Theatre has been one of the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most theatres were forced to remain closed for five months during the first lockdown. They were finally allowed to reopen from 15 August, only to have to close again when the second lockdown was put in place.
The theatre industry is reliant on filled seats, and many theatres are unable to operate with social distancing measures in place. According to recent figures, for social distancing to work, an 80 per cent reduction in seats would be required. Most theatres need to sell at least 50 per cent of tickets to break even.
Are London theatres reopening?
For the reasons above, most theatres in the UK have chosen to remain closed for the festive season. The English lockdown was lifted on 2 December. However, the new, stricter tier system has made it difficult for most theatres to reopen before the new year. Theatres in tier one and two areas are being allowed to reopen, but venues in tier three have to remain closed.
However, within the current government guidelines, there are some theatres have reopened since the second lockdown was lifted on 2 December. Pantomimes, in particular, are opening throughout December as usual.
Which London theatres are reopening in December?
5 December 2020 – 10 January 2021
Potted Panto is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, following a world tour and a Las Vegas residency of their Harry Potter parody show. This production squeezes seven pantomimes into one pantomime extravaganza!
It stars West End greats and Olivier award nominees, Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner. The story will take you through some of theatre’s favourite characters: from Dick Whittington, to Cinderella, to Aladdin. If you’re a pantomime fan, this is one you can’t miss!
A Christmas Carol
7 December 2020 – 2 January 2021
The musical adaptation of this classic novel ran for ten years at Madison Square Garden in New York, seen by over five million people. Now, it comes to London with an all-star cast for a limited time only West End run!
The 24-piece London Musical Theatre Orchestra will be providing the music for the show. The main role, Ebenezer Scrooge, will be played by TV and West End legend, Brian Conley. This is the perfect show to bring your family together this festive season.
17 December 2020 – 3 January 2021
If pantomime isn’t your thing, there are still shows out there for you. This classic ballet is back in London for the Christmas season and the perfect place to get festive with your family.
The Nutcracker has been running at the English National Ballet every year since 1950. This new version features some of the best-loved moments from the last 70 years. Thankfully, not even 2020 can stop it. Tchaikovsky’s most famous pieces will be played live, with the most iconic Nutcracker scenes making an appearance.
West End Musical Christmas
17 December 2020 – 20 December 2020
This live concert is the grand finale of Nimax Theatre’s autumn season. It’s a celebration of musical theatre perfect for the Christmas season. And we’ve heard there are some very special guests to be announced soon – so keep your eyes peeled!
‘Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas
21 December 2020 – 3 January 2021
Inspired his bestselling follow-up to This Is Going To Hurt, Adam Kay takes to the stage to bring us surprisingly hilarious tales from the front-lines of the NHS. The show and book are based on his diaries as a former junior doctor. A mixture of comedy and music, his return to the stage is sure to serve you something a little different this Christmas.
The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas
Charing Cross Theatre
8 December 2020 – 23 December 2020
What happens when one of Santa’s elves is afraid of Christmas? In this original musical, elves Figgy and Cupcake try to rediscover the magic of Christmas. For a family-friendly festive treat, this is a great show to put on your list this year.
A Very Movie Christmas
Charing Cross Theatre
21 December 2020 – 23 December 2020
This Christmas feast gives you festive fun from all of the classic Christmas films. The show features songs from The Muppets Christmas Carol, Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and much more! The concert features a three-piece rock band and some exciting surprise guests!
The Vivienne’s Christmas – Up to Snow Good!
21 December 2020 – one night only
The first-ever winner of RuPaul's Drag Race UK is gracing the London stage to give you comedy and Christmas songs, all powered by drag. This show is sure to brighten up your Christmas season!
2 December 2020 – 24 December 2020
This show is suitable for anyone aged two and up, so it’s sure to be fun for the whole family. Each child in the audience also receives a special gift from Santa himself! This show sees Santa search for the perfect Christmas present with the help of one of his trusty elves.
11 December 2020 – 23 January 2021
In the ultimate celebration of British theatre, Dick Whittington and his friends go on an adventure to save the true spirit of London. It features talking animals, great songs and hilarious jokes, all in this updated classic. This show is one-year-only, so definitely one to add to your calendar while you can.
Bill Bailey – Christmas Larks
28 December 2020 – 3 January 2021
One of the UK’s favourite comedians is returning to the London stage, fresh from his stint on Strictly Come Dancing. Bill Bailey combines music and comedy, telling the incredible stories of 20 years as a world-famous comedian. This show is strictly limited to this season – so get your hands on tickets while you can!