The pantomime holds a very special place in my heart. I remember going to shows when I was much much younger with my family, friends and even school to watch the classic performances played throughout the year. My favourite performances were the ones performed at the pantomime at Christmastime, whether they were Christmas performances or not.
The pantomime holds such a family feel to it, getting the whole audience involved with the production and making everyone feel comfortable and welcome, as though they were family. From the performance itself to the snacks and beverages you grab during intermission, the whole thing is an event that is sure to leave some special memories.
Quick links to information in this post
Quick Background On The Pantomime
The pantomime first came to Britain in the 18th Century. Though it can be traced all the way back to the ancient Roman era. Performances would be performed in honour of the midwinter feast/festival of ‘Saturnalia‘, meaning everything were to be turned upside down. By this, it is meant that the men dressed as women and the women dressed as men, hence the whole turned upside down thing.
Just like in the pantomime, the Panto Dames are played typically by men and principal boys are played by young women dressed as young men who are the leading characters; a famous example of this is Peter Pan.
Traditional plots have since been developed or even mixed up with fairytales and folk tales. Panto performances slowly became part of our Christmastime festivities that most people try to attend at least once throughout the Christmas period. They are performed over the entirety of the Christmas period starting from mid-December to January/February time.
Panto’s have also become a highly popular form of family entertainment as it appeals to the whole family. It involves everyone in the audience. Meaning the audience have to work just as hard as the performers do, by joining in with songs, assisting in conjuring tricks, booking the villain and warning the Hero with the classic ‘He’s behind you!’ or cheering them on.
Classic Pantomime Performances
Some of the most well-known pantomime shows include some absolute classic performances you all know and love. From ballet performances to the fairytales everyone knows the story.
Shows that are most popular around Christmastime:
The Snowman – Raymond Briggs story is brought to life on the stage with the two friends soaring and walking through the air together.
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens’ story is brought to the stage with Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchett where Scrooge is visited by the 3 ghosts of Christmas, past, present and future yet to come.
The Nutcracker – Where over 100 dancers and musicians tell the magical tale of a young girls’ Christmas adventure. A fun and magical story that captures the audience in its magic.
Peter Pan – The story that is told and played by the cheeky and quick-witted Peter Pan (whether it is a young man or woman playing Peter). He is a character that all children want to be like and adults can relate to with not really wanting to grow up, but understand how Wendy must go back to grow up and live her life.
Cinderella – Now this performance is famously known for having many adaptations within the theatre, whether it is Opera, Ballet, on Ice or even as Musical. The classic story where she loses her shoe at the ball. Also that she only has until Midnight before her magic wears off and she returns from riches back to her rags.
Aladdin – A performance that never gets old, with the hilarious character of Genie bringing the entertainment to the table as well as everyone jamming out to the classic songs.
Phantom of The Opera – The infamous story of Christine and The Phantom who captures not only her but the audience in his music. With the love story of Raul and Christine fuelling the forbidden love plot of the story, it keeps everyone at the edge of their seats as the songs build into the suspense of the story.
The Pantomime At Christmastime
Going to the panto is a fun activity to do with the family. You could make a whole day of the event by going out for a special meal; before or after the performance depending on what showing you’re seeing. Spending the day roaming either your local town or whatever town you’ve had to travel to.
Or going to the pantomime could be a great place to go for a date night. Since the Panto offer seasonal snacks and drinks within the concession stand. Meaning that before the production you can grab yourself some snacks and a mulled wine or a hot chocolate. You and your loved one will both love the atmosphere and festiveness of the pantomime, enjoying the something you both love. Or even if its a date night with a grandparent you’ve treated to a fun day out as a Christmas present are sure to love the atmosphere of the panto.
There is something about going to the pantomime at Christmastime. I have some very vivid memories of sitting in the stalls in awe and amazement of the spectacle that is the theatre. From operas to ballet performances to the classic song and dance pantomime performances. It’s something I’ve treasured with me all these years.
Those memories you make never really leave you, what they say is right the theatre is filled with magic. The magic lay with the performance and the sentimental value you hold. Who you go with to make the memory that bit more special. Most importantly the atmosphere created by the performers, the audience and your loved ones you go with, without them that magic isn’t quite made.