A magical festive treat coming to Dubai and Abu Dhabi features song, dance, storytelling - and illusions specially created by the British magician Paul Daniels.
Santa Claus is coming to town
This Thursday, be ready to bundle up and head for a trip to the North Pole. But be warned, nothing is as it seems in Santa Claus and the Christmas Adventures. Hosted by the UAE-based Art for Art, the show promises a "magical Christmas experience" complete with songs, poems, stories and magic.
A tale of adventure
The adventure takes the audience straight to Santa Claus's headquarters - the North Pole. However, nothing is going quite as planned: Rudolph the reindeer has suddenly disappeared and the elves are misbehaving. The presents are ready to be delivered and as Santa is trying to find a way to get the presents to the children there's yet another problem - it is far too foggy outside.
In addition to tunes and tales the show mixes in interactive elements and new illusions from Paul Daniels.
"Paul created great routines for our UAE audiences. There is one scene where he creates snowflakes that fall over the stage and crowd - and the UAE will be the first to see this inclusion in the show," says Jamie Wilson of Jamie Wilson Productions, whose past shows include When Harry Met Sally and A Nightmare Before Christmas.
As the audience enters the theatre, they will be greeted by the elves and after the show, children can meet and greet Santa.
"The show is a big hit in London and because Santa is so universal. Everyone can enjoy such a great character," says Wilson. "The crowd will get to help Santa with the toy machine too."
When Wilson was in Dubai on a holiday last year, a chance meeting with Rania Ashur, the founder of Art for All, triggered the idea of bringing the show to the UAE.
"We then thought about where best Santa could land his sleigh so, we figured the Palm Jumeirah would be the most natural location," says Wilson.
The set features an ice castle, a toy factory in the North Pole and stables, with a cast and crew of about 12.
"For some, it will be their first theatre experience, so it's a unique show which combines both performance and meet and greet," says Wilson. "Theatre is so important because when a child becomes exposed to it at an early age, it becomes a normality and part of their culture."
This is crucial, he believes, because theatre is an expressive medium which explores a variety of themes, topics and emotions. It also acts as a vehicle giving the audience a chance to escape from their daily routines by way of entertainment.
"This show, for example, deals with a number of lessons, including: it doesn't matter what you look like; if you work hard and stay true, you will go far in life; and if you are good, you will get rewarded for it," says Wilson.
Wilson plans to return to the UAE in February with a production entitled Love Letters,which he describes as a "beautiful, moving" romance that follows two people who grew up together and continue to stay in touch through letters. It will star the American actress Stefanie Powers (Hart to Hart) and the American-British actor David Soul (Starsky and Hutch).
The company is also currently producing the 1970s West End Musical I Will Survive and will present Popcorn by the comedy writer Ben Elton next spring.
"On average, we produce about six productions per year and some of the plays do about 70 shows each," says Wilson. "I love different types of shows because having that mixture is brilliant."
• Santa Claus and the Christmas Adventures, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Thursday at 4pm and 6.30pm, Friday and Saturday at 11am, 2pm, 4pm and 6.30pm and Sunday at 4pm. Tickets cost from Dh85 to Dh135. At Emirates Palace, the show is on December 14 at 11am. Tickets cost from Dh95 to Dh145. Tickets are available from www.timeouttickets.com