Panto Season is Coming!

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of October 29, 2018

Pantomime season is approaching in the U.K, which for many British television viewers is a chance to see some of their favorite celebrities up close.

Tea Time Tidbit

Dawn French and Nigel Havers appearing in Snow White


This year for instance, the actress and comedian Dawn French, who stars as Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley, will be appearing in London’s West End in Snow White. French plays the Wicked Queen in the show, which will be the actress’s panto debut. The show’s director, who reportedly has been trying to “coax Dawn for a long time,” promises the audience that French will be “funny, with a twinkle in her eye.”

Another celebrity appearing in Snow White, playing a character known as The Understudy, is Nigel Havers. We last saw Havers on MPT in Downton Abbey playing Rosamund Painswick’s fortune hunting wooer Lord Jinx Hepworth.

Tea Time Tidbit

Robert Lindsay as Captain Hook

Also venturing into pantomime land for the first time in his long acting career this year is My Family star Robert Lindsay. He’ll be spending the holidays in Richmond, playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan. A beneficiary of the show is Great Ormond Street Hospital, to whom author JM Barrie gifted the rights of his much loved story back in 1929. Lindsay credits the hospital with saving his daughter’s life when she was four, which is one of the reasons Lindsay gives for doing the show.

In case you’re not familiar with British Pantomime, it’s a centuries old tradition that puts a humorous and, oftentimes over-the-top, silly spin on a classic fairy tale. It then adds singing, dancing, colorful scenery, a costumed horse and in recent times magic tricks and special effects.

The older female character in traditional pantomime is always played by a man, and the young hero in the story (Prince Charming for instance) is played by a young female in tights and a tunic. There’s lots of loud audience participation, as the characters on stage conduct an on-going dialogue with the audience. It’s a rowdy and oftentimes bawdy show, but the jokes usually go straight over the children’s heads because more than anything Pantomime is family entertainment.

If you want to see a pantomime for yourself, there’s an opportunity to do so from November 30-December 16 at the Kensington Town Hall in Maryland, when the British Players in Kensington present their annual traditional Panto, which this year is Frosted. Told in traditional panto style with song, dance, dialogue, jokes, gags, mild innuendo, Frosted tells the story of two Princesses as one struggles to control her increasing magical powers and the other yearns to explore beyond the castle walls. For more information www.britishplayers.org.

Tea Time Tidbit

The British Players annual traditional British Panto


To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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