In a riot of end of year colour, comedy and song the theatre opens it;s do to a special month and half of performance in the shape of the pantomime. This is usually the reworking of a fairy tale like Cinderella or more modern tales like Peter Pan. They usually draw some very good actors from the small and even big screen to come and play the principal characters. The over top performances of the evil villians, constantly booed, and the spectacle of the Pantomime Dame, a man dressed outrageously as a woman and the principal boy, a young girl wearing a dangerously high outfit and thigh boots, is a staple of the show. It’s also one of the few times the audience are encouraged to participate fully. So before you ask, What is on this year at the Panto in Preston here is a quick history of it and then you can see the Panto Preston line up.
The pantomime has its origins in Italy. The lively street theatre of the Commedia della Art was a popular addition to the Italian market places. The acting was physical and funny. Small companies were formed as they became successful up through Italy and into France.
The characters in the plays were picked up by travelling English playwrights who began to weave them into their own comic plays. The Harlequin, a brightly and tightly clothed hero would get into a series of scraps and adventures being chased all over the stage.
In the Victorian era the pantomime was adapted away from the Harlequin adventures to more modern reworkings for the Music hall. Topical stories and the Principal Boys ankles were also a draw. They moved to the Christmas period and became a mainstay. For many it is their first trip to the theatre.