He’s behind you! Hello! How often do you hear those words shouted out in the month of December? If, like me, you live in the UK and love theatre and variety then probably quite a lot because it is the wonderful time of Pantomime, Oh yes it is!!
Pantomime means all kinds of mime. It began in the 18th century and has evolved throughout the ages. There are now traditions with pantomime that have developed including there are always good and bad characters. Good always defeats evil and usually the evil sees the error in their ways to become good by the final curtain. This can be displayed in different characters dependent on the pantomime, for instance in Cinderella it is the wicked stepmother who receives the boos and in Jack and the Beanstalk it is FleshCreep! Boos are as much as part of the pantomime as cheers and are actively encouraged.
Audience participation is a must and not only from boos and cheers but shouting ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Hello’ to the character that keeps the story going, similar to a narrator.
There is always a group song for the audience to join in as well. This can be a well known children’s song, such as five little ducks, a Christmas song, a tongue twister or a fun pop song. Children are usually brought onto the stage to perform with the narrator character whilst the set is arranged behind the scenes for the big reveal of the finale.
I have been to and participated in so many pantomimes throughout the years but the song from this point in the show I remember now is ‘Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen by the Sea’. I could still give you a chorus of it now!
Traditionally the girl always played the principal boy and the Dame was played by a man. There are many Dames in Pantomime, the most famous being ‘Widow Twanky’ in Aladdin.
There have been many notable performances of the role of the dame. My favourites are ‘Danny La Rue’ who was Queen of Pantomime, John Inman, Christopher Biggins and La Voix. I was lucky enough to go to Aylesbury last December to see ‘La Voix’ in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and I can honestly say it was one of the best Dame performances I have seen since Danny La Rue. In fact the whole of the pantomime was slick and so professional. I was looking forward to going to see ‘Cinderella’ this year but this has now been postponed to 2021.
Some places in the UK and managing to produce a socially distanced pantomime with financial aide from the government. Unfortunately this is very few and far between and if, like me, you are currently in a tier three area, due to Covid, you can not travel to or even enter a theatre or venue.
One theatre has tried to combat this and that is ‘The Alliance Theatre‘ in the UK. They are producing a virtual ‘One Line Cinderella’ and it is claimed it is the World’s first global virtual performance of Cinderella.
The Alliance Theatre allocate a part for you and give you a few lines to learn and a song. You are responsible for your costume, make up and filming and have to follow the directions carefully so the whole production can be carefully pieced together to produce the pantomime ‘Cinderella’.
Here is the trailer for ‘Cinderella’ that was released the other day!. What do you think? Does it sound amazing to you? I love the fact that theatres are thinking outside of the box and looking at different ways to be creative, especially when it opens it up to more of the community.
The premiere will be held on Christmas Eve at 6pm and will be available to view after.
I loved being part of the company, even if it has been tricky getting together my costume and filming in the current lockdown. I am so glad that I signed up and look forward to the finished performance.
What part did I play? I hear you cry! Why not take a guess ??.
Why not try and get into the Christmas spirit this year, support theatre and watch the performance. Christmas is not Christmas without a Pantomime! Oh No It Isn’t!!!
Sparkle Hugs and Glitter Kisses
All photographs, unless stated, are the copyright of Lorna Liza