From panto villain to grown up fan...
My kids have been constantly reminding me all week that panto season is about to start once again.
‘Oh no it isn’t....oh yes it is’, I hear you cry.
I took them last year for the first time, and I must admit I was the one not looking forward to it in the slightest.
It stems from the fact that I never went to pantos when I was a kid.
Well, to be honest, I did go to one when I was five or six years old, but it was such a traumatic experience, I never went back.
Traumatic for my mum as I, according to a well worn family story, was a right horror, climbing under seats, tearing up and down the aisles and generally not giving a monkey’s about the show my mum had paid hard earned money for us to see.
I’ve been told that if there had been such a thing as an ASBO back then, I would have got it!
Hence, panto season never appeared on the Henderson family calendar growing up.
Until last Christmas that is.
But even then the thought of Jack and The Beanstalk fused with a wild west / country and western twist, filled me with absolute dread.
I don’t mind telling anyone, I can’t stand country or western music.
Anyway, I took the family and it has to be said, my initial, and quite justifiable apathy very quickly evaporated as I spent the next two and a half hours soaking up every aspect of the whole panto experience.
My wife said it had taken me until ‘middle age’ to enjoy what I really should have been reveling in when six.
Whatever, it was worth the wait.
From the first call of ‘he’s behind you’, to the booing of the baddie, and the panto dame throwing sweets out to the audience, I watched spellbound.
Jokes for the adults and well as the kids and never a moment to catch your breath.
And all very British too.
Ask an American do they know what a pantomime is and most think it’s mute actors pretending to be stuck in an invisible box.
The two American guests either side of Dawn French on last Friday’s Graham Norton TV show said exactly that.
In fact, the origins of traditional pantomime can be traced back to the Romans and the latin word pantomimus, roughlymeaning a dancer who plays all the roles of a story.
The British approximation, taking influence from Italian theatre, goes back to the 16th century and developed significantly into what we know today, in the 18th and early 19th century.
Drawing largely from the musical theatre tradition and growing into a form of stage entertainment , slapstick and general bafoonery we know love today.
This week we are off to see Sleeping Beauty and I’ve already been practicing my booing and hissing of the panto villain and seem even more excited than my five and seven-year-old daughters.
All a far cry from me back in 1976 terrrorising my mum at the Opera House in Manchester at the infamous performance of Mother Goose.