Our temporary closure this year meant we haven't been able to stage our family show this Christmas, so we've taken a look back through Christmases past...

As 2020 draws to a close we look back through ten years of family shows starting, of course, with Matilda The Musical. 

Matilda opened in the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010, with book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin. The show has now been performed 7,500 times to more than 10 million audience members in 92 venues worldwide. More than 100 girls have played the role of Matilda globally.

We can’t wait to reopen Matilda The Musical in the Cambridge Theatre, London in 2021.

Girl in blue dress stands on stage between 2 long tables covered in letters
Matilda The Musical performed for the first time in the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010, directed by Matthew Warchus and designed by Rob Howell.
Photo by Lucy Barriball © RSC Browse and license our images

Our first Christmas show in the newly redeveloped Royal Shakespeare Theatre for 2011 was The Heart of Robin Hood by David Farr, a retelling of the legend that put Marion at its centre, leaving it to her to boldly protect the poor and convince Robin that he must listen to his heart if they are to save the country.

Robin Hood kissing a woman in a white wedding dress while the Sheriff of Nottingham is arrested
The Heart of Robin Hood, 2011, set designed by Börkur Jonsson, costumes designed by Emma Ryott, directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson.
Photo by Eggert Jonsson © RSC Browse and license our images

The story of a clockwork mouse and his child who are discarded by children on Christmas Day and who desperately want to get back home to the toyshop, took over the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for Christmas 2012. 

Tamsin Oglesby's magical adaptation of Russell Hoban's children's book The Mouse and His Child featured Daniel Ryan and Bettrys Jones in the title roles. 

Man dressed as a blue mouse and a woman as an elephant
The Mouse and His Child, designed by Angela Davies and directed by Paul Hunter with Daniel Ryan as Mouse and Carla Mendonça as Elephant.
Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC Browse and license our images

For 2013 and 2015 we staged Ella Hickson's Wendy & Peter Pan adapted from the novel by JM Barrie, in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. She told the magical children's story of flying, fairies and a clock-swallowing crocodile from Wendy's perspective. 

Group of people holding hands floating in mid air
Peter, Tinkerbell and the three children flying above the nursery in the 2015 production of Wendy & Peter Pan, designed by Colin Richmond and directed by Jonathan Munby
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC Browse and license our images

The Christmas Truce opened in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in December 2014. Inspired by real events of exactly 100 years before, our Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman directed Phil Porter's new play celebrating a remarkable Christmas story.

The soldiers face a world seemingly devoid of any peace or goodwill. But on Christmas Eve 1914, as the men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment shelter in their trenches, something astonishing happens.

Group of World War 1 soldiers seated posed for a photograph
The Christmas Truce (2014) designed by Tom Piper and directed by Erica Whyman
Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

Christmases 2017 and 2018 brought Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - one of the most loved short stories ever written - to Stratford-upon-Avon. The brand new adaptation by David Edgar was directed by Rachel Kavanaugh. The role of Scrooge was played by Phil Davis in 2017 and Aden Gillett in 2018.

A man sits at a writing desk, frowning.
Aden Gillett as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (2018), designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC Browse and license our images

Our Winter 2016-17 season introduced a groundbreaking version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by our Artistic Director Gregory Doran and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis.

The production, created in collaboration with Intel and in association with The Imaginarium Studios, used motion capture technology to bring digital avatars to life on stage in real time. The technology captured the actors' facial expressions as well as their movements, so their full performance could be translated into the animated character. 

Ariel and Prospero
Mark Quartley as Ariel and Simon Russell Beale as Prospero in The Tempest, 2016
Phot by Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

Shakespeare's tale of unrequited love in a late Victorian setting took turns with A Christmas Carol in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre over Christmas 2017. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the production was designed by Simon Higlett and featured Adrian Edmondson as Malvolio and Kara Tointon as Olivia. 

Malvolio in yellow stockings and a green velvet suit capering about watched by Olivia and her servants
Adrian Edmondson as Malvolio in Twelfth Night (2017), directed by Christopher Luscombe and designed by Simon Higlett
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC Browse and license our images

And so to Christmas 2019, when our brand new musical took the Royal Shakespeare Theatre by storm. The Boy in the Dress was adapted from the novel by David Walliams, with book by Mark Ravenhill and music and lyrics by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers.

It brought joy to audiences through Christmas and into March 2020, ending its run just days before the Covid-19 pandemic brought theatre across the UK to a temporary halt. 

The company of The Boy in the Dress
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC Browse and license our images

We haven't been able to open our theatres to audiences this Christmas but we are back on stage and you can watch our live events, Tales For Winter, streamed from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. 

We can't wait to open our doors to audiences again, or for next Christmas when we will have a brand new musical for all the family - The Magician’s Elephant, adapted from Kate DiCamillo's prize-winning novel, directed by Sarah Tipple and designed by Colin Richmond.

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