Look Behind You!

Panto Season: What makes a great panto and where to see one

Richmond Theatre Aladdin

Panto dames across town are dusting off their whalebone skirts, carefully applying beauty spots and encasing their heads in platinum blond wigs. There are some key ingredients for a great panto: 

1. It must feel local. You want to get a sense of being part of a community. And not necessarily in an old fashioned 'village' way, though we don't object to a bit of Ye Olde panto

2. There must be good audience participation - at least one hapless dad on stage having had an Ugly Sister make eyes at him throughout the first Act. Lots of booing at the entrance of the baddie and a chorus of ‘Oh No He’s Not’ and ‘Look Behind You’ at regular intervals.

And a panto is not a panto if at some point a roll of lyrics doesn't come down the back of the stage and the audience is divided in two to see which side can sing the loudest.

3. It mustn't take itself too seriously. Panto works best when it isn’t too slick and the actors look like they are enjoying themselves. Costume malfunctions and desperately trying not to get the giggles only add to the enjoyment.

We saw three shows last week that ticked all the boxes for a great night. Click on the show name for our full reviews and to book tickets.

Cinderella and her glass slipper are at the East End home of panto, the Hackney Empire. Annie took her mum and her 9 year old twins and a teenager and they all had a good time.

Hackney Empire Cinderella

Emily headed south to Greenwich for a second Cinderella on a smaller scale but from a master panto writer who knows his trade.

Cinderella Greenwich Theatre

Emily’s second outing was closer to home – to the Lyric Hammersmith. Their Jack & the Beanstalk had her family on their feet and she reckons that Jill (Jack’s love interest) is one to watch.

Jack and the Beanstalk Lyric Hammersmith

Coming up early next month are Aladdin at Richmond with Christopher Biggins, while there is a second Jack and the Beanstalk at the New Wimbledon. The big one is a star-studded Dick Whittington at the Palladium with Julian Cleary and Elaine Paige. This is best for older kids. Expect innuendo overload.

We will be reviewing them as they open so do check back and we would love to know what you think.

Complete the online review and we will send a parcel of Christmas goodies to our review of the week.