Full casting and creative team details have been announced for Polka Theatre’s 2023 Winter shows: The Snow Queen – the first commission of Artistic Director Helen Matravers’ tenure – premieres from 11 November – 21 January in the Main Theatre, recommended for ages 6-12. The Night Before Christmas returns to Polka after a highly successful run in 2021, recommended for children aged 2-6, playing in the Adventure Theatre from 18 November – 14 January.
Helen Matravers, Artistic Director and Joint CEO, Polka Theatre said, “Polka audiences are in for an incredible, beautiful and hilarious festive treat. The creative teams working with Polka on our two Winter productions are dedicated to creating imaginative, ambitious and playful work for young audiences, that hits every height of the quality of theatre for adults. We are committed to making this brilliant work as accessible as possible with £10 tickets for all performances in the Main Theatre, accessible performances and free tickets to schools who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend, through our Curtain Up! programme.
As well as magical productions, we have an array of Winter workshops, and you are welcome to enjoy our festively decorated free play spaces, or enjoy a freshly made lunch in our café – Polka is the perfect family outing.”
The Snow Queen, written by Jude Christian (‘Hamlet’, ‘Dick Whittington’, National Theatre, ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’, Lyric Hammersmith) based on the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen, will be directed by Emma Baggott, and stars Finlay McGuigan (‘The Tempest’, Regents Park Open Air Theatre and Unicorn Theatre), Joe Boylan (‘Accidental Death of An Anarchist’, Theatre Royal Haymarket; ‘I Want My Hat Back’ Little Angel Theatre), Paula James (‘The Lost Spells’, UK tour; ‘The Wind in the Wilton’s’, Wilton’s Music Hall), Phoebe Naughton (‘Comedy of Errors’, Shakespeare’s Globe; ‘The Wonderful World of Dissocia’, Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Rebecca Wilson (‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, National Theatre UK tour).
Gerda is on the magical quest of a lifetime. Her best friend Kai has disappeared with the mysterious Snow Queen, and if Gerda doesn’t rescue him soon, he’ll be trapped in an endless winter forever.
Come on an unforgettable and thrilling adventure where the strength of friendship is tested to its limits, and nothing is quite what it seems in the fantastical, frosty world of The Snow Queen.
Jude Christian said, “Polka is a magical place for families and communities, and Christmas is the most wondrous time of year to make theatre, so I couldn’t be more excited to be part of The Snow Queen. We want to make a show that’s noisy and caring and masses of fun, inspired by this beautiful story about best friends and the adventure of growing up together.”
The Night Before Christmas – an original play by Hattie Naylor inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s much-loved poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ featuring original music, skilful puppetry and a generous sprinkling of festive magic – is directed by Roman Stefanski, designed by Kate Bunce, with music by Julian Butler and lighting by Aaron J Dootson. Victoria Chen (‘As You Like It’, Orange Tree Theatre, ‘Lost Lending Library’, Punchdrunk Enrichment) and Jack Kelly (‘Kill Will’, Told by an Idiot, ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’, Tall Stories) will perform.
Amber is six and loves reindeer! It’s Christmas Eve but Grandad is feeling tired and Amber’s favourite snow-globe gets broken. Then her world is turned topsy turvy by a surprise visitor and Amber begins an adventure she will never forget.
Join us on a festive journey like no other – after all, on the night before Christmas, anything can happen.
Roman Stefanski said, “I can’t wait to welcome audiences to Polka’s Adventure Theatre and to our revival of the hugely popular The Night Before Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve and the tree has finally been decorated but not much else. Join Amber, Grandad and a delightful reindeer companion as they try to find their Christmas spirit. I hope audiences young and old will enjoy this returning favourite with more than a dash of festive magic!”
Tickets are on sale now via polkatheatre.com or call 020 8543 4888*
For families who wish to get a bit more involved in the action, a series of Festive Holiday Workshops are available across the Christmas break too. Music and movement for the little ones in pre-Christmas’ Jingle Bell Rock!, getting crafty with the over 3s in the Build Your Own Snow Globe workshop – then after the big day the bigger kids (8-12 years) can get cool with a one day Beatbox Masterclass, and the performers in your family can flex their acting muscles exploring making characters and telling stories in Wicked Winter Wonderland.
Polka Theatre is one of just a handful of dedicated children’s venues in the UK. Re-opening in 2021 after a major renovation, Polka continues to present a year-round programme of shows produced by Polka and from visiting companies. Polka also offers a full programme of creative learning activities for ages 0–12, with over 21,000 children taking part in the last year. Polka enjoys flexible rehearsal and workshop spaces along with two performance spaces: the Main Theatre has a 300-seat capacity, and the Adventure Theatre can seat up to 90 depending on the show format.
Over the past year Polka has worked with 143 schools through creative learning projects and has distributed over 6,000 free tickets to schools through their Curtain Up! scheme.
Polka is a community hub and vital resource, open 6 days per week, 50 weeks per year at a challenging time to be a sustainable public venue with step-free access, free-to-access play spaces and a cosy and welcoming café and shop.