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It wasn’t exactly ‘Harry Potter’.

Posted by Big John on December 1, 2007

One seasonal tradition that continues today in this country is the Christmas ‘panto’, although, from what I gather, it has changed a bit from my young days and now seems to be largely a vehicle for promoting the careers of TV ‘soap stars’, so called ‘celebs’, second rate pop singers and long forgotten actors who need to earn a few bob.

Now it seems that from ‘across the pond’, where I thought they had never heard of ‘panto’, come the likes of Henry Winkler (the Fonz), Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky … or was he Hutch ?) and the ex Mr Ava Gardner, little old Mickey Rooney (Mickey who ? … Umm, never mind), to ‘tread the boards’ in Pantomime.

When I was a kid the annual Christmas pantomime was a major event in my life, and even if my mum and dad had to drag me through a blizzard we always made it to the ..  Brixton Empress .. to see whatever production was being performed that year on the stage of that rather splendid ‘Art Deco’ theatre. 

It was all magic to me if a bit confusing, for in those days the heroes, such as Prince Charming or Dick Whittington were played by ‘principal boys’ who were GIRLS in tights ! … and … women’s parts, such as Mother Goose or The Ugly Sisters were played by ‘dames’ who were … yes, that’s right, MEN in dresses !

I loved the whole bewitching atmosphere of the theatre and although I was a bit scared of The Demon King I was entranced by the lights, the music and the gaudy scenery; but above all I was excited by the sight of the leggy young ladies of the chorus line as they high kicked their way across the stage … So I guess  …

…    I wasn’t really that ‘confused’ !


6 Responses to “It wasn’t exactly ‘Harry Potter’.”

  1. Oscarandre said

    Strangely enough, John, while the English left many of their traditions embedded awkwardly in the Australian landscape (e.g. hot Christmas lunches,democracy), pantomimes were not one of these. Perhaps it is all for the best…or we’d all be Barry Humphries!

  2. Ginnie said

    I can just see you as a young child engrossed in the stage pantomimes. You are a bit “gruffier” now but the enthusiasm and love of life still shine through in your blog. Thanks.

  3. Red Baron said

    Big man consider your self the recipient of a fetching pink lion!

  4. Red Baron said

    I should have qualified that remark a little better as it stands it has a positively Dalian surreal quality about it!

    The pink lion is part of the ROAR award which I have bestowed upon yourself, I tired to html insert the image into my comment but it failed. You can find the details chez moi.

    As to the matter in hand I shall be going to the Christmas panto this year for the first time in about 30 years I will therefore inform on what it was like.

    Paul Michael Glaser was Starsky, you surely cannot have forgotten David Soul the blonde crooner as Hutch!

  5. Big John said

    I am truly honoured Baron. Thank you, sniff ! I don’t know which has moved me more, your pink lion or my recent veteran’s award. 🙂

  6. Red Baron said

    I bet I know which was the more gareish tho’?!

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