I just love Panto Season…I mean the StageAbility Pantomime season of course! As I write this, 34 cast members and their supporting team are looking forward to the tech rehearsal for Cinderella at the end of the week, ready to perform two shows on Saturday to a packed house. And the cast really deserve it.
It’s always so rewarding seeing a project come together from scratch; from those first rehearsals when the cast barely know the songs and are stumbling over their lines, right through to the final run throughs when those same lines are being delivered with a flourish and the cast are now firm friends when they started as strangers. It makes my heart swell and I feel privileged to do this job, even if there are strains and stresses along the way!
But there’s something different about the pantomime – and that’s the audience.
The first indication of this is when I’m putting together the show programme. We offer parents and carers the chance to have a ‘Break A Leg’ message printed in the programme on a special page full of good wishes to the cast. Every year it gets me. There I am, happily typing them in and, all of a sudden, it washes over me just how much love and support there is for these kids! All these beautiful messages sending love and luck to the children is so special and again, it’s a privilege to witness it and be part of it.
Going to the theatre at Christmas is perhaps more popular than at any other time of the year – and may be the only time that some families go. This means we always get a full house – or nearly full house – for panto which is brilliant. We get babies, toddlers, mums and dads, grandparents and sometimes great grandparents! And all that pent up tension – I’m talking about the families here, not the cast! – is let out vocally to show their support. The cheering, booing and ‘behind you-ing’ yelled from the auditorium lifts the cast even more than usual and it is just brilliant to witness.
It’s one of those shows that you walk out of with your hands glowing from excessive clapping and you just can’t stop smiling. I think that’s called the feel-good factor.
Reading this back, I worry that it might come over a bit gushy, which isn’t really me, but the StageAbility Pantomime really does mark the beginning of Christmas for me, with all the good will and love that goes with it.
If you’re coming along to watch this year, I can’t wait to welcome you. But if you haven’t managed to get tickets yet, make sure you put Sunday 14th May in your diary for next year because that’s when we shall be presenting Shrek the Musical!
If you have a child who would like to join our cast, make sure you join our mailing list – the link is here on our website – or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see when it is announced.
Now, let’s put on a show!