Today marks National Pantomime Day and I couldn’t let it pass by without writing about the meaning of Pantomime to me from my childhood years right up to present day. Panto has to be one of my favourite traditions of the festive period. With its slapstick routines, loud and very bright costumes and humour for the young and old it never fails to amuse me.
Last January, I was lucky to get my chance to direct and produce the pantomime ‘Cinderella’ with my local amateur group, The Quince Players. I wanted to bring together as much fun, singing, laughter and dancing as possible. With a little help from me, Ross (who also played Prince Charming) adapted the script to bring it up to date. A scene which mentioned Laurence Llewelyn Bowen was transformed into the Ugly Sisters training for the Olympics with a gym instructor and featured some hilarious antics on space hoppers. We put in a scene which joked about the ‘Prince’s balls’! and Max, Cinderella’s dog, became a much bigger part of the show and his sarcasm and large anti-human speech was remembered fondly.
I was also lucky to have some superb actors and singers and a chorus of fantastic dancers. The songs I chose were some of my favourites including Somebody to Love’ ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and ‘Never Forget’ With a fabulous team of people and a fantastic cast we were able to bring this wonderful panto to life. I was proud that we were the first Quince Player show to sell out all 10 performances which totalled 1800 people! To add to our success we were runners up in the London NODA awards. I remember a couple of years prior, I was Production Assistant for the Quince Players on ‘Daisy Pulls It Off’ – which was also a runner up in the NODA awards. At the ceremony, I turned to Daisy’s director and said that one day my panto would be nominated! Little did I know then what I know now!
Panto has always been a tradition in our family. I remember going to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford many times and seeing some well-known celebrities tread the boards. Pantomime dates back to the middle ages in this country but these days the professional productions cost over £100,000 to put on. Thankfully mine didn’t cost anywhere near that much!
Tickets for this years pantomime ‘Rumpelstiltzkin’ are now on sale through the The Quince Players website or by phoning the box office on 01344 874200.