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'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK

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Rick Fielding 15 May 01 - 11:29 AM
IanC 15 May 01 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 15 May 01 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Caitrin 15 May 01 - 11:49 AM
Lyndi-loo 15 May 01 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,JohnB 15 May 01 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,JohnB 15 May 01 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,JohnB 15 May 01 - 12:44 PM
AndyG 15 May 01 - 12:54 PM
Hollowfox 15 May 01 - 01:08 PM
Bert 15 May 01 - 01:27 PM
Eric the Viking 15 May 01 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Penny S.(no cookie yet) 15 May 01 - 02:31 PM
Gervase 16 May 01 - 07:27 AM
alison 16 May 01 - 08:23 AM
Eric the Viking 16 May 01 - 01:15 PM
fat B****rd 16 May 01 - 02:42 PM
alison 16 May 01 - 09:22 PM
Bugsy 16 May 01 - 09:44 PM
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Subject: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:29 AM

Last night a few of us were chatting after the radio show, and the subject of "best night at the theatre" came up. Peter T and I agreed that "Cyrano" with stubby actor Heath Lamberts was a terrific production. Lamberts is SO unlike Jose Ferrer, Depardieu, etc.(huge honkers or not, these guys would be babe magnets, and it's hard to picture Roxanne NOT falling for them right off the bat)

Lamberts is short and fat, and the addition of the prominent proboscus DOES make him look like a garden gnome, so his agony at being a "pretty boy's mouthpiece" seems very REAL.

Heather (Duckboots in her garden identity) said a bit sheepishly that her most memorable theatrical experience was a "Panto" at the King's Theatre in Glasgow. The Story was "Alladin" (long before Disney) and starred Charlie Drake (was that the guy who did "My Boomerang Won't Come back"?)

I started thinking about that particular form of entertainment and realized I know virtually nothing about it. I guess it's kind of "lowbrow" (don't get on my case about that word..I'm just curious, ha ha!) but it occurred to me that a great many very respected actors (and even stars) seem to have enjoyed doing it.

Any folks have thoughts on "Panto", s'pecially UKers.

Thanks

Rick

P.S.

Hmmmm, now I'm curious about any "great nights at the theatre" 'mongst Mudcatters. Maybe I'll commit to excess and start another thread.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: IanC
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:40 AM

Yes

Panto's a specialist traditional form of theatre. It's at its best when it's village panto, performed - usually not v. well - by local amateurs (most large villages have a theatre club).

Village panto is best because of the opportunity for cruel jokes about almost everyone in the village plus surrounding villages etc. ... especially if they're in the audience.

Professional panto is usually full of special stage effects and star turn comedians and can be very good in its own way, also.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:47 AM

60's guitarist and cockney comic songster Joe Brown was excellent in panto at Windsor UK for years in the Simple Simon/Idle Jack/Buttons roles. A good comic rapport with ace dame Brian Burdon and a couple of musical turns on guitar, fiddle, mandolin or melodeon ("Oh no he didn't?" "Oh yes he did!")thrown in.
Too many theatrical memories but two stand out:Laurence Olivier in "Long Day's Journey..." at the Old Vic: 4 hours flew by despite the hard seats, and Elizabeth Bergner in "The Cat" at Greenwich. I'd never heard of her before but this little old lady simple had star quality and became the young girl before your eyes, though she had been playing the part for years.
RtS (Brian Burden used to say: "Any Americans in the house?" On getting an affirmative:"Well this will all be a worry to you, won't it?" indicating his own frocks and the Principal boy's fishnet tights!)


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: GUEST,Caitrin
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:49 AM

Okay, I have to admit to being rather confused. What the heck is "Panto"? All I can think of is that it'd be short for pantomime, but it doesn't sound like that's what you're talking about.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Lyndi-loo
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:54 AM

Yes panto is short for pantomime. Traditionally a Christmas entertainment for the whole family with lots of fairly smutty jokes and audience participation. The leading man is always a woman in tights and the ugly dame is always a man in extremely OTT costume. Best ones I saw were Aladdin in Swansea with Jess Conrad (old 50s/60s pop star) and several in Glasgow with Rikki Fulton et al


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:38 PM

OH NO IT ISN'T. JohnB


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:39 PM

LOOK BEHIND YOU. JOhnB


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:44 PM

Ross Petty and Karen Kain, have done some really good versions in Toronto. They were televised, I remember my Kids watching them countless times. He was a particularly good villian. We used to go every year when I was a kid, I think it was called the Ardwick Hippadrome, just outside Central Manchester. I don't remember much of who played what though. I think Harry Worth played Buttons in Cinderella one year. JohnB


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: AndyG
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:54 PM

I can't express any great liking for panto, though I enjoy commedia del'arte (the precursor) much more. It is however quite an old form of theatre, and is, happily, well supported by the theatrical community.

The best moments of theatre I've seen (exclusive of The Rocky Horror Show) would be Eric Porter in the title roles of Faust and King Lear at the RSC in the late 60's.

A very brief history of pantomime can be found here, The History of Pantomime.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Hollowfox
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:08 PM

A good book on the subject is "King Panto:the story of pantomime" by A.E. (Albert Edward) Wilson, E.P.Dutton, 1935. It's a great book on the origins of the British Christmas panto, with some very useful "Golden Age" effect: "Ah, it was the Golden Age (about 35 years before date of publication, in this case), but You'll Never See It Because Those Times Have Gone, (followed by a sound that's a cross between a wail for something the author can't go back and live again, and a note of superiority that we snot-nosed kids didn't even get to enjoy it once).


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Bert
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:27 PM

Lowbrow? This is probably the wrong place to describe any traditional art as lowbrow.
Panto has survived for exactly the same reason that folk music has survived - because it's good.

It is one of the finer forms of theatrical art. One sees a better class of acting at the Panto simply because the players can relax and do their own thing.

Unfortunately a lot of the humour isn't understood on the west side of the pond, so it might be risky to try to stage a Panto over here. You'd have to have an interpreter, or sub-titles, to explain why certain things are funny.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 15 May 01 - 02:15 PM

Panto is traditional, the hero is a woman dressed as a man,(usually with long slim legs) who falls in love/rescues the princess etc, (a woman dressed as a woman). The mother or dame is a man dressed as a woman.There is always a villain, normaly a man and his servant or fool/flunky. There is often a clown or village idiot who tells the jokes, chats to the audience, throws out sweets etc. Usually quite funny, full of inuendo now a days (for the adults)

The story lines are most often based on children's fairy stories, Cinderella, red riding hood,Jack and the beanstalk, Peter pan

Both my children aged 8 and 13 are regularly acting in panto, at Bradford, or Brighouse in the run up to Christmas(big theatres. They really enjoy it.

It's quite true that the acting is often of quite a high standard, even in "village" panto, and there is quite a lot of "off script", aside joking and improvising-which demostrates the acting ability needed to carry it off.

Hope this helps, it is not really lowbrow theatre, but an art form in it's own right, since it often attracts quite big names into it on production.

Oh yes it does!!!!!!

Eric


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: GUEST,Penny S.(no cookie yet)
Date: 15 May 01 - 02:31 PM

I don't think Peter Pan counts, since it was written as a play by one author, and has a quite different sort of plot.

Though the history looks at commedia del arte, there are features which look like more English folk idiom, like the Dame, who is a bit like a Betty.

There is always magic - a transformation scene using transparent drops - a moral, usually about greed or being a rich exploiter of the poor - a challenge to be overcome, and traditional elements which may not be present in the original fairy story.

It's wonderful.....

And audience participation - oh yes there is!

Penny


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Gervase
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:27 AM

I'm allergic to Panto since living in East Anglia and being forced to review the varius summer and winter shows in Lowestoft and Yarmouth - all those B-list celebs fromTV soaps and quiz shows hamming up the double entendres was just too much, I'm afraid!
As for magical evenings in the theatre - there are many, but one of the most moving was Bill Bryden's Mystery Play cycle at the Cottesloe in the late Seventies, with Brian Glover playing God and music arranged by John Tams and Ashley Hutchings.
That was a visceral, tears-in-the-eyes, hair-standing-on-the-neck piece of pure theatrical magic.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: alison
Date: 16 May 01 - 08:23 AM

...... and plenty of audience participation... cheering the goodies..... boo-ing the baddies...... yelling "he's behind you"...... and usually involves slapstick type custard pie fights and audience singing competitions..... and endless inuendo......... "I do declare the prince's balls get bigger every year!!"

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 16 May 01 - 01:15 PM

I agree Peter Pan was not a fairy story, but none the less, it comes up pretty often as panto-last time I saw it it had Leslie grantham and joe pasquale in-very good, fun.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: fat B****rd
Date: 16 May 01 - 02:42 PM

I've been in a few pantos, great fun !! I've been The Genie, The Giant and The Sheriff of Nottingham. Lots of old songs to sing, lots of teenage girls prancing about and my first time with make-up, honest. I had to stop when my shift pattern changed but loved all that corny stuff and having to sing Lullaby of Broadway in a strangulated key (Power mad music person) sod tradition ! it was FUN OH YES IT WAS !!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: alison
Date: 16 May 01 - 09:22 PM

oh no it wasn't!!!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowbrow Theatricals'(?) Pantomime in UK
From: Bugsy
Date: 16 May 01 - 09:44 PM

I used to do a lot of Panto in my early years, and have some wonderful memories of those days.

As for great moment in the Theatre?

A very young Peter O'Toole's Hamlet at the Old Vic in the early 60's, about which the one critic wrote "....He may not be the best Hamlet ever, but he is surely the loudest".

Michael Redgrave in "Hobson's Choice" Also at the Old Vic, early 60's.

Oliver at the New Theatre, at around the same time.

Finally, "Orphans" in Perth Western Australia during the 80's, with Warren Mitchell, his son(can't remember his name offhand) and Colin Freils. Definitely a night to remember. Not only were the audience in tears but also the cast.

CHeers

Bugsy


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