THEATRE / What do you do with the child who has seen everything? Three seasoned professionals from the world of theatre and opera on the treats in store for their children this Christmas

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The Independent Culture
David Bradley

Actor. Has three children: George, 12, Jack, 7, and Francesca, 6.

'The annual fixture for us seems to be the panto at Chipping Norton (in Oxfordshire). I took them to Birmingham once to see one of those big pantos with a star who has a number in the charts and a whole load of topical jokes, and they didn't like it at all. The one at Chipping Norton is like a very old variety theatre and it's brilliantly done. It advertises itself as 'the panto with sweets' - which helps. It's smaller and friendlier and you're much closer to the action - plus the panto isn't a vehicle for any artist. With the big pantos the story often goes out of the window and so the show doesn't engage the kids. I did take my daughter to see The Nutcracker one year and she liked it - but she kept asking when the talking was going to start.'

Stuart Paterson

Playwright; has four of his children's plays in production this year. Twins Patrick and Bruno, 2 1/2, and Alana, 5.

'I don't take the twins yet - they'd wreck the place anyway. I take Alana, but she's very timid and she gets quite alarmed even just going into the theatre. So I tend to go into a box with her. My advice would be to give children plenty of warning before going in, because even the softest of pantos can be quite scary - so be cosy and protective and if you have a timid child sit near the back. The shows are incredibly hard to write: you have to regress and at the same time be totally logical and clear in how you tell the story. I think it's quite strange for Alana to go with me because it's a busman's holiday for me and I sit there muttering. Someone asked her what her daddy did and she said, 'Oh, he writes rubbish.' '

David Pountney

Opera director. Two children: Emilia, 11, and James, 8.

'I love pantomimes. When I worked in Glasgow, I used to go to the Citizens' panto. It used to be splendid, with particularly good designs by people like Sue Blane. But I'm not sure where I'd go to find a good one in London, although I've been told that the Players Theatre is pretty good. I'm not really keen on going to see a whole lot of telly stars I don't recognise. This year I'm taking my children to see Hansel and Gretel and The Adventures of Mr Broucek at ENO. They're both shows of mine, although that's not the only reason I'm taking them. We're also going to see the Tales of Beatrix Potter at the Royal Ballet and The Witches - the children particularly requested that; the power of Roald Dahl is irresistible.'

(Photographs omitted)

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