Ten key ingredients that make up a great pantomime

News 9 December 2022
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Pantomime is one of the most traditional and beloved forms of theatre. Its hilarious gags, catchy songs, gender role reversal and slapstick comedy make it great entertainment for all ages. But what makes a great pantomime? Here we've compiled the ten key ingredients that make up a greatpantomime.

1.A Story of Good Versus Evil

Not only should a pantomime have a plot that's crystal clear to the whole audience from the start it also needs to centre around good versus evil. Audiences want to see believable goodies and baddies they can cheer on and boo that culminates in the good characters defeating thevillain (or at least showing them the error of their ways).

2.Family Friendly Jokes

The best pantos manage to deliver jokes that both kids and adults will appreciate. There can often be a fine line between what's funny and what's rude, and pantomime certainly likes to flirt with this line. Much pantomime comedy is based on the battle between pun and innuendo, but delivering the right jokes for the audience is crucial. Even in adult panto, smut is rarely funny and most adult jokes can just come across as rude.

3.Larger Than Life Characters

Much of the magic of pantomime comes from the larger-than-life characters. They deliver a sense of potential jeopardy and comedy simultaneously, which helps to make pantomimes so entertaining to watch. Every panto should always have an array of colourful characters ready to steal the show. After all, pantomime wouldn’t be the same without a:

  • Dame
  • Fairy
  • Comic
  • Baddie
  • Principle Girl
  • Principle Boy
  • Comedy Duo
  • The Squire
  • The Henchman
  • Magical Creatures

4.Colourful Costumes

Not only do the characters need to be larger than life so do their costumes. Part of the joy of watching panto is seeing the eclectic array of costumes on stage that boast bold colours, bright patterns and plenty of glitter and glam. Anything goes with panto costumes as long as they can facilitate quick changes between scenes.

5.A Flamboyant Panto Dame

One of the first things many people think about when it comes to panto is the magnificent panto dame. While the dame must be larger than life, she's also pantomime's lynchpin and is responsible for both the show's biggest comedic moments and getting the audience involved – "Oh yes, she is!".

6.A Good Baddie

While every pantomime needs a dame, they also need a really good villain. Panto baddies are always over-the-top characters that get the audience laughing and riled up simultaneously, encouraging the audience to participate with boos and cheers.

7.Lots Of Audience Participation

One of the most popular parts of watching a pantomime is being able to get involved in the show. Whether it's booing the baddies, cheering on the hero, shouting, "He's behind you", or "Oh no, she isn't". It makes the audience feel part of the show and helps to ensure that good always overcomes evil.

8.A Great Cast Of Actors

A pantomime is only as good as its cast. A great panto needs a cast of fantastic actors that can deliver a charming hero to make the audience cheer to a chilling villain that will get everyone booing and hissing (but not frighten the children).

9.Slapstick Comedy

Pantomime wouldn't be the same without a good helping of hilarious slapstick comedy. This type of comedic performance is synonymous with panto and often characterised by absurd situations, vigorous actions, over-the-top expressions, squirting water, and even throwing custard pies.

10.Fairytale With A Twist

And finally, a key ingredient of a great pantomime is undoubtedly its ability to draw its stories from well-known fairy tales. Panto brings these popular stories from our childhoods to life on the stage with a panto twist.

If you are looking forward to panto season, make sure you don’t miss out by booking your tickets to watch [Venue]? production of [panto name]. With an amazing cast of characters ready to entertain, it’s not to be missed!

If this has whetted your appetite for seeing a pantomime this year, why not book your ticketsto watch Beauty and the Beast at Bournemouth Pavilion.