Oh No It Isn’t! America Discovers Panto



Every winter for the past 300 years Britain has been putting up with pantomimes. They’re a rite of growing up; the chance to sit with a thousand screaming, sticky-faced anklebiters and their parents while some washed-up TV actors and one-hit singers (Susan ‘Bobby’s Girl’ Maughan! Denise Nolan! Bobby Davro!) ham their way through a script that is both puerile and filthy, filled with songs and set-pieces (Singalong! Wallpapering!).

Then there was a bit of a sea-change. Screen legend Mickey Rooney started turning up in Kent doing panto. Pamela Anderson went west and Steve Guttenburg was in Bromley. And now the son of the British ‘American Idol’ producer has found himself with a smash-hit on his hands in California by bringing them panto.

Only there are some key differences to the traditional British pantomime. Rather than settling on single tales like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and ‘Babes In The Wood’ (which could probably do with retitling anyway, after Rolf Harris) they’ve come up with ‘The Princess and Pirates Sing-a-Long Concert’, featuring characters from the Grimm stories including Snow White, as well as guest appearances from Cinderella and Robin Hood, brought to life by cast members from shows like ‘Glee’ and from Broadway musicals.

Although they’ve added plenty of local references, they’ve taken out all the smut, sexiness and crudity, and there’s no interactivity. Designed as an introduction to new panto-goers, the producer says it’s a feelgood nonstop singalong, and the kids know most of the songs, from Katy Perry to Bruno Mars.

They hope to bring the new Americanised style to the UK soon.

2 comments on “Oh No It Isn’t! America Discovers Panto”

  1. Mim says:

    I sincerely hope they don’t. The current trend in Britain for having a male playing the Principal Boy annoys me more than I can say, and that’s bad enough…

  2. John Griffin says:

    Please, no. Having said that, British panto went tits-up some years ago, only being kept going by heroes such as Kenneth Alan Taylor (retired last year from Nottinghm Playhouse).

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