No child should be denied the right to scream “Oh no, it isn’t” or “He’s behind you” a hundred times in a row at a man dressed up as a woman who looks like a man. Prohibition of this sort is cruelty to animals … sorry children. It’s the rite of passage of every kid growing up in Britain, it’s called pantomime, and thanks to the Copenhagen Theatre Circle (CTC), it’s quickly becoming an annual tradition!
So what is panto? Or maybe a more apt question would be: what isn’t it? As a combination of music, comedy, drama, dance, interaction, family fun and storytelling, it’s an extravaganza that encompasses every genre of the theatrical spectrum. Rather like Pixar cartoons, it can be enjoyed by both children and adults for different reasons, it truly is a memorable occasion rich in festive spirit that your kids will thank you for, and there’s nothing like it in this country.
For starters, children are invited to be as vocal as possible. With other forms of theatre (let’s face it, you’re doing well if you manage to persuade them to come), there’s always the danger they’ll start fidgeting or screaming out at inopportune moments. With panto, ADD behaviour is positively encouraged, from singing along to the songs to shouting at the performers.
For example, when the villain enters the stage, the children are encouraged to boo him. And if he’s hiding, plotting some dastardly act behind the backs of the good characters, they need to warn them! And they must remember to cheer the hero and the good fairy, say ‘Awwww!’ every time they hear a sob story, and to remain vigilant in case some sweets are thrown into the audience.
And while there’s a wide range of humour on display – from slapstick for the kids to some rather saucy double entendres for the adults – it’s also a very visual experience. The costumes are colourful, imaginative, and outlandish – guaranteed to make the little ones chuckle, especially when they realise that the dame is a man. From laughing at the pantomime animal (normally a horse, played by two people in a single costume) to trying to out-sing the other half of the theatre, it’s a fun-filled night out for the entire family.
These days you can find pantomime in many countries – Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar, Malta, Cambodia, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, USA, and Spain – mainly thanks to the efforts of expats like the CTC, so it was high time that Denmark got its own, and in late 2011, the CTC performed the successful ‘Cinderella, Where there’s a Will there’s a Way!’ during the Christmas season. This year it’s moved the show dates to January, which is the traditional pantomime season in the United Kingdom.
“After an internal review of last year’s show, the feedback we got from the actors and production team was that it was too much to rehearse, perform, build sets etc in the run-up to Christmas,” explained CTC’s chairman Frank Theakston.
“So we decided to do the pantomime in January. That way everyone could have a relaxing holiday with their families or travel and be ready for the show. The CTC is a community theatre group and almost everyone involved in the show is volunteering, so it was important that we keep the troops happy!”
And don’t be fooled by the Disney version of Aladdin. “The original story from The Arabian Nights is set in China,” says its director Barry McKenna. This year’s show is packed with singing and dance numbers, once again ‘colourful, imaginative and outlandish’ costumes and scenery, and a talented cast – perfect for chasing away those January blues!
The pantomime premiered at Krudttønden theatre in Østerbro on January 9 and will continue (with performances from Wednesday until Friday, 19:00 weekdays, 15:00 weekends) until 27 January. Tickets are available from www.ctcircle.dk.
Student discount tickets are available on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 January at 19:00. On these days, bona fide students can buy tickets for 120 kroner on presentation of their student card at the box office. The box office opens at 18:00. And on Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 January, meet the cast of Aladdin after the show and take pictures of and talk to your favourite characters.