Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Starry, starry nights

The Lyric has high hopes for its glittering final show. And there are festive frolics all over the province




The stars just won't stop twinkling this Christmas! News that Liam Neeson hopes to attend the last-ever performance at the Lyric Theatre has excited great interest in Glinda's Glitter Ball.

That's how the theatre is billing that final performance of its Christmas hit, The Wizard of Oz.

On January 13, there'll be a very special showing, with buckets of celebrity involvement ? and a little deviation from the script.

Glitz and glitter will be much in evidence, with a pre-show drinks reception, surprise celebrity guests on stage (including Dan Gordon, singer Brian Kennedy, Gerard McCarthy, Ivan Little and Marie Jones) a prize auction and a post-show party with the cast.

When superstar Neeson recently met with Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness Stateside, he indicated that he'd like to be part of the fun back in Belfast. He's already recorded the voice of Oz for the Lyric production. Perhaps he'll actually stride the stage of Ridgeway Street one last time?

There are a handful of ruby tickets left for the big event, on sale for £100 each. You never know who you might bump into there! To book, just click your heels three times and phone 9038 1081.

The next best thing to meeting Liam Neeson must surely be an evening in the company of a Christmas elf. Audiences at Down Arts Centre will have that pleasure this evening, when C21 Theatre Company revives its production of The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris.

This evening you can join Crumpet, an out-of-work actor turned Macy's Santaland elf, for an irreverent commentary on our fascination with all things Claus.

If you haven't read Sedaris's account of his time in Santaland, watching actor Stephen Beggs in an elf-suit is the next best thing.

The show lasts just 70 minutes, but has more laughs than a full-length panto. It's suitable for mature elves only, and Crumpet kicks off the fun at 8pm.

Elsewhere, there's festive frolics in theatres all over Northern Ireland. While the Lyric is staging two shows - the fabulous Wizard of Oz, and Grimes and McKee's alternative Christmas show, Bah! Humbug!, they face competition from the Waterfront Studio.

It is packing them in with its story of Sleeping Beauty. Dan Gordon is trainee fairy Nanny McGee, who along with Dr Watt and his good fairies are battling to end an evil curse.

Billed as the 'loudest panto in town', the show features Christmas evergreens Christina Nelson, Tara Lynne O'Neill and Bronagh Taggart as the Good Fairies and Emma Little as the Wicked Fairy.

Round the corner at the Grand Opera House, May McFettridge leads the charge in Cinderella, while up the road at the Millennium Forum, William Caulfield is in charge of laughs in the venue's production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

And there's entertainment, too, at the Old Museum Arts Centre, where Danish company Teatre Patrasket presents the story of Little Red Riding Hood until tomorrow. It's the first time the play has been seen outside Denmark.

The company use two storytellers and a musician to bring this fairy story to life on stage for children of all ages.

Comedy, music, poetry, theatre and storytelling are all accompanied by a banjo, harmonica and songs on the saw. Sounds as though the Waterfront has a bit of competition for that title of 'loudest show in town'!

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