Christmas Pantomimes are a wonderful London tradition, as much a part of the Festive season in the UK as is the Christmas tree and the Christmas turkey. Pantomime developed from the Italian commedia tradition of sixteenth century Italy, as well as seventeenth century British masques, and has a long history in England dating back to the 1800’s. At that time it was a form of “low” opera; a musical comedy performed onstage and designed as family entertainment.
Today’s pantomimes are usually family performances inspired by fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and other traditional children’s stories. They are performed in London at Christmas, with characteristic slapstick, music, dance, cross-dressing, and general buffoonery. Plotlines, taken from well known stories, are adapted to be comic or satirical. Audience participation is actively encouraged.
As with every season, this year Greater London has an array of Pantomimes from which to choose. These include but are by no means limited to:
Dick Whittington – Wilton’s Music Hall, December 1
Hop-on the District line from your Central London Aparthotels in Kensington and Hop-off the Tube at Tower Hill or Aldgate East for this East End panto about Dick Whittington and his cat, starring Roy Hudd and performed in the gloriously restored Wilton’s Music Hall.
Robin Hood – Theatre Royal, Stratford East, December 7
The Theatre Royal Stratford East presents a winning and fun show that follows the prince of thieves and his band of merry men. Robbing the rich to benefit the poor, it’s a raucous romp.
Snow White – Victoria Park, November 28
Located in East London’s Winterville festival fun park, this family friendly hour-long production mixes slapstick with great live music and it is presented by the Tour de Force Theatre Company.
Baddies: The Musical, Unicorn Theatre, until December 24
Across the Thames from the Tower of London, the Unicorn Theatre presents this musical comedy which pits the Ugly Stepsisters, Rumplestiltskin, Captain Hook, and the Big Bad Wolf against the Council of Bedtime Stories, which turns them into goodies. The only problem is, without any baddies, how can anyone know who the goodies are?
Cinderella – Richmond Theatre, Richmond, December 4
Venture west to Richmond Green to enjoy this traditional pantomime starring the very famous Hayley Mills, Matthew Kelly, Matthew Rixon and Chris Jarvis. The sets are lavish, the costumes are spectacular, and there are real Shetland ponies to delight theatregoers.
Other London pantos for the 2015 season include Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Pride and Prejudice, Elf, Ben Hur, The Wizard of Oz, and much more.
Step out from your London serviced apartments in Kensington and catch the Tube or a bus to enjoy a Christmas Panto. It’s a fun and entertaining outing for the entire family, and is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Christmas![:]