The Panto season is back...
... cue the boos, hisses, bad jokes, dodgy dames and thigh-slapping boys
Sunday 27 November 2011
Given its status as Britain's one truly original art form, and its noble antecedents – commedia dell'arte, Georgian theatre, Victorian music hall and variety – you might think that pantomime would be paid more respect. Good panto is one of life's great pleasures, but it's still dismissed in some quarters as a "low art", whatever that may mean.
Much of that is snobbery from theatre itself, where some "serious" actors can barely hide their disdain. But most of the blame must go to those producers who maximise ticket sales by casting soap actors, reality-television stars or minor celebrities, who are having their 15 minutes of fame even though they have no discernible talent for acting, dancing or singing.
In the hundreds of shows around the UK this year, Americans are noticeable by their absence, even though David Hasselhoff (not great, but he gets the joke) is back for a second helping. Long gone from cast lists are Australian soap stars, who have been replaced by any number of former participants in reality TV shows, and the odd ex-MP. (Fill in your own joke here.)
Also missing this year is the £100,000-a-week superstar. Cilla Black and Joan Collins were rumoured to have commanded that figure last year. The biggest stars, the ones with their names above the title, usually earn anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000 a week, depending on their pulling power.
Much of panto's appeal lies in its predictability: we know the stories and characters, and indeed can often mouth the punchlines. But it's a poor show that doesn't include topical jokes about notorious names in the news. Expect lots of references to Liam Fox, Silvio Berlusconi and the Greeks, while I'm betting that at least a few Ugly Sisters will be named Beatrice and Eugenie (those royal wedding hats) or even, with a hint of irony, Kate and Pippa.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board and takes four gongs
The Apprentice 2014, episode 3, review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Channel 5 gives Big Brother the cold shoulder
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'