If the slipper fits, pantomime will become a tradition
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 coming to Copenhagen this Christmas, and with our support, it will keep coming back.
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.
“It’s great,” enthuses Simon Neubert Luckner, the vice-chairman of the CTC. “We’ve been considering doing a Christmas show for quite some time – something that appealed to both young and old. A panto seemed the obvious choice. Our aim is to give our audience a little piece of traditional British comedy for the festive season. And having read the script by our talented director Barry McKenna, I can guarantee the audience will not be disappointed.”
“I was hoping to audition for one of the Ugly Sisters”, muses CTC chairman Frank Theakston. “But those roles were given to younger men.” Frank instead plays Baron Hardup, Cinderella’s father, who is inadvertently married to the wicked witch Carabosse. “It’s been a burning ambition of mine since I joined the CTC in 1979 for us to do a Christmas pantomime, and now we’re finally there. There’s nothing like it for galvanising a theatre group into action and creating a great sense of camaraderie. It’s hopefully the beginning of a long annual tradition in Copenhagen.”
These days you can find pantomime in many countries – Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar, Malta, Cambodia, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, the US, and Spain – mainly thanks to the efforts of expats like the CTC, so it was high time that Denmark got its own. Try it this Christmas and not only won’t you regret it, you’ll be booking your tickets for next year. Oh yes, you will!
The Copenhagen Theatre Circle’s pantomime ‘Cinderella’ premieres at Krudttønden theatre in Østerbro on December 15, plays until the 23rd, and then again from January 3-7. Performances start at 19:00 during the week and at 16:00 at the weekend. Tickets are available from www.ctcircle.dk.