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A Christmas Carol, It's A Wonderful Life, The Nutcracker, War Horse, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Prom and Katherine Jenkins in Saffron Screen's Christmas and New Year season

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Christmas classics, Oscar contenders and London stage shows are on offer at Saffron Screen until the new year.

The community cinema in Saffron Walden reopened on Friday (Dec 11) following the second lockdown and film lovers can expect a varied schedule, with something for everyone to enjoy this festive season.

Christmas highlights include an exciting new retelling of A Christmas Carol (Sat Dec 19 at 2.30pm). In this magical new version of Charles Dickens' renowned ghost story, the characters are portrayed by dancers and voiced by a dazzling array of brilliant actors, including Simon Russell Beale, Andy Serkis, Carey Mulligan and Martin Freeman. The show is interspersed with animation using paper figures and models.

Beloved stray ginger street cat Bob returns to the big screen in A Christmas Gift from Bob (Sun Dec 20 at 7.30pm and Wed Dec 23 at 7.30pm). In this sequel to 2016's A Street Cat named Bob, busker James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) recalls a chapter in his life when he and his feline sidekick were nearly separated.

It's a Wonderful Life (Mon Dec 21 at 7.30pm), starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, is sure to delight fans of Hollywood's golden age. Frank Capra’s classic tale never fails to hit all the right notes and makes for compulsory Christmas viewing.

Those longing for the buzz of live events are in for a treat. The smash-hit stage production of War Horse (Sun Dec 20 at 2.30pm) was recorded live at the National Theatre. This magical production is filled with stirring music and songs, and at its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

The Royal Ballet’s much-loved production of The Nutcracker (Mon Dec 21 at 2.30pm and Thu Dec 31 at 2.30pm) is sure to be a firm favourite. The production was filmed at the Royal Opera House in 2016 and the period setting is captured in opulent detail by Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs, which include authentic Christmas tree decorations that are magically brought to life.

Welsh songstress Katherine Jenkins (Tue Dec 22 at 7.30pm) recorded her Christmas spectacular at the Albert Hall and performed seasonal favourites and carols with full nostalgic Hollywood musical glamour. The mezzo-soprano is joined by actors Vanessa Redgrave and Bill Nighy, opera icon Sir Bryn Terfel, Italian tenor Alberto Urso, Broadway star Marisha Wallace, English National Ballet lead principal Erina Takahashi and the Royal Air Force Regiment Band among others.

Despite the disruption to film releases this year, the awards season will soon be upon us and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Sun Dec 27 at 7.30pm and Tue Dec 29 at 7.30pm) is tipped to be on the Oscars short-list. This brilliantly acted adaptation of August Wilson’s hit play about trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band in 1920s Chicago includes an incredible final performance from Chadwick Boseman.

Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep is set to be submitted for lead actress for her performance in The Prom (Fri Dec 18 at 7.30pm and Wed Dec 23 at 2.30pm), a star-studded musical about Broadway stars descending on a Midwest town.

Saffron Screen’s Covid-19 safety measures are in force at all times. These include a significantly reduced capacity in the auditorium, with empty seats between booking groups, a one-way system to enable social distancing and thorough and regular cleaning between screenings.

There are also temperature checks for all staff, volunteers and customers on arrival, and the front-of-house team will be wearing suitable PPE.

Tickets must be booked online at www.saffronscreen.com or by calling the box office on 01799 524002 (open Mondays to Saturdays, 9.30am to 5pm). To see Saffron Screen's full schedule, visit saffronscreen.com/category/whatson.

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