From ballets to opera, and some world-famous musicals, Dubai’s hosting some showstoppers this year
Jamie Goodwin and Emma Pearson
Alice in Wonderland Who doesn’t love the zany characters from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel? The Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts have delighted and terrified us since childhood. Now The Ballet Centre Students of Dubai will follow their well-received performances of The Nutcracker and Dreams Come True by telling the tale of Alice’s fantastical journey through the magical Wonderland through classical ballet, modern and tap dance. A perfect post-Christmas family day out. Dhs125-175. Jan 19, 3pm, 6pm. DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 4777).
AÏda This opera from Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi follows the story of the forbidden love between titular character, an enslaved Nubian princess, and the young Egyptian warrior Radames. Performed by the renowned Polish National Opera, it is set to striking backdrops of Ancient Egypt and features elaborate costumes from the era. This show is renowned for being almost as much a visual treat as a musical one. Dhs350-7,600. Feb 14-17, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai (04 440 8888).
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature This is one for the wordsmith, and something new for us here in the city. For the first time, Dubai Opera will host world-class poets for a spoken word event as part of the tenth annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. For the Love of Words will see some of the world’s finest literary talents from the UAE and the UK come together to perform their much-loved works. The ten-day literary festival will take place at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City and will include a one-off event at the Opera on Tuesday March 6. Dubai poet Khalid AlBudoor, multi-award-winning British poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage, Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy – the first female Poet Laurette – the legendary British poet, presenter and children’s author Roger McGough, children’s’ author Jaqueline Wilson and comic-turned- author David Walliams will all take to the stage. In addition to the authors, you’ll also get to hear from Saroo Brierley, whose real-life story was depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie Lion. From Dhs50. Mar 1-10. InterContinental Dubai Festival City, www.emirateslitfest.com. Dubai Opera performance from Dhs75. March 6, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Eugene Onegin The Polish National Opera is coming to the city with lungs of steel, to tell us the passionate story of a sophisticated yet selfish young man who lives to regret his nonchalant rejection of a young woman’s love. Sounds a bit like an angsty Instagram post, we’d say – but with breathtaking music, stunning vocals and an overall phenomenal performance. And if you then throw in a devastating duel with his best friend and we have all the makings of a showstopper. From350. Feb 22-23, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Evita If you go to one musical in Dubai this year, you could do worse than booking a spot at one of the world’s most famous. This masterpiece from arguably the greatest composer of all-time, Andrew Lloyd Webber, tells the story of Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina. It follows her early life and rise to power, her famed charity work and her death. The show is perhaps best known for the belt-it-out classic Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, which is bound to be swimming around in your head for the weeks following the show. Dhs250-7,200. Jan 22-27 and Jan 29 to Feb 3, 2.30pm, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai (04 440 8888).
Federico Soldati This Swiss mentalist has been confounding audiences since the age of 14 with a unique stage show that blurs the lines of reality. After appearances on Swiss television, the illusionist and artist got his big break when he finished third on Italia’s Got Talent in 2012 and now tours the world. Dhs75. Feb 2, 8.30pm. Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6546).
La Perle by Dragone The involvement of Cirque du Soleil founder member Franco Dragone in this permanent stage show – for which he earned a spot in its title – is clear in the incredible acrobatics and spectacular sets, including an 11-metre-deep water tank at the purpose-built theatre at the Al Habtoor City hotel complex. Prepare to oooh and aaah your way through the 90-minute performance – but don’t pack the free poncho away in your bag too soon, because you might well get wet. Dhs400-1,600. Times vary. Ongoing. The Atrium, Al Habtoor City (04 437 0000).
Ludovico Einaudi The supremely refined lyrical genius that is Ludovico Einaudi has just released another date to his sold-out performance at Dubai Opera. Einaudi will now take to the Opera stage and dazzle us with not one, but two nights of songs from his series of chart-topping albums, which have sold out concert halls worldwide. Until Tuesday January 23, you can take advantage of an early-bird offer and get 20 percent off on all seat categories except boxes. Get in there quick before tickets sell out again. From Dhs160. Feb 8-9 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Macbeth: A Shakespeare 4 Kidz Musical Adaptation Those parents desperately searching for a way to inject a bit of culture into the day-to-day doings of their children may just have been handed a lifeline. This presentation of the bard’s tragic tale through song and dance shows us the journey of a brave Scottish warrior who learns from three strange sisters that he will one day become the king of Scotland. He becomes consumed by ambition and is driven to the throne by his wife in a story of murder and tyranny. Told in easy-to-understand modern language, this fast-paced, musical thriller is one for Shakespeare enthusiasts and young newcomers alike. Dhs170. Fri Mar 2, 11.45am, 7.30pm. Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 4777).
National Theatre: Julius Caesar Get right into the midst of the story of the Roman general, whose triumphant return to the city brings the people out of their homes in celebration. It prompts a group of rebellious senators, concerned about the ruler’s popularity, to conspire against him, before his assassination leads to civil war in Rome. Nicholas Hytner directs a new take on the Shakespeare classic, which sees the audience thrust into the street party that greets Caesar’s return, the congress that witnesses his murder, the rally that assembles for his funeral and the chaos that explodes in its wake. The production stars a cast of famous faces instantly recognisable from TV and film, including Ben Whishaw of Skyfall, Michelle Fairley of Game of Thrones and David Morrissey of The Walking Dead. Ticket prices to be announced. Apr 26-27. Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz (050 781 2257).
Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale Fun fact: the surprise success of Disney’s 2010 animated musical Tangled led to the studio embracing the same format in the production of its 2013 follow-up, the mega-popular Frozen. And with the story of Rapunzel now firmly returned to the realms of popular culture, the long-haired heroine will now be brought to stage at DUCTAC for an Easter panto run. The community theatre is promising their take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale will be filled with music, comedy, sumptuous sets, colourful costumes and audience participation. Ticket prices to be announced. Mar 29, 7pm; Mar 30 to Apr 3, 11am, 3pm; Apr 5 11am, 3pm. DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 4777).
Romeo and Juliet Not the William Shakespeare play you watched in school, this is the ballet by distinguished Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev that is based on the famous tragedy. Performed by The Moscow City Ballet, one of Russia’s most extensively touring companies, the show is performed to a powerful score from a live orchestra. This version of the story of doomed lovers from Verona’s wealthy Montague and Capulet families is faithful to Shakespeare’s text and is an elegant representation of Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers. Dhs350-7,600. Apr 19-21, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai (04 440 8888).
Shaolin Warriors A dazzling display of dexterity by the masters of kung fu, this jaw-dropping spectacle comes direct from the birthplace of the world’s oldest martial art. The show, featuring death-defying airborne maneuvers and toe-curling acts of bravery, follows the journey of a young child as he attempts to reach warrior status. It’s a popcorn-spilling blend of beautiful sets, music, lighting and costumes. Squeamish sorts should perhaps watch a YouTube clip or two before splashing out on tickets too close to the stage… Dhs195-5,560. Feb 27 to Mar 1, 8pm; Mar 2-3, 2.30pm, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai (04 440 8888).
Short+Sweet Theatre Haven’t got the patience/attention span to sit through a three-hour show? Not to worry – Short+Sweet Theatre is here to solve that. The show is back for its sixth year in Dubai, for the largest showcase of ten-minute plays in the world. The event is spread over six weekends and features more than 200 of Dubai’s actors, writers, directors and independent theatre companies at The Junction, Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz. Expect comedy, drama, romance and overall endless thrills. This year also includes a separate weekend of non-English plays showcasing the diversity of cultures and ethnicities who call Dubai home. We can’t wait to see it. From Dhs85. Jan 26 to Mar 3, times vary. The Junction, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, www.dubai.platiumlist.net.
Stick Man We can’t wait for this show from Popular Productions, the theatre company that won the 2017 Dubai Award for the Best International Theatrical Production handed out by our sister publication, Time Out Kids. This critically acclaimed show, based on Julia Donaldson’s bestselling children’s book, features live music, puppetry and visual treats. It comes to the emirate after seven West End runs and a UK tour. It starts when Stick Man’s morning jog sees him encounter a dog who wants to play fetch with him and a swan who builds a nest with him. And that’s before he ends up on a fire. A tough day for poor Stick Man. Dhs145-185. Jan 17-20, times vary. Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, Dubai (04 366 6546).