Forty children ages 4 – 10 were standing, intently watching the last moments of the show. The parents were amazed how involved their children were throughout the entire performance.
by Simone Nichol
Aladdin is a popular children’s story that has been adapted to the stage by James Barry who is very successful veteran panto writer and director from England. Although a story for children, James Barry ensures that there is enough double entendre’s to keep the older members of the audience interested.
Pantomime is fascinating because it is paradoxical. It is a theatre style that is innocent on the one hand and naughty on the other. It mixes the old with the new and both can sit comfortably side by side. It is eccentric yet it is normal too. So it is able to combine two diametrically opposite elements at the same time. All in all there is great creative freedom in pantomime.
Pantomimes are absurd, complete send-ups, with heroes, villains and with variations of the poor boy meeting the princess scenario
Other conventions specific to pantomime is the lead male role which is usually played by a female. There is the role of the Dame played by a man. So cross-dressing is very much the “norm” in pantomime. Many pantomime characters are extremely clownish and this allows for much silliness. The taking away of the 4th wall creates a dynamic interaction between audience (children) and actors too.
Pantomimes are absurd, complete send-ups, with heroes, villains and with variations of the poor boy meeting the princess scenario. Pantomimes are fairy tales which have happy endings – in pantomime this is usually in the form of multiple weddings. Aladdin too has this.
In Britain, for many theatres, pantomimes are performed by many famous actors - recently David Hasselhoff and Pamela Stevens - and it is a theatre form that appeals to all walks of life. Yet people in North America think pantomimes are only for children. Yes, it is a British tradition that a child’s first theatre experience will be a pantomime and yes pantos have a central place as THE collective theatrical experience amongst the Brits. So understandably there is a great nostalgia about pantos.
Testimony of the success of a show for the children is told by a photo that was taken at a performance last weekend. Forty children ages 4 – 10 were standing, intently watching the last moments of the show. The parents were amazed how involved their children were throughout the entire performance.
Aladdin holds much appeal to children and to older audiences. For children Aladdin is a very accessible story that children love to watch because they are watching their favourite characters on stage.
Pantomime is an ideal vehicle to transport children into another world – a fantastical world of wonder and amazement and this is the magic of pantomime!
Aladdin is playing at Centaur this weekend
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