Ah, tis the season to be jolly and what better way to get us into the spirit of Christmas than by going to see a London pantomime. This production of Snow White follows Cinderella in 2016 and Dick Whittington in 2017 at the historic London Palladium.
This version of the famous tale is also notable for offering a London pantomime debut for TV’s Dawn French. Best known for playing Geraldine in the Vicar of Dibley the funny woman will be bringing her natural gift for comedy to the West End between the 8th of December and the 13th January as Snow White begins a limited season at the theatre.
French will play The Wicked Queen in the new production with able support from panto regulars Julian Clary (The Man in the Mirror), Paul Zerdin (Muddles), Nigel Havers (The Understudy) and Gary Wilmot (Mrs Crumble). Two stars of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace-Mistry, will also join the cast, playing The King and The Queen.
This version of the show will be produced by Nick Thomas and Michael Harrison with stage design by Ian Westbook, costumes from Hugh Durrant and special effects from the Twins FX. Original music comes from Gary Hind and lighting is by Ben Cracknell. Micheal Harrison directs the production.
The London Palladium has a rich tradition of pantomime which goes all the way back to 1914 and a production of Dick Whittington. However, after a Christmas run of Babes in the Wood in 1987, no new productions took place at the theatre until Pantomime specialists Qdos revived the tradition in 2016 with their production of Cinderella. The show was a massive hit and Dick Whittington followed in 2017.
Pantomime is a classical entertainment which was popular throughout the roman empire. Roman pantomime drew heavily on Greek tragedy although the new genre was generally performed by a single artist with a musical accompaniment performed by a solo singer or choir. This early form of pantomime was wordless and relied heavily on masks, poses, gestures and hand signals.
A much more modern version of the genre developed in the middle ages in Britain. The traditional Mummer’s folk plays were roughly based on the legend of St George and the dragon but they contained many of the staples of modern pantomime including fights, bawdy humour and gender reversal.
Another major influence on the development of the modern form of the genre was the Italian theatre type, commedia dell’arte. This was a type of theatre performed by bands of travelling performers who travelled from town to town putting on improvised comedies. The form became increasingly popular in England in the 17th century and it gave rise to the standard Harlequinade.
The Harlequinade was a mime with accompanying music and dance which became known for its humour and slapstick comedy. The form developed spoken elements and contains many of the elements of modern pantomime.
The London Palladium’s version of Snow White runs from the 8th of December 2018 until the 13th of January 2019.
For more information on Snow White at the London Palladium, please click here.
For information on Christmas events in London, please click here.