Pantos are not only for children!

A trip to see a panto is as much a traditional part of the festive season as turkey and Christmas pud.

What makes a panto special?  The obvious answer is the children’s enjoyment, but also it’s a chance for the grown-ups to get unashamedly nostalgic, forget dignity and inhibitions and to join in the fun. And of course, there’s always a happy ending!

Here’s a guide to the region’s pantos this year:

Ipswich – Wolsey Theatre, Civic Drive,

Cinderella – the Rock’n’Roll Panto
29th Nov 2018 to 2nd Feb 2019

Felixstowe –  Spa Pavilion, Undercliff Road West

Sleeping Beauty

21st Dec 2018 to 6th Jan 2019

Bury St Edmunds – Theatre Royal Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1QR
Sleeping Beauty

30th Nov 2018 to 13th Jan 2019

Sudbury – The Quay Theatre

Robin Hood

15th Dec 2018 to 1st Jan 2019

 Lowestoft – The Marina Theatre

Peter Pan

13th Dec 2018 to 1st Jan 2019

Ipswich – Regent Theatre, 3 St Helens Street

Snow White

14th Dec 2018 to 2nd Jan 2019

 Norwich – Theatre Royal

Aladdin

2th Dec 2018 – 13th Jan 2019

Colchester – Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate,

Jack and the Beanstalk

24th Nov 2018 to 20th Jan 2019

A few fascinating facts about the panto tradition

In the early 1800s, the pantomime’s traditional stories were adapted from European fairy tales, classic English literature or nursery rhymes.

Traditional elements in the panto:

The leading male juvenile character, called the principal boy, usually played by a young woman.

An older woman, the pantomime dame, often the hero’s mother and usually played by a man in drag.

Audience participation, including calls of “He’s behind you!” and “Oh, yes it is!” and “Oh, no it isn’t!” The audience is always encouraged to hiss the villain and show sympathy for victims, such as the rejected dame.

Music, an essential part of the show and there is usually at least one “audience participation” song with one half of the audience challenged to sing “their” chorus louder than the other half.

The animal, often a pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.

The good fairy enters from stage right (from the audience’s point of view this is on the left) and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). This tradition goes back to the medieval mystery plays where heaven is on the right and hell is on the left.