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Christmas arrives in Theatreland

Official London Theatre looks at this year's big Christmas Show, opening this week, along with the rest of this month's theatre.

Official London Theatre looks at this year's big Christmas Show Elf, opening this week, along with the rest of this month's theatre.

Christmas in Theatreland is here. The Oxford Street lights have been officially illuminated. Harrods has opened a pop-up shop in Covent Garden selling all you could possibly need for the Yuletide season and Elf, the new musical based on everyone’s favourite Will Ferrell-led festive film, is spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear at the Dominion Theatre. Oh yes, Christmas is definitely here.

In our eyes that’s no bad thing, as we love a few early Christmas gifts to tide us over until the big Turkey-roasting, present-opening, cracker-pulling day. We love them even more when they come in the form of behind-the-scenes glimpses of what went on at Elf’s London cast recording. From Ben Forster discussing life as Santa’s largest and most useless helper to an insight into the show’s incredible tap numbers, Elf’s latest videos promise more treats than breakfast time at Buddy’s house.

“Christmas is such a magical time of year” may be something of a hackneyed phrase, but this festive season is so hocus pocus-focused it would seem a shame not to use it. Before you ask, no, we’re not talking about Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts I and II, J K Rowling’s new instalment of wizardry that has already sold more tickets than all the Every Flavour Beans ever bought from the Hogwarts Express lunch trolley and the total number of butterbeer pints consumed at the Three Broomsticks Inn during Harry’s lifetime combined (probably). Nor are we referring to Disney’s latest show Aladdin making its way to London’s Prince Edward Theatre next May. Though that’s happening too!

The supernatural happenings that we speak of here are courtesy of two much-loved mind-bogglers who will begin casting their spell over Theatreland this month. The first is a double Olivier Award winner, sometimes known as the master of psychological illusion but more often called Derren Brown. The begoateed illusionist promises “The boldest, most contentious show yet” from his latest one-man offering, Miracle, which begins its run at the Palace Theatre on 11 November prior to that other show about a little known bespectacled wizard.

The second of this month’s enchanting West End offerings comes from Britain’s Got Talent finalist Jamie Raven, who joins a menagerie of intriguingly-named fellows – the Escapologist, the Warrior, the Trickster… you get the gist – for The Illusionists – Witness The Impossible at the Shaftesbury Theatre from 14 November.

Now that we think of it, the magic doesn’t stop there. The National Theatre will be transformed into a Lewis Carroll-inspired from 29 November. If you’re about the techno-speak, the web-inspired title sees the 12-year-old bullied protagonist – Ally – enter a virtual world where she becomes the brave and beautiful Alice.

They’re not magicians, but they may as well be; no normal human beings could conjure a brand new musical every night, surely? Unfortunately the musical-making magic is about to run out, as Showstopper! The Improvised Musical will be creating its final West End show this month. Whether it’s a The Book Of Mormon/Seven Brides For Seven Brothers/Gypsy Kings montage set in the Daily Mail offices – this was the hilarious treat we enjoyed on press night – or (most likely) something entirely different, you’re guaranteed a great night out at the Apollo Theatre from now until 28 November.

Now, we’re not witches, wizards, magicians or illusionists so we can’t wave our wand and magic up a trip to New York for you… not quite. But don’t forget, if you buy tickets to any of the shows we’ve mentioned here, or indeed any of the other productions on offer at or at the TKTS ticket booth in Leicester Square before 26 November, you could win an incredible trip complete with return Virgin Atlantic flights, a three-night luxury hotel stay and Broadway show tickets in this fantastic prize draw.

From witchcraft to TheatreCraft, there’s one more very important date for your diary this month if you’re aged between 16 and 25-years-old and interested in a non-performance career in theatre. A free careers fair offering pretty much everything you could possibly need to know about forging a career in the industry, TheatreCraft will take place at the Royal Opera House on 20 November. Book your place now and on the day you’ll receive one-to-one advice from industry experts, take part in workshops led by top theatre professionals and explore the vibrant marketplace of exhibiting theatres. You can even find out a little more about where it could get you by reading this interview with one of TheatreCraft’s regular attendees.