The Hunt for the Scroobious Pip are back at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, this time taking a classic Disney tale into outer space. Faced with mounting debt and a shortage of food, the space junk dealer known as Mother Ship has to leave her three sons to go on a dangerous space mission for a mysterious stranger.

But when Mother Ship crash lands on a floating space garden and encounters a strange creature, her bargaining skills are sorely tested and she finds out the price she must pay for picking the creature’s flowers is to give away her son, Beau.

Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough 01723 370541 sjt.uk.com


December 12th – November 30th

Aladdin and the Twankeys

Berwick’s back (Berwick Kaler, that is) with his traditional Yorkshire panto that everyone in the North wants to see (it sells out as soon as tickets go on sale). There are no ‘stars’, as such — so there’s an absence of Hollyoaks-style celebs cluttering up the stage — although Berwick is a famous face from TV and you’ll have seen his supporting players before in various productions (Martin Barrass, for example). Yet the lack of cheesy celebs doesn’t matter when the cast is this good and the production values speak for themselves. Watch out for the Wagon Wheels and the bottle of Newcastle Brown... and, hopefully, another classic filmed portion of the show.

York Theatre Royal 01904 623568 yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

December14th - January 26th


Bradford pantomime king Billy Pearce returns to the Alhambra Theatre as Aladdin, joined by X Factor star Chico, as Slave of the Ring. With hilarious acrobatics from the Acromaniacs as the Chinese Policemen and sensational special effects, including a very fabulous genie and spectacular flying carpet, this year’s Bradford pantomime will make all your wishes come true.

Alhambra Bradford 01274 432000 bradford-theatres.co.uk

December 5th – January 5th

Jack and the Beanstalk

Christopher Biggins and Keith Harris star in this family favourite, add some spectacular scenery including a larger than life beanstalk as well as beautiful costumes, sprinkle some Christmas glitter and you have great entertainment for all the family.

New Theatre Hull 01482 300300 hullcc.gov.uk

December 12th - January 1st


Strictly Come Dancing professional Camilla Dallerup is busy turning pumpkins into sparkling coaches and making sure the glass slipper fits the right girl when she puts on the wings of Fairy Godmother in this traditional family pantomime.

The Spa, Bridlington 01262 678258 thespabridlington.com

November 22nd – January 12th

Sleeping Beauty

Hello boys and girls. It really is that time of year again (oh yes it is and do try to be more enthusiastic). In Harrogate, that means Phil Lowe and David Bown teaming up for Harrogate Theatre’s perfectly traditional seasonal family pantomime.

Harrogate Theatre 01423 502116 harrogatetheatre.co.uk

December - 6th-January 5th

Jack and the Beanstalk

The hilarious Damian Williams is the Dame in this production written and directed by Paul Hendy. With stunning sets, comedy, audience participation and breathtaking special effects (there’s even a break-dancing pantomime cow!), Jack and the Beanstalk promises to be the Lyceum’s funniest and most spectacular pantomime ever!

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield 0114 249 6000 sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

November 30th - January 18th

Jungle Book

Not strictly a panto but still a magical Christmas show at the WYP, based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories and cleverly mixing live music with puppetry. It’s directed by Liam Steel, whose recent work includes the musical staging and choreography for the film version of Les Miserables. Don’t go expecting songs from the Disney version but do prepare yourself for what promises to be a wonderful night at the theatre.

West Yorkshire Playhouse 0113 213 7700 wyp.org.uk


December 17th -January 4th


This is a brand new production from Northern Ballet which has its premiere at the Leeds Grand this month. The story is set in Imperial Russia at a time when superstitious people believe in the possibility of magic. Northern Ballet’s adaptation of this classic fairytale sees heartbreak turn to joy as the unstoppable power of young love conquers all. Directed and choreographed by artistic director David Nixon.

Leeds Grand Theatre Leeds 0844 848 2700 leedsgrandtheatre.com


December 6th

Tinie Tempah

Tempah, tempah. The British rap star has a new album out called Demonstration, so he’s out on national tour again. Even if rap isn’t your cup of tea, Tinie, as a person, is extremely hard to dislike, although as he’s young, talented and good-looking we have tried. Obviously.

First Direct Arena Leeds 0844 248 1585 firstdirectarena.com

December 10th


Did you know that JLS stands for Jack the Lad Swing? Mind you, I got that bit of information from Wikipedia, so have no way of knowing if it’s right or not. I do definitely know this, though: JLS — Marvin, Aston, JB and Oritsé — first became properly famous when they entered The Simon Cowell Show (or The X Factor, as we believe it’s called) years ago... and they didn’t even win. Yet the success that’s followed has been on the huge side. Now, though, they are doing the decent thing and calling it a day and these are their final concerts. One Direction, please, PLEASE take note.

Motorpoint Arena Sheffield 0114 256 5656 motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk also December 20th First Direct Arena Leeds 0844 248 1585 firstdirectarena.com

December 11th

Kate Rusby at Christmas

A rather fine pressie to find under your tree. The Barnsley lass with the ethereal voice has a new album out (called 20) but here she is doing the festive touring rounds again with her band and a brass quintet to sing the Christmas carols she learned as a child. ‘Exquisite interpretations of traditional material from the pocket-sized folk singer with the heartbreakingly tremulous voice and bawdy Yorkshire wit.’ — The Telegraph

Sheffield City Hall 0114 2 789789 sheffieldcityhall.co.uk also December 12th Leeds Town Hall 0113 224 3801 leedstownhall.co.uk also December 21st Huddersfield Town Hall 01484 223200 kirklees.gov.uk

December 5th

Deacon Blue

This will make you feel old. Deacon Blue — you know, Scottish band with Ricky Ross on lead vocals — released their debut album back in 1987. Despite a string of Top 40 singles (Fergus Sings the Blues, Dignity, Real Gone Kid, Chocolate Girl, Wages Day) they were never in the megaband league of Simple Minds or U2. But were they good? Yes, of course they were. And here they come again, refomed, reloaded, re-energised and with new material, to boot. And yes, BBC1 presenter fans, that IS Dougie Vipond on the drums.

Sheffield City Hall 0114 2 789789 sheffieldcityhall.co.uk

December 17th

An Albion Christmas

Christmas cheer from The Albion Band with Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention), Kellie While, Simon Care (Edward II) and Ashley Hutchings (Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span) in the line-up. A guided tour of the traditional Christmas customs of Britain with a seasonal mix of carols, spoken word, humorous readings and dance.

Royal Hall Harrogate 01423 502116 harrogatetheatre.co.uk

December 6th – 15th

York Early Music Christmas Festival 2013

Performers this year include Brecon Baroque directed by violinist Rachel Podger, vocal ensemble Alamire and The Sixteen performing (among other things) Britten’s Ceremony of Carols in York Minister. For the full line-up, go to the National Centre for Early Music website. Various venues 01904 658338 ncem.co.uk

December 28th

A Viennese Whirl

New Year wouldn’t be New Year without a bit of Strauss to liven up the proceedings so this Opera North event at the Harrogate Royal Hall is a bit of a must. BBC presenter Mark Forrest is your compere, the conductor is Jac van Steen and Sarah Tynan is the soprano.

Huddersfield Town Hall

01484 223200


also December 29th Leeds Town Hall 0113 224 3801 leedstownhall.co.uk also December 30th Royal Hall Harrogate 01423 502116 harrogatetheatre.co.uk


Until January 26th

Matthew Darbyshire: WA Ismay Collection

The late librarian and collector William Albert Ismay lived in Wakefield and kept one of the world’s biggest and most significant collections of 20th century ceramics in his small terraced house (even the bathtub was used as a display shelf). In this installation, Darbyshire, a former student of acclaimed sculptor Phyllida Barlow, ‘reframes’ and ‘re-contextualises’ Ismay’s incredible collection.

The Hepworth Wakefield 01924 247360 hepworthwakefield.org

Until March 30th

Albert Wainwright

While Henry Moore has been rightfully lionised as an artistic giant, Albert Wainwright, his artistic Castleford-born friend, drifted into obscurity. This is the first exhibition of Wainwright’s work in 30 years, and features thousands of watercolours, sketches, drawings, painted ceramics, illustrations, costume and set designs.

The Hepworth Wakefield 01924 247360 hepworthwakefield.org


December 14th & 15th

Russell Brand: Messiah Complex

He’s the comedic verision of Marmite: you either love Russell B with his flouncy pirate attire, cascading tresses, wide vocab and Essex diction or you think of him as that irritating bloke who left annoying messages on Andrew Sachs’ answerphone and then departed the BBC under something of a cloud. If you’re the former, you’ll have tickets already, no doubt.

St George’s Hall Bradford 01422 375447 bradford-theatres.co.uk

December 6th

Sarah Millican

There’s currently no stopping the South Shields comic; tickets for Millican’s stage show are selling out quicker than you can say ‘she also has a hit series on BBC2’. Her delivery, meanwhile, is disarmingly gentle but her material, especially on stage, isn’t for granny (unless your granny has a filthy mind, of course). The Guardian called Millican ‘an iron fist in a Marigold glove’. Not surprisingly it comes with a warning: not suitable for the under 16s.

St George’s Hall Bradford 01422 375447 bradford-theatres.co.uk

December 12th & 13th

Christmas Comedy Cellar

Two nights of ho-ho-ho hilarity with a festive sprinkling with Smug Roberts as seen on Phoenix Nights, That Peter Kay Thing, Cold Feet and the Ken Loach film Looking for Eric. Sublime as a storyteller, Smug is a headline act all over Britain able to provoke peals of laughter with a quirky colloquialism or a nonplussed expression. Also on stage is Peter Antoniou fresh from his acclaimed Edinburgh Festival show Comedium.

Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield 01484 430528 thelbt.org


December 1st December 7th & 8th December 14th & 15th December 21st & 22nd

Santa Specials

It’s Santa’s grotto... but on rails. Included in the price of the ticket is a hot or cold drink, with a cream liqueur available for accompanying adults, and mince pie plus all children receive a present from the man himself. Gorgeous scenery outside the window comes as standard.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway 01751 472508 nymr.co.uk

December 5th 3pm until late

W Hamond host Grand Opening Event

Award winning British Jeweller, W Hamond celebrate the opening of the boutique in the prestigious Victoria Quarter. Guests will be treated to glasses of bubbly and delicious canapés courtesy of FIlmore & Union (also located in the Victoria Quarter) and will be in with a chance of winning £500 to spend in store.

W Hamond

10 Queen Victoria Street Victoria Quarter, Leeds, LS1 6BE