Christmas Pantos in London 2018
No trip to London over the festive season would be complete without a trip to see a Christmas Pantomime. With a performance history dating back to the Roman era, modern-day Panto scripts are based on traditional children’s stories and fairy tales including those by the brothers Grimm, Hans Christien Anderson and Charles Perrault. Pantos such as Dick Whittington, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are perennial family favourites. As the stories are well-known, satire and double-entendres are deployed to great effect in keeping adults as well as children amused!
There are several conventions you can expect to see in a panto including:
- The older woman (the Dame) being played by a man in drag
- The leading male young character (the principal boy) played by a young woman in male breeches. Her romantic partner is the principal girl
- Expect to join in with sing-alongs and shouting out “He’s behind you!”, “Oh no he isn’t!” and “Oh yes he is!” throughout the show
- Pop songs are performed with the words changed to comic effect and half of the audience singing one part and the other half the rest
- The good characters enter from stage right (from the audience’s point of view this is on the left) and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). This convention goes back to the medieval mystery plays, where the right side of the stage symbolised Heaven and the left side symbolised Hell
- There is always a pantomime animal such as a cow or horse with two actors inside one costume making up the front and rear ends
- At some point during the performance, characters including the Dame and her comedy sidekick will sing a cheerful song to each other to forget their fears. The thing they fear appears behind them, but at first the characters ignore the audience’s warnings of danger. The characters soon circle them as the audience cries “It’s behind you!” until the fearful thing scares them away or they chase it off stage
There are plenty of fabulous Pantos available to see in London this year all guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Our highlights include the following;
Snow White at the London Palladium 8th December 2018 to 13th January 2019 – Join Dawn French, Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin and Nigel Havers for this family favourite.
Aladdin at the Hackney Empire 4th December 2018 – 6th January 2019 – Now in its 20th year, the Hackney Empire know how to put on a great panto and this year is no exception with Aladdin.
Dick Whittington at the Lyric Hammersmith on between December 5th 2018 and January 6th 2019 explores the journey of how poor Dick became Mayor of London ably assisted by his trusty sidekick -a super cool cat. Expect lots of topical gags and big songs courtesy of the full in-house band.
Peter Pan at Richmond Theatre 8th November 2018 – 6th January 2019. This traditional Panto takes place in one of the capital’s most lavish theatres. There are plenty of goodies to cheer for and baddies to boo at in this swashbuckling spectacular.