It’s panto time. Why do you go?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

After 40 years, Berwick Kalor is hanging up his frock

A few days ago Just about Travel printed the details of over 120 pantomimes being performed throughout the UK and Ireland.

As part of Christmas as an over-indulgence in food and an almost two week shutdown in business, pantomimes are a peculiar form of art appealing to audiences. Although they are produced in other countries, there are never so many nor is there the same atmosphere.

Some pantos began in the last fortnight of November. Some – even in major towns like Hastings – don’t begin until the middle of this month. A few even last until February.

There are dozens we haven’t included largely because we don’t know about them. Theatres are welcome to send details at editor@justabouttravel.net and we’ll happily include them with a link to bookings. In true Christmas spirit this won’t cost a thing!

Cinderella seems the most popular panto this Christmas according to our straw poll but with all the amateur as well as professional companies this may not reflect the true popularity of pantos this season. Aladdin is probably the next most popular.

As usual there are a number of television and pop stars that are fronting shows but quite often it is the supporting cast that really makes the panto zing. Old hands who have been playing dame characters or their foils like Smee in Peter Pan, Wishee Washee in Aladdin  or Buttons in Cinderella are the backbone of an industry that might use headliners to draw us in but rely on the old hands to deliver the goods. I’m thinking of people like Christopher Beeney, “May McFettridge,” Clive Rowe (he’s back in what seems his natural panto home, the Hackney Empire) and the current doyen, Berwick Kaler who is making his final appearance as a dame in the York, Theatre Royal production called The Grand Old Dame of York!

As usual there are some oddities for want of a better word. The ex-MP, Ann Widdecombe is appearing at Redhill’s Harlequin Theatre in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! She plays the Wicked Queen with asides from her roles in Strictly and a few parliamentary comments.

Do you visit pantos for the “names” or the stalwarts who make the shows hum? It doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy them. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without visitig at least one.

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