The Magic of Christmas at the Lyric, 2020 preview

Magic at the Lyric this Christmas 2020

By Conor O’Neill

2020 will be remembered by one-and-all as one of the – enter your choice of expletive here *__________* years in recent memory. But fear ye not, Belfast’s Lyric Theatre has a line-up of cracking Christmas shows to cheer up even the most miserable Scrooge from December 5th up to the first few days of 2021. Added to that there’s merchandise on offer to treat yourself or your nearest and dearest.

From December 5th there are three shows for kids of all ages. First of the three is Peter Pan: The Musical by JM Barrie and adapted by Paul Boyd. Viewers will delight in this tale of fairies, crocodiles, flying children and mermaids. So join in and watch the Darling children come nose to nose with that infamous baddie, Captain Hook, his dastardly crew of the Jolly Roger and the plot against Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.

Next up and available on the same day is Lewis Carroll’s Alice: The Musical. Kids and grown-ups will follow Alice as she slips down the bunny-hole and meets the Queen of Hearts, chases the elusive White Rabbit, laugh at the antics of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, has a tea party to remember with the Mad Hatter, whose insanity is only matched by the inventor The White Knight, all of which is overseen at all times by that grinning enigma, The Cheshire Cat.

Last of the three is Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Written by the award winning Derek O’Connor, directed by Cahoots NI’s artistic director Paul Bosco McEneaney and complete with music by Irish Musical Comedy Awards winner Ursula Burns. Tthis show turns the childhood favourite we all love on its head. Derek O’Connor’s take on the classic looks behind the curtain to find out where Rosie’s granny really lived, who actually killed that big bad Wolfie fella, and what’s the real tale of the ramshackle troupe of actors who seem to know all about the story?

Three shows to delight and amuse. Each show is £8 per device or a cash-saving £15 for all three. Not only that, but you can watch them where and when you choose from December 5th until January 3rd 2021. Plus if three shows for 15 quid isn’t even of a bargain, the Lyric has teamed up with Belfast’s Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory for a hamper of sweetie goodies and colouring-in activities to keep the kids entertained as they watch these Christmas classics. For full details simply visit or call the box office on 02890 385685.

Right, so that the little uns sorted, but what about those of us a little longer in the tooth?

Well, once again, that’s sorted too. Grimes and McKee and co. have been splitting sides in the Lyric during December for many years now. Last played in 2016 The Nativity… What the Donkey Heard has this year been turned into an audio play. Yes, we might lose some of the impromptu one-liners and crowd participation, but it’s 2020; anything a blessing during these unbearable times.

Grimes and McKee’s irreverent take on the Christmas tale looks at the little issues any logical thinker will love: why didn’t Joseph book a room? Who looked after the sheep while the shepherds were wetting the baby Jesus’s head? Would the wise men not have been wiser and brought the baby a high-chair? And most importantly, what did the donkey hear? With a stellar cast including Terence Keeley, Tara-Lynn O’Neill and Kerry Quinn, music by the wonderfully stoic Rod McVey and directed by Frankie McCafferty, this production is a must listen over the festive season. Tickets start at £10 with the option of charitable donations to help support the arts. For full booking details visit

The Lyric’s Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay, sent out this Christmas message: “It has been an incredibly challenging year for the Lyric, as well as all our colleagues in theatres across the UK and Ireland. Whilst our doors remain closed since March, we have been determined to produce work which showcases new and emerging artists, supports our freelancers and keeps the spirit of the Lyric alive… on behalf of the Lyric, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us during these challenging times.

“We hope you have a very merry Christmas and look forward to the time we can welcome you back to the Lyric.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland added: “Whilst the doors of this much loved theatre remain temporarily closed, the magic of the Lyric lives on with not one but four shows to enjoy from the safety and comfort of our homes. The Lyric has so inventively created a wonderful range of merchandise to treat yourself or a loved one this Christmas. It’s never been so easy to support your local theatre and we look forward to gathering one day soon to enjoy live theatre together once again.”

So there it is: the line-up, a few words on how to support local theatre and easy steps on how to have a ball this Christmas. You know what to do… simply visit

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