19 December 2009

Make the Yuletide Gay

I'd have to think what the Christ in Christmas crowd would do about this one I found in the BBC London Weekend Guide if are upset about the Slutcracker: Make the Yuletide Gay with Sandie Shaw (Saturday 20 December, 7.30pm, £16.50 - £36.50, Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre, Silk Street EC2. Box office: 020 7638 8891)

You can tell when Christmas has truly arrived in London: when music promoter and impresario Raymond Gubbay unveils his annual concert series of festive favourites at various upscale venues across town.

Having worked in the past with Pavarotti, Ray Charles, Henry Mancini, Yehudi Menuhin and all four London symphony orchestras, Gubbay knows how to put a programme together that will unashamedly deliver bums on seats.

And so it is with his Christmas Festival, which begins this weekend at the Barbican.

This year he's matched 60s icon Sandie Shaw with the Brighton Gay Men's Chorus for an evening of seasonal songs and carols, and presenter Natasha Kaplinsky with the London Concert Orchestra in a programme of light classics by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Schubert and Strauss.

Sandie Shaw is best remembered for the Song Puppet on a String.

Unfortunately, not much is interesting. I am sorry that this is the last year for the English National Ballet's Nutcracker designed by Gerald Scarfe and choreographed by Christopher Hampson having played for seven consecutive years. It was a super combination of the Hard Nut style scenary and choreography with a more traditional story.

I also liked Stephen Fry's Panto version of Cinderella. Despite quite a few reviews getting upset about the gay aspect of this production (well, isn't panto gay by its nature?). It was more a panto for sophisticated grown-ups than the very young. If you've seen scores of Cinderellas it's intriguing to find the heroine being accused of "pathological inanition" by the Fairy Godmother and the ugly sisters are called Dolce and Gabbana.

Don't put the Christ in Christmas, make your yuletide gay! Now, isn't that a queer idea!