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The Ultimate Leeds Theatre Guide

· James Tweddle · Culture

From intriguing plays to Oscar-winning hits, find out what’s on in Leeds’ theatres this month.


Want to know what the Leeds theatre scene has to offer in this new year? From family-friendly fun to unique productions, there’s something for everyone.

Deciding which Leeds theatre to go to in January won’t be easy, because this month is packed to bursting with opera, musicals and dance performances. So before you buy your tickets, let us tell you what’s on at Leeds’ most legendary and little-known theatres. Don’t forget to come back next month for even more ideas, because we’ll be updating this guide every month.

The ones everyone’s talking about

Shrek the Musical

Credit: Helen Maybanks

Cool, unique and absolutely unmissable – there’s a reason why these productions have people talking.

Shrek – The Musical

Originally an Oscar-winning animated flick, the world’s most popular ogre is now an all-singing, all-dancing stage show in the form of Shrek – The Musical. It follows the same story you know and love, Shrek and Donkey are dispatched by the villainous Lord Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona from a distant, dragon-protected tower. With catchy tunes and rib-tickling humour, it’s a real treat for the whole family.

Shrek – The Musical is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Sunday 6th January 2019.


A heart-warming story best known from the 1969 Ken Loach film, Leeds Playhouse will start off 2019 with a knockout production of Kes, the tale of one boy and his bird. When troubled youth Billy Casper finds an injured kestrel, he’s determined to nurse it back to health – but can their friendship survive the hard realities of the world?

Kes is at Leeds Playhouse from Friday 25th January until Saturday 16th February 2019.

The Magic Flute

Dark fantasy, adventure and comedy all rolled up into one, The Magic Flute has been enchanting audiences for centuries. Set in an alternate reality, Tamino sets off on a mission to rescue the princess from the evil Priest of the Sun at the bequest of her mother, but as the action unfolds on stage, you’ll find yourself questioning who is good and who is bad. The story is brought to life with Mozart’s incredible score, making the story all the more moving.

The Magic Flute is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 19th January to Friday 1st March 2019.

A Christmas Carol

The Northern re-telling of A Christmas Carol is here for one more month, with spooky ghosts, big laughs, moving songs and even a bit of dancing. It’s the classic story of Christmas-hating Scrooge being visited by the spirits we all know and love, but with a Northern twist. Imagine if Scrooge was a Leeds lad who owned a warehouse at the docks and you’ve got the idea.

A Christmas Carol is at Leeds Playhouse until Saturday 19th January 2019.

Innovative theatre productions

Fancy something a little bit different this month? You’ll find plenty of options in Leeds’ theatres.

Gideon Klein: Portrait Of A Composer

Gideon Klein: Portrait Of A Composer captures the life of the Czech pianist and composer all the way from childhood to imprisonment at Theresienstadt concentration camp. It’s a devastating look at how music survives under even the darkest of circumstances and the play will mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 on what would have been Gideon’s 100th birthday, with an audience discussion afterwards.

Gideon Klein: Portrait Of A Composer is at Riley Theatre on Sunday 27th January 2019.

Miz Cracker: It’s Time

One of the biggest breakout stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Miz Cracker brings her one woman show to Leeds. Always one to speak her mind, the Harlem-based fashionista will be covering everything from comedic anecdotes to the more serious issues of gay rights, all accompanied by a dash of music and even a dance performance or two.

Miz Cracker: It’s Time is at O2 Academy Leeds on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Haunting Julia

Alan Ayckbourn’s most spine-tingling play explodes into life this month with Haunting Julia. Only made more tense by the small, intimate performance space at Adel Social Club, this ghost story is set in a recreation of Julia’s bedroom where the young music prodigy took her own life at the age of nineteen – or did she? Three men examine their own connection to the girl, as a lurking evil presence draws ever closer…

Haunting Julia is at Adel Sports and Social Club from Wednesday 23rd to Saturday 26th January 2019.

An Evening With Alice Roberts

Ready to travel back in time on stage? That’s exactly what you can do at An Evening With Alice Roberts, bone expert, anthropologist and archaeologist extraordinaire. From Time Team to Britain’s Most Historic Towns, she’ll be discussing her life’s work with footage, rare finds and behind-the-scenes stories, as well as a special Q+A afterwards.

An Evening With Alice Roberts is at Leeds City Varieties on Tuesday 29th January 2019.

Dynamic Dance and Music performances

Dance and music fans have a quartet of incredible shows to look forward to in Leeds this month.

La Voix

Live, Loud & Fabulous – La Voix’s new show says it all. You can look forward to a dazzling evening of music and movement, as the Britain’s Got Talent and Ab Fab The Movie star leaps from Cher to Liza Minelli and Tina Turner, impersonating their voices with uncanny accuracy. For a night of diva performances with a touch of glamour, there’s nowhere better to go.

La Voix: Live, Loud & Fabulous is at Leeds City Varieties on Friday 18th January 2019.


Phoenix Dance Theatre is at it again, this time for a one-off showcase. Created by Artistic Director Sharon Watson, the company’s 12 female dancers are performing Emergence, a double bill of works dedicated to female empowerment. ‘And still I walk…’ tackles 100 years of women’s suffrage and justice, while ‘When Worlds Collide’ builds to a cacophonous finish through the language of dance.

Emergence is at Stage@Leeds on Thursday 31st January 2019.

The Ingenious Ones III

After two standout shows, Excessive Human Collective will complete the trilogy at Wharf Street’s Middle Floor. A whirling blend of music, dance, drag, art, and of course, cake – you won’t be bored for a single second. The highlight promises to be Spanish dancer Piedad Albarracin Seiquer, who pays tribute to her female role models and her own emotional rollercoaster in vibrant piece (R)evolve.

The Ingenious Ones III is at The Middle Floor, Wharf Street on Saturday 19th January 2019.

Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour

Sequins, sashays and foot-stomping music. The BBC smash-hit dance contest Strictly Come Dancing is going on the road with The Live Tour, and you can see your favourite dancers and celebs strut their stuff at First Direct Arena this month. From Joe Sugg to Pasha Kovalev, Graeme Swann and Stacey Dooley, it promises to be a night of stunning costumes and incredible movement.

Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour is at First Direct Arena from Thursday 24th January to Friday 25th January 2019.

Family-friendly theatre

The Rock 'n' Roll Panto

Treat the family to a day out at the theatre in Leeds this month, with a whole host of shows to choose from.

Cinderella – The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto

There’s still time to take the family to a rip-roaring panto in January. It’s all about the belle of the ball – Cinderella. All the classic elements are here, evil stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and of course, the glass slipper. But it comes with a twist. The cast don’t just act out the story, they take over the instruments every now and then too. It’s bonkers, but fun.

Cinderella – The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto is at Leeds City Varieties until Sunday 13th January 2019.

Snow White & the 7 Dwarves

Treating the little ones to a show? You can’t go wrong with classic fairytale yarn Snow White & the 7 Dwarves. It’s her 18th birthday and she should be celebrating, but the magic mirror just declared her the ‘fairest in the land’, sending the wicked Queen Malevolent into a rage. Can Snow White escape and get help from the 7 dwarves in the forest? With songs and a happy ending, it’s the perfect treat for tots and parents alike.

Snow White & the 7 Dwarves is at Carriageworks Theatre on Friday 18th January 2019.

Beauty and the Beast

We’re not done with the fabulous fairytale shows just yet, as January also delivers another rip-roaring turn with family-friendly panto Beauty and the Beast. The noble prince has been turned into a monstrous beast by the evil Drusilla, and he needs Belle to fall in love with him before the final petal falls or he’ll be stuck forever. Can he do it? Enjoy colourful costumes and sing-a-long tunes as you find out.

Beauty and the Beast is at Guiseley Theatre until Sunday 6th January 2019.

Feature image credit Anthony Robling