Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Aladdin

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Can you guess which one is me (you can tell by the legs)

I have had so many positive comments- not just here but through personal e-mails and on writers’ forums (or is it ‘fora?’) about my pantomime posting ‘It’s Behind You…’ that I was inspired to blog once more on the theme.

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I’ve always thought that pearls go so well with chest hair (OO-er)

But I am aware, because of the global nature of the internet, there will be some of you who are wondering what on earth I am talking about. I got into a conversation some time ago via Instant messaging with a lady from New England. We got onto the subject of Pantomime, and she had never heard of it.

It felt strange trying to get over to her the panto traditions of audience participation,  stock jokes and the tendency for cross dressing which are such a part of the UK Christmas scene. It reminded me of an occasion when I tried to describe to a man from Papua New Guinea how we bring a Christmas pudding to the table and then set fire to it. He rolled around laughing like one of the Martians from the old ‘Smash’ instant potato ads. In trying to describe panto to an American I sensed a similar width of cultural divide.

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For this we used real rabbit droppings… oh no we didn’t

One notable example of an American falling hook, line and sinker for the form is Henry Winkler. I didn’t intend the pun there, but  it was Winkler who played Captain Hook in Peter Pan and loved it so much that he has returned to do it again this year. The Panto stage is also being graced this year by none other than Mickey Rooney.

So, without going into the historical side, what is Panto?

Well, it is a children’s entertainment… or is it?  A well directed Panto will remember that with every child there come adult ‘bums* on seats’ (*or asses) who also need entertaining for two hours. So panto is often peppered with innuendo worthy of that other British institution, the carry-on film. So flying over the heads of children all over the country this year will be lines such as ‘Ten 0’clock and still no Dick!’

A major feature of Panto are the stock characters. There is a hero (male but played by a woman,) a dame (female but played by a man,) a heroine (who usually ends up getting married to the hero at the end,) new-year-06-0061

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and, of course, a baddie.

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Minor roles include a king or pompous official of some kind.And a good fairy…Then there are the audience reactions. At some point there will always be a ‘oh yes he is’ to which the audience replies ‘oh no he isn’t. If a ghost/ skeleton etc. appears then the cry is ‘it’s behind you,’ although it is obligatory for the characters on stage to look the wrong way.

And don’t forget the stock gags. One of these is for the dame and other goodies to be tramping through dark woods, where one by one they see a ghoul and run off screaming, until only the dame is left. When eventually they come face to face and the ghoul sees the dame in all her glory, it is he who runs off screaming.

Now what interests me is: how many readers of this are totally perplexed? I know that there are people following this blog in the States- am I right to assume that you know nothing of the panto tradition or is that a generalisation? This is also read in Canada and Australia- do you have Panto in these countries, or is it just us strange brits?

I would be interested to hear from you.

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Life is  mixed genre. It doesn’t come with a neat label such as ‘Thriller’ or ‘comedy.’  That’s why I enjoy the writing of Dean Koontz. That’s why I write like I do… and that’s my excuse for allowing my blog to take a completely new direction fom time to time.

I’m spending a lot of time finding different ways to promote my book at the moment, which is a complete departure from what I usually do at this time of the year.  I normally spend December dressing up as a lady… so there you have it, the confession.

It’s been interesting to see the number of hits recently on a post I did entitled ‘Coming out.’ I’m pretty sure that these are actually from people who know me. (They’ll be disappointed when they see what it’s really about.)

 But yes, I have from time to time dressed as a lady… or a pirate captain, or a giant fly, amongst other things.

For the last nine years, I have appeared in the local panto, usually as the baddie. There’s nothing like the response you get from a pantomime audience, and the buzz you get from the laughs and boos is unbeatable.

But allow me to let the pictures do some of the talking:

bigsleeping4_jpgJanuary 2000. Sleeping Beauty. My first panto. Because of the year it wasn’t a witch but the MILLENNIUM BUG. My left hand is actually holding onto a crutch, as I had dislocated my knee cap at a work’s party the week before we opened.  It was painful, but very good for publicity.

 December 2000:
Frankenstein the Panto- Dracula
No pictures for this unfortunately. I was a whimpy Dracula, who was overpowered by pepppermint. Being quite bald I had the Bela Lugosi hairdo painted on- and it took about an hour to get off every night.

December 2001- Arabian Nights- Onion Bajhi

bigarabianknights9_jpgToady to the emperor Saladin. I had the fewest lines ever in this one… to start with. The beauty of Panto is that you can expand and play with it. One night I looked up just in time to see the lighting guy throwing his script away in disgust.
December 2002- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves- Herman the Huntsman, another small part- well I could hardly be a dwarf, could I?

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December 2003- Cinderella- Ugly Sister, Kylie Hardup

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 The double chin is a clever use of prosthetics… (Oh no it isn’t!)

 

 

 

 

 WARNING: I’m about to blow my own trumpet… One of the highlights of my theatrical career. Professional comedian Johnny Casson rivington-barn-bavarian-night-2004-0101came to see this, and afterwards phoned the writer, Hilary O’Neill, from the bar, and compared my performance to Music Hall legend, Norman Evans. My head was even bigger than it looks in the photo above.

 

December 2004- Aladdin- Abanazzer

 

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This part is panto baddie heaven. 

 Record  Breaking Performance:  Thirty seconds between me walking on and first child being carried out of theatre.

December 2005 Babes in the Wood- Sherrif of Nottingham

 

 

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                                                                                                                                                         For this one I was given the NODA award for ‘Best mortal in a Panto.’noda-awards-aug-2006-014

 

December 2006- Jack and the Beanstalk- Poison Ivan

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Due to my success as dame in Cinderella I was originally offered the chance to play the part of ‘Poison Ivy’- a panto villain in drag. But the director thought better of it, so I introduced the line:

               ‘My name is Poison Ivan

                Don’t laugh, it’s not a joke,

               It should have been Poison Ivy…

                But they had to use a bloke…’

 

December 2007- Dick Whittington- Captain Slog.

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My ninth and last panto. By this time the muse had left me. I had also been taking part in confidence coaching and foster-care training. Both of these helped me to look at my life: what was useful to me, what was not; which social networks were supportive and nurturing. So I said goodbye to panto and acting (Oh yes I did. )

It was fun while it lasted, but for now… it’s behind me.


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