dr david bull

He’s behind you!

In Opinion Pieces on December 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

It’s panto season!  A peculiarly British institution. A time for grown ups to wear elf hats, heckle the performers and generally behave in an all together boisterous fashion.

And last night was no exception. Well apart from one big one!  This was was not the UK, this was LA!

You have to understand that the Americans have absolutely no idea what panto is all about. Half the fun of last night was watching people’s bemused faces when the audience chorused back “Hello Muddles” whenever the tongue tied narator-cum-jester appeared on stage. However, they soon got the hang of it and by the second half were heckling with aplomb!

This was the second year that the Lythgoe Family (as in Nasty Nigel – actually I don’t think he’s very nasty at all, but don’t tell anyone) have put on their quintessential British showcase and I have to say Kris and the team did a great job!  It was almost like being back at home.

I was trying to explain to my American friends what I wanted to drag them to. And in so doing, I realised that Pantomime is an extraordinarily difficult concept to explain.

Ok here we go….They are musical shows largely based on Fairytale stories which have been completely re-written so they bear almost no resemblence to the original. Often fairytales combine and characters appear from completely unrelated shows for no reason. The music tends to be comprised of current “chart” hits ie ones that the kids would know – so last night we had tributes to Lady Gaga, Huey Lewis, Britney Spears and so on. Then there’s the whole cross-dressing thing of men dressing up as ugly women (again for no apparent reason) and the lead boy often being played by a girl . What would normally raise eyebrows in the street seems perfectly normal in a panto. A complicated affair to say the least!

The funniest bit for me was that in the programme (or program if you’re American) they had to try to explain what on earth this fiasco was all about… There were even written instructions explaining to the audience that it is normal practice to shout and heckle and boo and hiss! It also explained that there was also an obligatory sing-a-long.

Instructions aside, it really was a great and talented cast. Neil Patrick Harris (he of “How I met your mother”) played a mirror (!),  Marina Sirtis (she of Star Trek) played the wicked Queen, Lindsay Pearce (Glee) was Snow White and Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys) was Prince Harry (see what they did there!) and Jonathan Meza was an outstanding Muddles.

It really was a family affair. Nigel Lythgoe’s son Kris wrote and produced it. Nigel’s former wife Bonnie directed it and Nigel even had a cameo!

The US audience loved it and the handful of Brits that were present lapped it all up proclaiming it to be a most excellent British export!

I really haven’t had such fun for ages. Oh no you didn’t!  Oh yes I did!!

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