Friday, April 03, 2009

Put on Your Christmas Panto (12/21/06)

Every winter across the British Isles eyes light up in anticipation of one thing: It's panto season! But those lit-up eyes aren't those of kids; they're those of washed-up TV stars and C-list celebrities who know they'll be able to get a few weeks work in a Christmas Pantomime. Panto is an art form that is virtually unique to the U.K. They're almost always based on fairy tales (one site lists over 50 professional productions of "Cinderella" alone), and feature comely lasses playing the principal boys, male actors in drag as evil stepmothers, double entendres, and loads of audience participation. Pantos may not be Shakespeare, but they've drawn everyone from Ian McKellan and Danny Kaye to May McFettridge and Joe Pasquale. Some performers may think they're too big for panto, but if all you're looking for is a few songs, a few jokes, and a good night out, you could do worse.

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