Pantomime is a very British festive tradition, and with its extravagant sets, outlandish costumes, magical happenings and slapstick humour, it’s a seasonal outing that all the family will enjoy. Located within easy reach of this year’s must-see Pantomimes, guests staying at The Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge are perfectly placed to join in the fun. Discover the history behind these all-singing, all-dancing productions, before checking out our top panto picks this Christmas.
Born out of Commedia dell’arte, an itinerant form of Italian street theatre, the origin of the British pantomime can be traced back to the 16th century. Commedia dell’arte has clear similarities to pantomime as we know it, featuring plenty of acrobatics, slapstick humour, dance and music. By the 18th century, Commedia dell’arte’s stock characters were appearing on stage in London in the country’s earliest pantomimes. The character of Harlequin, an embodiment of magic and mischief, was the focal point of these productions, which were set to music but contained no speech. By the 18th century, speaking productions had become popular, often incorporating stories from old folk tales such as Dick Whittington and Robin Hood. The Victorian era was a golden age for pantomime, when puns, word play, magical happenings, and the persona of the pantomime dame, a feminine character that’s always clearly played by a man, became established tropes of the genre. Today, a trip to the pantomime is a Christmas tradition for families all over the UK, and a light-hearted, fun-filled theatrical experience that visitors can enjoy too.
A well-known pantomime venue, the London Palladium is staging Dick Whittington this Christmas. The story follows Dick Whittington on his journey through London, with his magical companion The Spirit Of The Bells, played by comedian Julian Clary, as they try to overcome Whittington’s enemy, Queen Rat, played by Elaine Page. Expect plenty of music, dance, and laugh out loud moments.
9th December 2017 – 14th January 2018, London Palladium
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Lyric Hammersmith has a reputation for excellent, crowd-pleasing pantomimes, and this year’s production is set to be another success for the West London venue. Taking on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, the plot focuses on Jack’s journey to make her fortune and, of course, the famous magic beans. Full of singing, dancing, live music and vibrant characters, audiences will certainly enjoy this amusing adventure.
18th November 2017 – 6th January 2018, Lyric Hammersmith
Peter Pan – An Arena Spectacular
Presenting pantomime on a grand scale, Peter Pan – An Arena Spectacular promises to be an unmissable spectacle starring British actor Bradly Walsh as Mr Smee and singer and actor Martin Kemp as Captain Hook. The cast includes over 100 performers, among them BMX riders, trapeze artists and stuntmen, all aiming to provide an enthralling take on the classic Peter Pan story. Look out for Captain Hook’s famous Jolly Roger boat, which will sail around the arena in front of a 10,000-gallon water wall.
29th – 30th December 2017, SSE Wembley Arena
Treat yourself to The Egerton House Hotel’s Festive Afternoon Tea before enjoying an evening watching one of these classic British pantomimes.