Tuesday, 18 October 2011


       Anyone who's ever squirmed in their seat while watching a pantomime may wonder what kind of audience it's aiming to attract. I well remember when attending pantos as a child being intensely irritated by the constant interruptions - singers promoting their latest hits, plate-spinning acrobats and, of course, the obligatory stand-up comedian (usually playing Buttons or a character called Jack). 
       Message to producers: Too much extra-curricular activity is BORING for children, adds nothing to the plot and may even alienate younger audiences.
       But, at least, back in the good old days pantos were clean - the occasional flash of Widow Twankey's bloomers being a notable exception. Nowadays, double innuendo has quadrupled and bad-taste jokes proliferate under the mistaken belief that they 'simply go over children's heads'.
       Message to producers: No they don't! Kids are remarkably good at hearing the things you don't want them to. Then they ask questions!
       Sorry to sound like Mary Whitehouse but in an era when foul language is the norm, lap-dancing clubs have royal seals of approval and even the most talented comics feel free to include every bodily function in their repertoire, surely, oh surely we can preserve just a little innocence for one small corner of the entertainment industry that is primarily meant for CHILDREN!

Act One Productions

       Fortunately, there are still good pantomimes out there, particularly from smaller companies such as Act One Productions who are dedicated to producing wholesome entertainment families can enjoy without embarrassment.
       Based in Bishop Auckland, Act One Productions is a professional touring company which travels the length and breadth of Britain, performing in schools, theatres, leisure centres, shopping arcades, village halls and even racecourses!

Original Pantomimes

       For 2013/14, they staged an original, specially commissioned new production, "Peter Pntastic", a fresh, quirky slant on J M Barrie's play, with all the popular panto traditions - plenty of  slapstick, rib-tickling jokes, songs, audience participation, a brilliant cast and wonderful special effects. This year's choice is "Aladdin & the Meanie Genie", with short versions of Cinderella and, for the first time, a summer production, appropriately title "Alice in Summerland" for schools, families and retirement homes. 
       Before launching her company in 2006, artistic director Jule Watson made a careful study of the genre, checking out watching various pantomimes throughout the UK. Dismayed at the poor standards and crudeness of many of these productions, she was determined Act One Productions would avoid obscene jokes and so-called 'adult' humour, especially when visiting schools. "Pantomime should be a magical experience for children, one their parents and grandparents can also enjoy without embarrassment." 
       All pantomimes, for schools and families, as well as shorter versions for  residential homes - are fresh, quirky and inventive,  thanks to great scripts, brilliant performances, and magical stage effects.

Act One Productions also caters for more mature audiences and a short version of "Cinderella" will be touring the UK this season. With just two actors, it was initially commissioned for nursing and retirement homes but is equally ideal for office parties, pubs, private gatherings and, of course, schools! This production joins its predecessors "Aladdin", "Jack & the Beanstalk" and 
"Robin Hood" which all met with 100% acclaim during the 2011-2013 panto seasons and have now been adapted for primary school pupil's and children's parties.



  1. Ah I like it! I think Panto has become a bit like Disney - in that it is scripted to be enjoyed on two completely different levels, one for the kids and one for adults. Ours have been really good in recent years.

  2. Hi I'm glad to have found your blog and will do more catching up in the new year when time is more abundant!
    At the moment my youngest is in panto in Chatham and I have always loved panto. I like the fact that there is humour for both adults and children but I do agree that kids of a certain age do pick up on the things you really wish would wash over them!!