Tis the season to be jolly? Oh yes it is ...
You can almost hear the sleighbells in the distance, as our theatres roll out the tinsel in preparation for their festive entertainment.
Several venues are adding the final touches to their Christmas crackers — notably the Grand Opera House in Belfast, where May McFetridge (pictured) heads the cast as Widow Twankey in this year's panto, Aladdin. In Londonderry's Millennium Forum, William Caulfield is also putting on the widow's weeds for a second production of Aladdin. And at the Waterfront Studio, Dan Gordon is strapping on his girdle to play the ugliest of sisters in Cinderella.
This evening, the curtain rises on the Lyric's anti-panto, Howl, the alternative story of Little Red Riding Hood — performed with panache by Conor Grimes and Alan McKee.
This weekend, the Alley Theatre in Strabane will be producing its own set of ugly sisters in its traditional pantomime offering of |Cinderella.
Stepping away from the glitz and glitter for a moment, there are some other dates for your diary, before you submit to the occasional turkey with all its theatrical trimmings.
Ulster author Scott Marshall’s new play, Home Boy Home, makes its debut at the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine.
The drama examines what are often described as the three most stressful periods in a family's life — getting married, moving house, and arranging a funeral. The story concerns the death of Dr Connolly, head of a well-to-do Derry family. His funeral leads to a reunion of two childhood friends. We watch them pick up the pieces of their lives since they last met, and learn of the very different paths they chose.
Home Boy Home opens at the Riverside on November 28. And if you miss the show in Coleraine, there's another chance to see it when it plays in Strabane's Alley Theatre on December 10.
Finally, there's still time to see Tinderbox Theatre Company's wonderful production of Damien Gorman's Sleep Eat Party. The drama focuses on a group of teenagers doing their best to get by. The script is the result of hours of interviews, and features outstanding performances from its young cast.
It's just finished its run at the Old Museum, and is on stage in the Craic Theatre in Coalisland this evening and the Waterside Theatre in Derry tomorrow night. It visits the Riverside in Coleraine next Thursday, moving to the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn next weekend.
One of the most powerful productions of the year and not a wisp of tinsel in sight.