Celebrating 200 years of “pantomime”

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Jack and the Beanstalk at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Last March celebrated the fact that it has been 200 years since the word “pantomime” was used in the billing of a theatre. On March 2nd, that year, the Theatre Royal in London’s Drury Lane produced a show called The Maid’s Tragedy which was described in an advertisement in the Daily Courant as …”being after the manner of the Ancient Pantomimes.”

Since that time pantomimes have evolved into what some people describe it as a peculiarly British form of entertainment although many countries also feature it in the same format that we do. It has become so popular despite formats being similar that millions attend professional, amateur and school pantomimes each year. It is said that if a theatre has a good panto then it can keep the theatre financially afloat for much of the following year.

Coach operators lay on trips to popular pantomimes making it an important part of the tours they offer. As such pantomimes have become part of the tourism offering with people not just watching a panto but staying in a hotel overnight. It certainly isn’t just for children because the scripts are written in such a way that they can be enjoyed on two levels. A good panto will have asides to the adults that will go over the head of children.

Cinderella at the Corn Exchange in Exeter

People argue about what makes a good panto. For me, the dame is the key and a good dame can significantly affect a show.  It must be a man of course, just like I think that the principal boy should be always be a girl.

In York at the Theatre Royal, Berwick Kalor will be appearing as the dame in Jack and the Beanstalk. Regarded by many as the finest dame on the pantomime circuit at the moment, he brings in thousands of visitors to York to see the pantomime and thus benefits not just the theatre but the local shops, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions.  For many years, Clive Rowe was the dame at the Hackney Empire in London but this year – after a break of a few years. He is the dame in, coincidentally, Jack and the Beanstalk at the New Wimbledon Theatre in south London. He is more in the tradition of the last hundred years of comedians or comic actors playing the dame and follows in the tradition of some long forgotten dames like Arthur Askey, Norman Evans, Danny la Rue and George Lacy and the greatest of all them all ( no, I’m not that old to have seen him on stage) , Dan Leno. Christopher Biggins is another who has successfully followed in the tradition and attracts visitors because of his skill at playing dame as does  regular John Linehan (or should I say May McFettridge) in Belfast.

Snow White at the Theatre Royal in Bath

The last sixty years has seen the necessary ingredient of a pop star or soap tv star appearing on the bill. Cliff Richard, Cilla Black and Frankie Vaughan all played the principal boy part. What eighties or nineties panto existed without a character from either of the Aussie soaps, Neighbours or Home & Away? That new tradition continues although some of the actors may have had their fame in the spotlight a few years ago but then hasn’t that become traditional as well>

This year celebrities continue to hog the limelight with the specialists. Debbie McGee and Brian Conley (another panto veteran) both have panto commitments that clash with their appearances on Strictly Come Dancing. The link with Strictly cannot harm bookings for the theatres lucky enough to have booked these two.

In honour of the 200th anniversary of the use of the word “pantomime” here is a list of some of pantos being held this season along with a link to the booking website and the main actors and actresses that will be appearing in them.

Aberdeen, Aladdin, His Majesty’s, Stars Jimmy Osmond, Alan McHugh, 2nd December – 7th January

Barrow-in-Furness, Cinderella; The Forum, Stars Emily Dodd, Cameron Patmore, Bill Sharpe. 13th-30th December.

Basingstoke, Peter Pan, Anvil Theatre, Stars Andrew Agnew, Gary Turner, Jessica Punch, Sarah Louise Day, 14th December – 7th January.

Bath, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Theatre Royal, Stars, Harriet Thorpe, Nick Wilton, Jon Monie, 7th December – 7th January,

Belfast, Peter Pan; Grand Opera House, Stars May McFettridge, Claire King, David Bedella, Paddy Jenkins.  2nd December-14th January

Belfast, The Spectacular Aladdin; The SSE Arena, Belfast, Stars Rhydian, Jake Carter, Nadia Forde, Nuala McKeever and Ross Anderson-Doherty. 14th-27th December.

Birmingham, Cinderella, Hippodrome, Stars Beverley Knight, Danny Mac, Suzanne Shaw, The Grumbleweeds,  19th December – 28th January.

Blackpool, Peter Pan, Winter Gardens, Stars Jennifer Ellison, Maureen Nolan, Jake Quickenden, 16th December –  7th January.

Blackwood, Jack & the Beanstalk, Miner’s Institute, stars Owen Money, 6-30th December

Bolton, Cinderella, The Albert Halls,  Stars Katy Ashworth, David Heath,  Aiden J Harvey, 2nd-31st December.

Bradford, Cinderella, Alhambra, Stars Billy Pearce, Coleen Nolan, Shane Nolan, 16th December – 28th January.

Bristol, Aladdin, Hippodrome, Stars Joe Pasquale, Marty Pellow,Hayley Tamaddon. 9th December – 7th January.

Bromley, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Churhill Theatre, Stars Jessie Wallace, 2nd-31st December

Cambridge, Jack & the Beanstalk, Arts Theatre, Stars Tony Christie, Liza Goddard, Stephen Beckett. 30th November – 7th Jauary.

Canterbury, Peter Pan, Marlowe Theatre, Stars Shaun Williamson, Wendi Peters, Gemma Hunt, 24th November – 14th January.

Cardiff, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, New Theatre, Stars Samantha Womack, Gareth Thomas, Mike Doyle, 9th December – 14th January.

Chesterfield, Peter Pan, Pomegranate Theatre, Stars Sam Attwater, Kelli Young, 2nd December – 2nd January.

Colchester, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Mercury Theatre. Stars Dale Superville, Antony Stuart-Hicks,  25th  November-14th January.

Cork, Beauty & the Beast, Everyman Theatre, Stars Keith Hanley, Niamh O’Mahony, Ciarán Birmingham, Michael Sands, Kelly-Ann Murphy, Fionula Linehan. 9th December-14th January

Cork, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Cork Opera House,  Stars Frank Mackey, Phoebe Dipple, Shirley McCarthy, 30th November  –21st January.

Coventry, Cinderella, Belgrade Theate, Stars Iain Lauchlan, Greg Powrie, 22nd November-13th January.

Crewe, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Lyceum Theatre, Stars Cannon & Ball, 16th December – 7th January.

Darlington, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Hippodrome, Stars Lee Ryan, Eric Potts, Zoe Birkett, 9th December – 14th January

Dartford, Cinderella, The Orchard Theatre, Stars Louie Spence, Michelle Collins, 9th-31st December

Derby, Beauty and the Beast, Arena, Stars Gwen Taylor, Ben Faulks, Morgan  Brind,  5th-31st December

Dublin, Polly & the Beanstalk; Olympia Theatre, Stars Rory Cowan, Ryan Andrews, Michaela O’Neill.                 15th December 2017 to 7th January.

Dublin, Rapunzel; Gaiety Theatre, Stars Joe Conlan, Ciara Lyons,  Johnny Ward and Nicholas Grennell. 26th November-7th January.

Dundee, Sleeping Beauty, Gardyme Theatre, Stars Karen Bartke, Tom Urie 9th December-6th January.

Dunfermline, Jack & the Beanstalk, Alhambra, Stars Billy Mac, 8th-27th December.

Dunstable, Sleeping Beauty; Grove Theatre. Stars John Partridge, Sally Lindsay, Rebecca Keatley, 8th December-2nd January.

Eastbourne, Dick Whittington and His Cat, Devonshire Park Theatre, Starring Todd Carty, Martyn Knight, Tucker, 8th December -14th January.

Edinburgh, Cinderella, King’s Theatre, Stars Allan Stewart, Andy Gray, Grant Stotts, 2nd December – 21st January

Exeter, Cinderella, Corn Exchange, Stars Daniel Page, Samantha Antoinette Smith, 9th December -1st January

Exeter, Dick Whittington, Northcott Theatre, Stars Steve Bennett, 2nd December-7th January.

Folkestone, Cinderella, Leas Cliff Hall, Stars Paul Kettley, Robin Hancock, 13th-30th December

Glasgow, The Wizard of Never Woz, Pavilion Theatre,  Stars Dean Park, Joyce Falconer, Chrstian, Liam Dolan,  30 November – 14th January.

Glasgow, Sleeping Beauty, King’s Stars Elaine C. Smith, Johnny Mac, 2nd December – 7th January.

Glasgow, Jack & the Beanstalk, SECC, Stars Gary: Tank Commander, The Dolls, 16th December-7th January.

Greenock, Snow White, Beacon Arts Centre, Stars Jane McCarry, Mark Cox, 8th-31st December.

Grimsby, Cinderella, Auditorium, Stars Jon Clegg, 15th-28th of December

Guildford, Dick Whittington, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Stars Judy Corwall, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Peter Gordon,  8th December – 7th January.

Halifax, Aladdin, Victoria Theatre, Stars Neil Hurst, Adam Stafford, December 16th-January 6th

Hayes, Aladdin, Beck Theatre, Stars Rita Simons, 9th-31st December

Hereford, Sleeping Beauty, Courtyard, Stars Phylip Harries, 25th November -6th January

High Wycombe, Jack & the Beanstalk, Wycombe Swan. Stars Simon Webbe, Ashleigh Butler, Chris Jarvis,  Nigel Ellacott. 9th-31st December.

Hull, Peter Pan, New Theatre, Stars Darren Day, Brendan Sheerin, Charlie Hardwick, 7th-31st December.

Ilford, Peter Pan, Kenneth More Theatre, Stars  Marc Seymour, 9th December – 13th January.

Inverness, Snow White, Eden Court, Stars Steven Wren, Ross Allan, Marj Hogarth,

Ipswich, Jack & the Beanstalk, Regent Theatre, Stars George Sampson, Roxanne Pallett, Connor Byrne, 16th December – 2nd January.

Kilmarnock, Dick Whittington, Palace Theatre,  Stars Fraser Boyle, Gary Morrison, Sally Howitt, November 25th-December 30th.

Kirkaldy, Aladdin, Adam Smith Theatre, Stars Gordon Brandie, Kim Shepherd, 9th December – 6th January

Leamington Spa, Sleeping Beauty, Royal Spa Centre, Stars JP McCue, Sean Dodds, Sally Peerless, December 2nd-30th.

Leicester, Beauty & the Beast, de Montfort Hall, Stars Richard McCourt, David Lonsdale, Sam Bailey, 16th December-7th January

Liverpool, Aladdin, Echo Arena, Stars Dean Sullivan, Michael Auger, Ruby Murry,  15th-24th December.

Liverpool, Cinderella, Empire, Stars Duncan James, Jodie Prenger, John Evans, 16th December – 7th January.

Leeds, Aladdin – The Rock ‘n Roll Panto, City Varieties, Stars Alex Wingfield, Justin Brett, Dan Bottomley     24th November – 7th January.

Llandudno, Peter Pan, Venue Cymru, Stars Ryan Thomas, Pauline Daniels, Andy Jones,  9th-31st December.

London, Rapunzel, Chickenshed Rayne Theatre, 22nd November – 6th January

London, Cinderella, Hackney Empire, stars Aisha Jawando, Darren Hart, Stephane Anelli, Tony Whittle, Kat B,  21st November -31st December

London, Jack & the Beanstalk, Lyric -Hammersmith, Stars Faith Omole, Kraig Thornber, Vikki Stone, Cherelle Skeet, 18th November -6th January.

London, King Tut – A Pyramid Panto, King’s Head Theatre, Stars Matthew Kellett, 24th November-6th January

London, Dick Whittington, Palladium, Stars Julian Clary, Elaine Paige, Gary Wilmot, Nigel Havers, Diversity,  9th Decemmber – 7th January.

London, Jack & the Beanstalk, Shaw Theatre Stars Dani Harmer, Peter Amory, 9th-30th December

Manchester, Sleeping Beauty, Middleton Arena, Stars Kerry Katona, Wink Taylor, Miles Walker, 30th November -27th December.

Manchester, Dick Whittington, Opera House, stars, John Barrowman, The Krankies, 9th December – 7th January.

Margate, The Wizard of Oz, Theatre Royal, Stars Georgia Rowland-Elliott, 9th-31st December

Milton Keynes, Cinderella, Milton Keynes Theatre. Stars Brian Conley, Gok Wan. 9th December – 14th January.

Mold, Sleeping Beauty, Theatr Clwyd, Stars David Heywood, James Ifan, Lynwen Haf Roberts, 24th November – 20th January.

Newark, Beauty & the Beast, Palace Theatre, Stars Jonathan Wrather , Tim Freeman, Ryan Willis, 8th December-January 3rd

New Brighton, Peter Pan, Floral Pavilion, Stars Marc Baylis, Dan Wright, 9th December – 7th January.

Newcastle, Jack & the Beanstalk, Times Square Stars Denise Welsh, Adam Thomas, 11th-30th December.

Newcastle, Peter Pan, Theatre Royal, Stars Danny Adams, Clive Webb, Chris Hayward, 28th November – 21st January.

Newcastle, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Theatre & Opera House, Stars Michelle Heaton, Matt Pagan, Danny Posthill, 8th-31st December.

Newport, Aladdin, Riverfront,  5th December – 7th January

Northampton, Aladdin, Royal Derngate,  Stars Paul Nicholas, Jaymi Hensley, Sheila Ferguson, 8th-31st December

Northwich, Aladdin, Memorial Court, Stars Vicky Michelle,Charles Lawson, Ronan Parke. 9-24th December.

Norwich, Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, Stars Derek Griffiths, Gillian Wright, Richard Gauntlett, 13th December – 14th January

Nottingham, Beauty & the Beast, Theatre Royal, Stars Sherrie Hewson, Ben Richards, Andrew Ryan,  Ben Nickless, 9th december – 14th January.

Oxford, Jack & the Beanstalk, Oxford Playhouse, 24th November – 7th January

Perth, Aladdin, Perth Theatre,  9th December – 6th January.

Plymouth, Peter Pan, Theatre Royal, Stars Steve McFadden, Andy Ford, 15th December – 13th January.

Porthcawl, Cinderella, Grand Pavilion, Stars Jolyon Dixon, Nathan Guy, Jeremy Cave, 16th December – 7th January.

Portsmouth, Snow White, Kings Theatre, Stars Melinda Messenger, Anita Harris, 5th December -January 1st

Preston, Aladdin, Guildhall, Stars Paul Zenon, Carl Tracey, 7th December -3rd January

Reading, Peter Pan, The Hexagon; Stars Justin Fetcher, Paul Morse. 9th December – 7th January

Redhill, Peter Pan, Harlequin Theatre, Stars Dave Myers, Neil Wheatley, Simon Bashford,  Abigail Welford. 8th– 31st December

Richmond, Aladdin, Richmond Theatre, Stars Christopher Biggins, Count Arthur Strong, Issy Van Randwyck, 9th December – 14th January.

Salisbury, Jack & the Beanstalk, Playhouse, Stars Richard Ede, 2nd December – 7th January.

Sheffield, Mother Goose, Crucible Lyceum Studo, Stars Jake Canuso, Damian Williams, Andy Day, 8t December – 7th January.

Shrewsbury, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Theatre Severn, Stars Brad Fitt, Eric Smith, 29th November-January 7th.

Southampton, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Mayflower, Stars Craig Revel Horwood,  The Chuckle Brothers, 15th December -7th January.

Southend, Jack & the Beanstalk, Cliffs Pavilion Stars, Bobby Davro, Lee Mead,  16th December -7th January.

Southport, Cinderella, Theatre & Convention Centre, Stars Sam Kane, Toni Howard, Jason Marc-Williams, Alistair Barron, 15th December – 6th January.

St Albans, Aladdin, Arena, Stars Karl Howman, Phil Gallagher, Bob Golding, 7th December – 7th January.

Stoke-on-Trent, Aladdin, Regent Theatre, Stars Jonathan Wilkes,  Christian Patterson, 15th December – 7th January.

Swansea, Aladdin, Grand Theatre, Stars Tony Maudsley, Kevin Johns, Matt Edwards, 15th December – 14th January.

Swindon, Peter Pan, Wyvern Theatre, Stars Adam Woodyatt, 2nd-31st December

Truro, Sleeping Beauty, Hall for Cornwall, Stars Edward ‘Kernow King’ Rowe, Granville Saxton, 5th-31st December.

Tunbridge Wells, Aladdin, Assembly Rooms, Stars Michael Greco, Jess Robinson, 8th December – 3rd January.

Wakefield, Aladdin, Theatre Royal, Stars Chris Hannon, 23rd November – 7th January.

Weston-Super-Mare, Aladdin, The Playhouse, Stars John Altman, David Rumelle, 9th-31st December.

Whitley Bay, Cinderella, Playhouse, Stars Ray Quinn, Steve Walls, 2nd December – 7th January.

Wimbledon, Jack & the Beanstalk, New Wimbledon Theatre, Stars Al Murray, Clive Rowe, 9th Decmber – 14th January

Windsor, Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, Stars, Mike Read, Basil Brush, Jenny Ryan, Denise Pearson, Steven Blakeley. 29th November- 7th January

Woking, Robin Hood, New Victoria Theatre, Stars Shane Ritchie, Peter Piper, 9th December – 7th January.

Wolverhampton, Jack & the Beanstalk, Grand Theatre, Stars Gareth Gates, Lisa Riley, Doreen Tipton, Graham Cole,  9th December – 14th January.

Worcester, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Theatre, Stars Ben Humphrey, Liz Grand,  4th December – 7th January.

Worthing, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Pavilion Theatre, Stars Chesney Hawkes,  Richard David-Caine, Joseph Elliott,  1st December – 1st January

York, Beauty & the Beast, Grand Opera House, Stars Antony Costa, Lynne McGranger, Ken Morley, Debbie McGee, 15th December – 7th January.

York, Jack & the Beanstalk, Theatre Royal, Stars Berwick Kaler, 14th December – 3rd February

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