I have a hate-love-love relationship with panto. I rarely look forward to it but always enjoy it. The exuberance, the children in the audience’s evident enthusiasm, the costumes, the traditions and joie de vivre all subsume except if I was going to the anti-austerity panto foisted on children by the Lyric Hammersmith.
This cast had a soap star (Samantha Womack), a famous soprano (Lesley Garrett), a comedian and a magician (Pete Firman) with Melody Thornton in the lead role as Cinderella.
Knowing someone well who appears regularly in panto, I can tell you it’s not easy acting. You have to give many performances, sometimes three in a day, you have to know how to work the audience, and sometimes act alongside celebrities who have never learned their trade.
You have to sing, act, dance, deliver comic lines.
Despite the young audience the humour is often bawdy. Yesterday’s performance had a song with smart fellers in every line and of course when one of the kiddies brought on stage to recite them on stage “fart smellers” was mispronounced. Huge guffaws.
Unlike many a modern theatrical performance you leave happier than when you entered. Also as I was staying in Wimbledon we had a 5 minute taxi home.
I fear though for the creeping PC do-gooders who wrote and produced a ‘climate control’ Jack and the Beanstalk or an all female version of Cinderella where the ugly sister falls for Buttons. “Heteronormativity be damned” thundered The Guardian.