The Christmas Pantomime colour lithograph bookcover, 1890, showing the harlequinade characters

Pantomime (informally, panto)— not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the Christmas and New Year season.[1] The word derives from the Greek "παντόμιμος" (pantomimos), "pantomimic actor"[2] and that from "παντός" (pantos), genitive of "πᾶς" (pas), "every, all"[3] + "μῖμος" (mimos), "imitator, actor".[4]



A 'pantomime' in Ancient Greece was originally a group who 'imitates all' accompanied by sung narrative and instrumental music, often played on the flute. The word later came to be applied to the performance itself.[5] The pantomime was a popular form of entertainment in ancient Greece and later, Rome. Like theatre, it encompassed the genres of comedy, tragedy, and sex. No ancient pantomime libretto has survived, partly because the genre was looked down upon by the literary elite. Nonetheless, notable ancient poets such as Lucan wrote for the pantomime, no doubt in part because the work was well paid.[6] In a speech of the late 1st century AD now lost, the orator Aelius Aristides condemned the pantomime for its erotic content and the 'effeminacy' of its dancing.[7]

In the Middle Ages, the Mummers Play was a traditional British folk play performed during the festive gatherings of both urban and rural communities and contain many of the archetypal elements of the contemporary 'pantomime' such as stage fights, coarse humour and fantastic creatures. It is often claimed that many of these elements are the cultural remnants of pre Christian beliefs. The gender role reversal resembles the old festival of Twelfth Night, a combination of Epiphany and midwinter feast, when it was customary for the natural order of things to be reversed. This tradition is sometimes traced back to pre-Christian European festivals such as Samhain and Saturnalia. The pantomime horse may also be related to the Grey Mare of the British cult of the goddess Epona as it frequently surfaces in traditional British culture from Wales, Devon, Cornwall (see Obby Oss), Brittany and other parts of England.

The style and content of modern pantomime also have very clear and strong links with the continental Commedia dell'arte, a form of popular theatre that arose in Italy in the Early Modern Period, and reached England by the 16th century. A 'comedy of professional artists' travelling from province to province in Italy and then France improvised and told stories which told lessons to the crowd, changing the main character depending on where they were performing. The great clown Grimaldi transformed the format. Each story had the same fixed characters: the lovers, father, servants (one being crafty and the other stupid), etc. These roles/characters can be found in today's pantomimes.

John Rich as Harlequin, c. 1720

Development as a distinctly English entertainment

See also Harlequinade

The pantomime first arrived in England as entr'actes between opera pieces, eventually evolving into separate shows.

In Restoration England, a pantomime was considered a low form of opera, rather like the Commedia dell'arte but without Harlequin (rather like the French Vaudeville). In 1717, actor and manager John Rich introduced Harlequin to the British stage under the name of 'Lun' (for 'lunatic') and began performing wildly popular pantomimes. These pantomimes gradually became more topical and comic, often involving as many special theatrical effects as possible. Colley Cibber and his colleagues competed with Rich and produced their own pantomimes, and pantomime was a substantial (if decried) subgenre in Augustan drama. According to some sources, the Lincoln's Inn Field Theatre and the Drury Lane Theatre were the first to stage something like real pantomimes (in the later sense that has become codified with its fairly rigid set of conventions), creating high competition between them to put on the more elaborate show. As manager of Drury Lane in the 1870s, Augustus Harris is now considered the father of modern pantomime. These pantomimes were followed by, or incorporated, a Harlequinade.

There seems to be some disagreement among scholars as to exactly when the true pantomime genre got started. According to one eminent authority, Russell A. Peck, the John Hall Deane Professor of English at the University of Rochester,[8] 'The first Cinderella Pantomime in England was the 1804 production at Drury Lane, Dir. Mr. Byrne,'[9] with music by Michael Kelly (1762–1826). This date would seem too early for panto in its mature form, with its extensive adherence to a set of conventions, including the pantomime dame role, the principal boy played by a young woman, the animal-costume roles, audience participation, etc. But, if Peck means that this was the first pantomime in England in the older sense of 'low opera', then his date seems too late, for he seems to disregard the fact that pantomime as 'low opera' had already arisen in Restoration-era England, considerably prior to 1804. Even limiting this claim to Cinderella, one finds that other sources give 1870 as the date of the first Cinderella pantomime in England (see below).

Pantomime traditions and conventions

Traditionally performed at Christmas, with family audiences, British pantomime is now a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo.

Traditional stories

Panto story lines and scripts usually make no direct reference to Christmas, and are almost always based on traditional children's stories, including the fairy tales of Charles Perrault, Joseph Jacobs, Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm Brothers - not to mention tales from the Arabian Nights. While the familiarity of the audience with the original story is generally assumed, plot lines are almost always 'adapted' for comic or satirical effect, it being common for characters and situations from other stories to be interpolated into the plot. Certain familiar scenes tend to recur, regardless of plot relevance, and highly unlikely resolution of the plot is common. Straight re-tellings of the original stories are rare in the extreme.

Popular titles include:

Performance conventions

The form has a number of conventions, some of which have changed or weakened a little over the years, and by no means all of which are obligatory. Some of these conventions were once common to other genres of popular theatre such as melodrama.

  • The leading male juvenile character (the principal boy) - is traditionally played by a young woman, usually in tight-fitting male garments (such as breeches) that make her female charms evident.
  • An older woman (the pantomime dame - often the hero's mother) is usually played by a man in drag.
  • Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience.
  • Audience participation, including calls of "He's behind you!" (or "Look behind you!"), and "Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to boo the villain and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies the prince.
  • Music may be original but is more likely to combine well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. At least one "audience participation" song is traditional: one half of the audience may be challenged to sing 'their' chorus louder than the other half.
  • The animal, played by an actor in 'animal skin' or animal costume. It is often a pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
  • The good fairy enters from stage right (from the audience's point of view this is on the left) and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). This convention goes back to the medieval mystery plays, where the right side of the stage symbolised Heaven and the left side symbolised Hell.
  • Sometimes the story villain will squirt members of the audience with water guns or pretend to throw a bucket of 'water' at the audience that is actually full of streamers.
  • A slapstick comedy routine may be performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour based on throwing messy substances. Until the 20th century, British pantomimes often concluded with a harlequinade, a free-standing entertainment of slapstick. Nowadays the slapstick is more or less incorporated into the main body of the show.
  • In the 19th century, until the 1880s, pantomimes typically included a transformation scene in which a Fairy Queen magically transformed the pantomime characters into the characters of the harlequinade, who then performed the harlequinade.[10]
  • The Chorus, who can be considered extras on-stage, and often appear in multiple scenes (but as different characters) and who perform a variety of songs and dances throughout the show. Due to their multiple roles they may have as much stage-time as the lead characters themselves.

Guest celebrity in

Another contemporary pantomime tradition is the celebrity guest star, a practice that dates back to the late 19th century, when Augustus Harris, proprietor of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, hired well-known variety artists for his pantomimes.

Until the decline of the British music hall tradition by the late 1950s, many popular artists played in pantomimes across the country. Many modern pantomimes use popular artists to promote the pantomime, and the play is often adapted to allow the star to showcase their well-known act, even when such a spot has little relation to the plot, for example, Rolf Harris might perform Jake the Peg in a pantomime about Aladdin.

Nowadays, a pantomime occasionally pulls off a coup by engaging a guest star with an unquestionable thespian reputation, as was the case with the Christmas 2004 production of Aladdin that featured Sir Ian McKellen as Widow Twankey, which he reprised in the 2005 production at the Old Vic theatre in London. Shakespearian actor Roger Allam starred opposite McKellen as the evil Abanazaar. In the late 80s and early 90s a string of Australian stars made famous by the popular soaps like 'Neighbours' entered the panto ring. Ray Meagher known as 'Alf' in 'Home and Away', now on Channel 5, is still a pantomime regular and championed as Best Baddy by Radio One.

The current celebrity stalwarts of British pantomime are Su Pollard, Matthew Kelly, The Chuckle Brothers, Bradley Walsh, Russ Abbott, Shane Ritchie, Paul O'Grady, Barbara Windsor, Brian Conley, Paul Zerdin, Cilla Black, Les Dennis, Chris Jarvis, Steve McFadden, Justin Fletcher, Bobby Davro, Tim Vine, John Challis, Brian Blessed Shaun Prendergast.

Other well-known stars of pantomime include dames like Nigel Ellacot, Andy Ryan, Chris Hayward, Kev Johns, and Chris Harris, as well as comics like Andy Ford.

  • Since 2010, Film, Stage, Radio and Television actor Shaun Prendergast has been declared the 'Finest, Funniest pantomime Dame in London (Daily Telegraph) ' for his roles at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.In 2010 he played Sarah the Cook in 'Dick Whittington' and in 2011 plays Widow Twankey in Aladdin.
  • Since 2005, British television and theatre actor John Barrowman has been returning repeatedly to the pantomime, playing Prince Charming in 2005's Cinderella; Jack in 2006's Jack and the Beanstalk; Aladdin in 2007's Aladdin; the title character of Robin Hood in 2008 and 2009, and most recently as Aladdin in 2010's 3D Aladdin.
  • As well as being an actor in the Shakespearean tradition, McKellen had become hugely famous with children as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and Magneto in X-Men. "At least we can tell our grandchildren that we saw McKellen's Twankey and it was huge," said Michael Billington, theatre critic of The Guardian,[11] entering into the pantomime spirit of double entendre. In recent times pantomimes have featured soap stars, comedians or former sportsmen rather as celebrity attractions, supplemented by jobbing actors and pantomime specialists.
  • Christopher Biggins was a pantomime dame for 38 consecutive years until 2007 when his participation on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! made it impossible for him to do a panto that year.
  • In Canterbury, the Marlowe Theatre traditionally has a famous person from EastEnders or Neighbours, both popular soap operas.
  • In summer of 1974 the Old Vic staged Jack and the Beanstalk on a double bill with Euripides' Bacchae at the Edinburgh Festival. Jack and the Beanstalk was the perfect antidote to the passionate violence of Euripides' tragedy.

More recently the Australians have been replaced by an influx of North American stars like Happy Days star Henry Winkler and Pamela Anderson.

Pantomime roles

Major roles

The main roles within pantomime are often gender-swapped, and can be played by either sex:

Role Role description Played by
Principal Boy/Girl Main Character in the pantomime Traditionally a young woman in "male" attire
Panto Dame Normally the Hero's Mother Traditionally a middle aged man in drag
Co-Principal Boy/Girl Normally the Hero's Love Interest Woman
Comic Lead Does physical comedy and relates to children in the audience.
Often has a phrase he repeats several times and the audience traditionally call out the opposite in response.
For example he says "Oh no it isn't", The audience reply "Oh yes it is".
Villain The pantomime antagonist. Often a wicked wizard or witch. Man or Woman

Minor roles

Role Role description Played by
Good Fairy/Wise woman Usual role is to help (traditionally silly) hero defeat (much more intelligent) villain. Often has a role in the resolution of the plot Woman (or Man in drag)
animals and non-living things
Chorus Members often have several minor roles
Dancers Usually a group of Young Boys and Girls

In the United Kingdom & Ireland today

Many theatres in cities and provincial towns throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland continue to have an annual professional pantomime. Pantomime is also very popular with amateur dramatics societies throughout the UK and Ireland, and the pantomime season (roughly speaking, December to February) will see pantomime productions in many village halls and similar venues across the country. The Manor Operatic Society produce their annual show in Sheffield Town Hall each year.[12]

  • Tewkesbury's Roses Theatre has a pantomime which has a fully professional cast (apart from the young chorus/dancers), none of whom are 'star' soap opera performers, stand-up comedians or pop singers as a matter of policy. The panto is traditional in style, and the principal boy is played by a female actor.
  • The recently renovated Hackney Empire has presented an enormously successful and highly regarded panto with multi-racial cast since 1988.
  • York's Theatre Royal pantomime features a regular cast headed by Berwick Kaler, who has played the dame there for 30 years.
  • Most years the long running radio soap opera The Archers on BBC Radio 4 has a pantomime in the village hall produced by Lynda Snell. Apart from the joke that a group of experienced professional actors is portraying an essentially local and amateur event, it is a highly convincing element of the Ambridge scene.
  • In December 2009, the throwing of sweets at several pantomimes was banned on health and safety grounds.

Outside the United Kingdom

In Australia

Pantomimes in Australia at Christmas were once very popular, although the familiarity of young Australians with the genre has declined greatly since the middle of the last century, for all manner of reasons, and it is no longer the force it once was. In the hey-day of Australian Pantomime, professional productions often featured celebrities. During the 1950s, a Christmas Cinderella pantomime in Sydney featured Danny Kaye as Buttons. Radio Christmas pantomimes have been featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.[13]

The Adventures of Goldilockpick and Little Red Riding Hoodlum is one of a string of fractured pantos by North Queensland playwright Todd Barty. Barty most recently directed the play for Tropic Sun Theatre in Townsville. While a small production company in Brisbane is trying to revive 'new' pantomimes. Sean Dennehy, a Brisbane-based English theatre actor, director and writer, has written Tradition Impossible, a contemporary panto shown at South Bank Parklands for the Christmas period in 2008. The Parklands will also feature 2009 A Space Oddity in 2009 and Elf-The Musical in 2010. All starring well known Brisbane TV and stage actors.[14]

The University of Western Australia Pantomime Society has been in operation since 2003. Each semester (twice a year) the society produce an original pantomime. In 2010 the group added a Christmas pantomime to their repertoire, conforming more closely than their usual productions to traditional conventions, and in aid of a children's charity. .[15]

Brisbane Arts Theatre has a long tradition of regular Pantomime style children performances Saturday afternoon matinee every week and also as a Tuesdays-Saturday matinee during school holidays.

Encore Theatre has a large following of children and adults with their pantomimes in Victoria, with performances taking place in their theatre in Clayton.

In Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Players, Cambodia’s most established expat amateur theatre group, has been performing a Pantomime each December for fifteen years. In 2009 they performed the original pantomime “Snow White and the Jackson 5“ written and directed by Adam Mallord and Zak Kendall.

In 2010 the Phnom Penh Players will perform the second half of Mallord and Kendall's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Duology" Entitled "Robin in Da Hood" . Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had previously appeared in the Phnom Penh Players' 'Hamlet: The Panto', written by Danny Whitehead, and performed in January 2008. [16]

In Canada

Christmas pantomimes have been performed in Canada for as many years as there have been British residents that enjoy this type of theatre.

Stirling Festival Theatre, located in Stirling, Ontario, has been presenting holiday pantomimes since 1997, most recently "Puss In Boots" (2011) and "Hansel & Gretel" (2010).

Royal Canadian Theatre Company headed by Artistic Director Ellie "Panto Queen" King produces Robin Hood. Ellie has been writing, directing and producing Panto in the Lower Mainland of BC for the past 20 years. Her productions are quintessentially British honouring the form she was trained in since the age of three. 2009's production was Robin Hood starring Alan Cedargreen as Dame Gertie Goodbrew, Michael Roberds (New Addams Family) as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Mandy Tulloch as Robin Hood.

In Vancouver, B.C. the Metropolitan Cooperative Theatre Society has been presenting their annual Christmas Pantomime since 1985,[17] most recently Jack and the Beanstalk (2007), Aladdin (2008), Dick Whittington and his Cat (2009) and Cinderella (2010). Written by expat Johnny Duncan, the Metro Pantomimes have some of their own idiosyncrasies while still remaining very true to the English traditions.

SPECC-Tacular Productions from Maple Ridge, B.C have produced Pantomimes since 2001 under the expert direction of South African Ed Marshall and Brits Su Wolfe, Christine Olorenshaw and Pauline De Silva. Using mainly British Scripts their Panto's are tradition with Wolfe and Marshall usually playing Principal Boy and Dame respectively. 2009 saw the return of Cinderella under the direction of Marshall who wrote the script. In 2010 SPECC-tacular Productions broke with tradition by bringing two pantomimes to The Act, Maple Ridge. The Wizard of Oz - a summer spectacular and Beauty & The Beast at Christmas.

The White Rock Players' Club in White Rock, British Columbia has produced Christmas pantomimes since 1955.[18] They have developed their own style of Panto and although it strays from the stricter British rules, the Dame, Principal Boy, Principal Girl and double entendres remain.

The longest continually operating Panto group in Ontario is Peel Panto Players in Brampton, Ontario, founded in 1974.[19]

Since 1996, Ross Petty has been producing 'Fractured Fairy Tale Musicals' at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre. These shows are firmly in the old English pantomime tradition, incorporating many of the style’s elements—broad comedy, winking asides that break the 'fourth wall', audience participation and a man in a dress, often Mr. Petty himself.[citation needed] The guest stars are chosen to be of fun and interest to Toronto audiences, and include Canadian TV stars (Ernie Coombs, better known as Mr. Dressup, Sheila McCarthy, two of the Degrassi kids) ballet stars (Karen Kain, Frank Augustyn, Rex Harrington) and athletes (Olympic skater Kurt Browning, WWE wrestler Bret Hart). The list of shows produced is also in keeping with panto tradition: Peter Pan, Cinderella, Aladdin, Robin Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White.

Since 2006, Drayton Entertainment,[20] located in Ontario under the artistic direction of Alex Mustakas, has offered traditional British panto at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse under the direction and choreography of Trudy Moffatt. Using well known Canadian theatrical performers as well as Canadian TV stars (such as Fred Stinson, best known as Major Bedhead from The Big Comfy Couch) the show list includes Aladdin, Cinderella, Robin Hood, and an original offering called The Christmas Show.

Since 1996, North Vancouver's SMP Dramatic Society[21] has produced pantos, including the traditional (Cinderella, Aladdin, and Snow White) along with the less traditional (the western Panto at the OK Corral and the upcoming The Wizard of Oz).

In Victoria, British Columbia, St. Luke's Players[22] have presented an annual Christmas panto since 2006, although some of its members have been participating in pantos for over 30 years. Their productions have been: Aladdin in 2006, Cinderella in 2007, Sleeping Beauty in 2008, Jack and The Beanstalk in 2009, and Robinson Crusoe in 2010.

The nasty stepsisters from the Lakeside Players' Christmas 1995 production of Cinderella.

The Lakeside Players[23] is a non-profit community theatre group formed in January 1990 in the Britannia neighborhood of Ottawa, Canada, and based at Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre (formerly Lakeside Gardens) in Britannia Park. Starting in the 1991/92 season, they performed Aladdin with later productions of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, The Princess and the Sentinel, The Wonderful Story of Mother Goose, The Sleeping Beauty, Robinson Crusoe, Red Riding Hood, Hickory Dickory Dock and Puss in Boots. These productions have included up to 25 children dancing and singing, and 10–15 adults in the cast. The Pantomime animals in their productions have included a dancing Camel, Daisy the Cow, Moosesense, and Priscilla (the goose that lays golden eggs).

East End Theatre of Ottawa has presented Christmas pantos since 2002 under the direction of Diane Barnett. In 2009 the productions moved to a new theatre in Orleans.[24]

In Edmonton, Alberta, the St. George of England Society has been performing a pantomime around Christmas or New Year's since the early 1980s. In 2009, the Society celebrated its 25th pantomime.

Internationally recognized and talented mime and pantomime artist, Director Zillur Rahman John started to work on pantomime art in Edmonton, Canada. He has been honored by the city of Edmonton, receiving the city's "Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award 2008" for his pantomime works and contribution in different countries. City Mayor Stephen Mendal presented the award on behalf of the city. John is directing a pantomime production to be staged on March 28, 2009 in Edmonton, Canada.

A Pantomime has been performed in Newmarket, Ontario every Christmas since 1978 when the Newmarket Theatre Centre first performed Cinderella. The Newmarket Stage Company has carried on the tradition and they have performed Aladdin, Grand Old Duke of York and Puss-in-Boots, all at the Old Town Hall theatre in Newmarket.

Peel Panto Players in Brampton has been performing annual Pantos since 1974.

In France

The Secret Panto Society has been created by British expatriates. Since 1984 they have performed pantomimes each winter with an ever-increasing success, in the small town of Pibrac, near Toulouse in southern France.

In Luxembourg

The English-language musical theatre group Pirate Productions (est. 1979 - has been performing pantomime regularly in Luxembourg since 1980. This first production of Aladdin was followed by Cinderella (1982), Mother Goose (1984), Jack and the Beanstalk (1989), Hickoway Dickoway Dock (1991), Dick Whittington (1993), The Grand Old Duke of York (1998) and Cinderella (2003). Their next pantomime will be Aladdin, which will be performed in the second half of January 2012 at the Château de Bettembourg.

In January 2010, British theatre company Two Shades of Blue performed Aladdin at the Chateau Battembourg in the traditional English style. They returned with Dick Wittington in January 2011.

In Germany

Chaincourt Theatre Group of Goethe University Frankfurt puts on a pantomime each year.

In Switzerland

The Geneva Amateur Operatic Society has performed a traditional English pantomime in Geneva since 1972. The English Theatre Group of Zug has also performed pantomimes since the 1990s. The Basel English Panto Group also performs every year.

In the Netherlands

I.D.E.A (Intl Drama English speaking Associates)[25] stage their Panto's Jan/Feb time in Hendrik Ido Ambacht, The Netherlands. IDEA is an English speaking drama group set up by expats with English as their mother tongue in the South of the Netherlands in 1991.

The AATG (Anglo-American Theatre Group)[26] also stages a panto in the Netherlands. In 2009, they performed "Peter Pan" at the Koninklijke Schouwburg (Royal Theatre) in The Hague in December. February 2011 will see Robin Hood performed at the Theater aan het Spui.

In the United States

Pantomime, as described in this article, is seldom performed in the United States. As a consequence, Americans commonly understand the word "pantomime" to refer to the art of mime, as was practised, for example, by Marcel Marceau and Nola Rae, and assume it to be a solo performance such as is as common on street corners as on stage. However, certain shows that came from the pantomime traditions, especially Peter Pan, are performed quite often, and a few American theatre companies produce traditional British-style pantomime as well as American adaptations of the form. Other descriptive terms like 'Family Musical' may be used in marketing, to avoid the issue of mime/pantomime confusion.

The form is not completely unknown in the US. The Piccolo Theatre of Evanston, Illinois, for example, has presented original holiday pantomimes annually since 2001 as part of its mission to revive traditional physical comedy theatre forms for presentation to American audiences.

In New York City, Pantomonium Productions a non-profit theater group headed by Christopher Major, has been doing pantomime at various venues around the city every holiday season since 2004. Past productions include Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Alladin, The Emperor's New clothes and Snow White. A large percentage of tickets to its productions are distributed to children's charities and underserved school children throughout the NY area.

Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, Texas, produced a pantomime Cinderella in December 2008, with book and lyrics by Kate Hawley and music by Gregg Coffin.[27] During the holiday season in 2009, Stages Repertory Theatre produced Panto Sleeping Beauty; and in 2010 are staging Panto Pinocchio by Eric Coble, based on the story by Carlo Collodi, and directed by Kenn McLaughlin.

For the 2009 Christmas season, the Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company staged the same children's classic as a pantomime production.[28] In West Des Moines, Iowa, The Bakers Dozen Mime and Improv Troupe have been performing pantomime since the late 1960s. They put on two official shows a year which are performed to sold out houses. The Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society (KATS) of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania has been producing original pantomimes since 2001. People's Light and Theatre Company of Malvern, PA has spent the past decade performing original pantos in the British tradition, mostly recently in 2010 with "The Three Musketeers (The Later Years)." [29] British born Dr. Gary Smith founded KATS with a group of local friends specifically to perform pantomime, and the January performances have become a local tradition, attracting guests from all over the Mid-Atlantic region. The Hideout Players in Chicago have staged original pantomimes since 2006, featuring various English and American amateur actors, including musicians Kelly Hogan, Jon Langford and Sally Timms of the Mekons, and a recurring appearance by Moby Duck, the Pantomime Quacking Whale. Themes have included Vikings versus Daleks, Pirates, Darwin and his discovery of the origins of Christmas, and Santa's early life as a Zeppelin Pirate. Theatre Britain has been producing original pantomimes annually in Dallas, Texas since 2002.[30] The 2009 panto was Puss In Boots.[31]

Earliest U.S. productions

According to Professor Russell A. Peck [32] of the University of Rochester, the earliest pantomime productions in the US, were Cinderella pantomime productions in New York in March 1808, New York again in August 1808, Philadelphia in 1824, and Baltimore in 1839.[9] However, it is not clear to what extent these early productions resembled pantomime by its current definition in England, which dates from about the last third of the 19th century.

In Spain

Networks Theatre, a theatre group in Orihuela, (Alicante) made up of predominantly Spanish actors produce a traditional pantomime in English each November. The shows are written and directed by Nick Moore, with costumes and stage design by Dennis Carpenter. Since 2002 they have produced Aladdin (twice), Cinderella (twice), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (twice), Dick Whittington, Beauty and the Beast and A Christmas Carol.

See also


  1. ^ Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  2. ^ παντόμιμος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  3. ^ πᾶς, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  4. ^ μίμος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  5. ^ There is a detailed description of ancient pantomime performance in Apuleius Metamorphoses, 10,29 ff
  6. ^ Vacca, Life of Lucan 336
  7. ^ Mesk, J., Des Aelius Aristides Rede gegen die Tänzer, WS 30 (1908)
  8. ^ "Department of English — Russell A. Peck". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  9. ^ a b "Pantomime, Burlesque, and Children's Drama". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  10. ^ Crowther, Andrew. "Clown and Harlequin", W. S. Gilbert Society Journal, vol. 3, issue 23, Summer 2008, pp. 710–12
  11. ^ December 20, 2004
  12. ^ Manor Operatic Society
  13. ^ Several of these are preserved at the National Film and Sound Archive, see their catalogue at
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "White Rock Players' Club". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  19. ^ Intrigue Web Design. "Peel Panto Players". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  20. ^ "Home - Go back to our Home page". Drayton Entertainment. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  21. ^ "SMP Dramatic Society". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  22. ^ "St Luke's Players". 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  23. ^ "Welcome to The Lakeside Players - The Lakeside Players - Community Theatre Group". The Lakeside Players. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  24. ^ "East End Theatre". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  25. ^ "The official I.D.E.A. website". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  26. ^ "AATG: English Language Theatre in the Hague since 1951". Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  27. ^ "Preview: Panto Cinderella is a British tradition," Houston Chronicle, December 8, 2008
  28. ^ "Theater review: Children's panto-style 'Cinderella' is frenzied fun for all." St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 16, 2009
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ "'Sleeping Beauty' orders patrons to not keep quiet" The Dallas Morning News, December 13, 2002
  31. ^ "Theatre Britain's panto 'Puss in Boots' is purrfectly silly fun" The Dallas Morning News, December 3, 2009
  32. ^ "Department of English". 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 


  • Broadbent, R.J. A History of Pantomime. London, 1901.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pantomime — Pantomime …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • pantomime — [ pɑ̃tɔmim ] n. m. et f. • 1560; lat. pantomimus, d origine grecque I ♦ N. m. Rare Mime. II ♦ N. f. (1752) 1 ♦ Jeu du mime; art de s exprimer par la danse, le geste, la mimique, sans recourir au langage. La pantomime dans l Antiquité. ⇒… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • pantomime — 1. (pan to mi m ) s. m. 1°   Acteur qui, dans la pièce, joue tous les rôles, et qui ne s exprime que par des gestes. •   Un illustre pantomime du temps de Néron, qui avait le corps excellent et savait bien son métier, représenta l adultère de… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Pantomime — (græsk), et skuespil uden ord, helt bestående af mimik, men skelnet fra baletten ved, at der ikke absolut hører dans til. Som primitiv form for dramatisk fremstilling findes pantomime fra gammel tid hos vilde eller halvciviliserede folk, således… …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Pantomime — Sm ein Künstler, der mit Körperbewegungen Geschichten erzählt; eine derart erzählte Geschichte f erw. fach. (17. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. pantomīmus m., dieses zu gr. pãn alles und gr. mimeĩsthai nachahmen . Adjektiv: pantomimisch;… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • pantomime — [pan′tə mīm΄] n. [L pantomimus < Gr pantomimos < pantos (see PANTO ) + mimos, a mimic, actor] 1. in ancient Rome a) an actor who played his part by gestures and action without words b) a drama played in action and gestures to the… …   English World dictionary

  • Pantomime — Pan to*mime, n. [F., fr. L. pantomimus, Gr. ?, lit., all imitating; pa^s, panto s, all + ? to imitate: cf. It. pantomimo. See {Mimic}.] 1. A universal mimic; an actor who assumes many parts; also, any actor. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] 2. One who acts… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pantomime — Pan to*mime, a. Representing only in mute actions; pantomimic; as, a pantomime dance. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pantomime — »Darstellung einer Szene nur mit Gebärden, Mienenspiel und tänzerischen Bewegungen«, als Maskulinum »Darsteller einer Pantomime«: Das Wort wurde im 17. Jh. aus gleichbed. lat. pantomimus entlehnt, das seinerseits aus griech. pantómīmos… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Pantomime — (v. gr.), 1) Acteur, welcher blos durch Geberden u. künstliche Bewegung des Körpers (Mimen) auf dem Theater allein eine Rolle od. mit Andern ein ganzes Drama darstellt; diese Kunst heißt Pantomimik; vgl. Mimik; daher 2) Schauspiel, in dem ein in… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Pantomīme — Pantomīme, s. Pantomimus …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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