|Louie Spence in a panto near you|
Pantos are great - Oh yes they are!
Date: 9 December 2011
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the magic of Pantomime.
As we approach that time of year again with festively spirited cries of ‘Oh, no it isn’t!’ I am left considering whether or not these Christmas treats really are still fun for the whole family.
Ask any parent of young children and you will certainly receive a marmite response. But love them or hate them, come December theatres up and down the country will be playing host to an ensemble cast of celebrity has-beens as they tread the boards reciting classic children’s tales.
And yet despite their history (pantomime originally evolved from a ‘between the acts’ Opera filler to a festive mainstay) I wonder if their performance conventions could still be regarded as harmless entertainment. Traditional pantomime is littered with sexual innuendos, the hero is either dazzlingly beautiful or charmingly handsome and mocking of any lesser character is encouraged. Healthy audience competition is demanded and rewarded with greed for sweets and other fripperies.
There is no doubt that pantomime has cemented its place in our heritage. Of course, they are frowned upon by the theatrical and literary elite, but what is perhaps most impressive is the fact that pantomime has, and continues to, increase in popularity. Pantomime is competitive show business. Although a growing number of more contemporary venues are shunning them in favour of ‘family shows’ that offer a far more serious version of an identical script than their comedic counterparts, a pantomime never fails to guarantee a box office windfall. Modern pantomime is performed with an increased professionalism and, with an emphasis on pop stars and soap opera heartthrobs replacing the traditional principal boy and pantomime dame, standards are certainly in line with the best of musical theatre.
Pantomime these days is considered an illustrious song and dance knees-up. The jokes and ultimate feel good factor remain but are delivered with superior performances, polished scores and impressive special effects. Buffoonery and banter anyone? ‘Oh, yes it is!’
- Sarah Bloomer
Any opinions expressed above do not represent the view of Whatsonstage.com nor any of its staff or contributors beyond the bylined author.
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