Caroline, Or Change – Playhouse Theatre, London
Sharon D Clarke reprises her acclaimed performance in Michael Longhurst’s production of Tony Kushner’s musical, first seen at Chichester, than at Hampstead Theatre. It opens at the West End’s Playhouse Theatre on December 17. Clarke also features on The Stage podcast this month.
The Tragedy of Richard the Second – Almeida Theatre, London
Simon Russell Beale plays the title role in Joe Hill-Gibbins’ production of Shakespeare’s play  of a monarch brought low. Leo Bill and Saskia Reeves co-star and it opens at the Almeida on December 18.
Sweat – Donmar Warehouse, London
Lynette Linton  – recently announced as the new artistic director of the Bush Theatre  – directs a cast including US star Martha Plimpton in the UK premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer prize-winning play exploring poverty in the US. It opens on December 19.
Beauty and the Beast – Jubilee Central, Hull
Hull-based company Middle Child has been staging accessible, alternative pantomimes in its home city for several years now. Marc Graham – winner of The Stage Edinburgh Award for All We Ever Wanted Was Everything  – plays the dame in a production that’s likely to be big on music and mayhem. It opens on December 19.
Circus 1903 – Royal Festival Hall, London
This celebration of the golden age of circus features life-sized puppet elephants from the puppeteers who created War Horse  and an array of thrilling circus acts. It opens at the Royal Festival Hall on December 20.