West End/central London

Hamlet runs at Trafalgar Studios from 6 to 31 December

This adaptation by Kelly Hunter of Shakespeare's Hamlet has been touring extensively and now comes to land in the West End.

Mark Arends plays Hamlet in this ninety-minute play which Hunter also directs. It is presented by Flute Theatre and English Touring Theatre.

Gatsby runs at Leicester Square Theatre from 29 November to 15 January

The venue is transformed into a 1920s New York speakeasy for this play with music, Gatsby, an adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

Music and lyrics are by Joe Evans and the show has a book by Linnie Reedman who directs. The choreographer is Thomas Michael Voss.

Potted Panto runs at the Garrick Theatre from 10 December to 8 January

Fancy a panto but can't make up your mind? Olivier-nominated Potted Panto comes to your rescue with seven pantos in 80 minutes.

Written and performed by former CBBC television presenters Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, this is the show that puts the silly into silly season—who knew there ever was a Fairy-Godchicken?

London Musical Theatre Orchestra—concert performance of Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens' A Christmas Carol is at the Lyceum Theatre on 19 December

Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens's A Christmas Carol finally arrives in London with a one-off concert performance. The cast includes Robert Lindsay, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Giovanna Fletcher and the fully orchestrated score will be performed by The London Musical Theatre Orchestra.

Dicken's classic story has been adapted by Broadway's by Alan Menken (music), Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and has a book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show runs at the Ambassadors Theatre from 2 December to 8 January

Four of Eric Carle’s much loved books are brought to the stage for the first time with 75 enchanting puppets. The adaptation is by director Jonathan Rockefeller.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar will tour from January.

The Snowman runs at The Peacock until 1 January

Family favourite The Snowman has returned to The Peacock. Based on the book by Raymond Briggs and the film directed by Dianne Jackson, this magical tale of a young boy and his snowman friend is told with music and lyrics by Howard Blake, choreography by Robert North and direction by Bill Alexander.

The Red Shoes runs at Sadler’s Wells from 6 December to 29 January—world première

Based on the fairy tale and Academy Award-winning film of the same name, Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes tells the story of a girl's dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. The score of the film by Bernard Herrmann is arranged by Terry Davies and played live by the New Adventures Orchestra.

The Little Match Girl runs at Lilian Baylis Studio from 10 to 30 December

Director and choreographer Arthur Pita's The Little Match Girl returns to Sadler's Wells for another wintery season. Based on the work of Hans Christian Andersen, this show tells the story through dance, song and original live music.

Theatre highlights at The Barbican Centre

  • Cymbeline runs until 20 December
  • King Lear runs until 23 December
  • The Duke runs in The Pit from 15 to 17 December

Playing at The Barbican Centre through December is the Royal Shakespeare Company with Cymbeline and King Lear.

Melly Still directs Gillian Bevan in the title role of Cymbeline, traditionally played by a man, whilst Antony Sher plays King Lear directed by Gregory Doran.

Shôn Dale-Jones and Hugh Hughes are behind charity fundraiser The Duke, a funny and poignant solo show that looks at priorities by mixing fact and fiction.

There are no set ticket prices; audience donations benefit the Save the Children’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal.

Live at Zédel

Crazy Coqs which had a re–branding earlier this year has a varied programme through December which includes Jay Rayner's 10 (Food) Commandments, chamber music from orchestra in residence, the Philharmonia (both, various dates) Gary Williams (14 to 23 December), Anne Reid accompanied by Jason Carr (18 and 19 December) and Miss Hope Springs (22 and 24 December).