At times like these, it’s sensible to be financially prudent when producing your annual pantomime. I thought it would be useful to share some thoughts on ways you can save money on your pantomime without cutting corners.
Use things you already own
Most amateur pantomime groups will have a host of useful things sitting in storage – maybe some that you didn’t even know were there. Perhaps there’s a lamp from the last time you performed Aladdin, a dress from Sleeping Beauty you can repurpose for Rapunzel, or a backdrop of the open sea you’d previously used for Dick Whittington which you can now recycle for Peter Pan or Robinson Crusoe. I once found a hoard of dame’s dresses which hadn’t been used for years, so we stitched up some repairs, shortened them to give them a more modern look, and they went down a treat.
Small additions to make big changes
This is one of my favourite ways to save money when producing a pantomime – making small additions or changes to existing materials can make all the difference. If you take a village flat from a previous production, you could change the colour of the brickwork and the shape of the window. If you can’t afford for a character to have more than one costume but you’d like them to have a different look, can you add or change accessories to keep it fresh. A great way to do this is to add an apron to the pantomime dame, or a different jacket or waistcoat for the King or Squire. Small changes like this can make it look like you have more budget than you do!
Borrow things from nearby groups and contacts
Always be on the look out for things you could borrow from groups in the surrounding area. If you’re performing Jack and the Beanstalk next year, is there a nearby group you can borrow a beanstalk from? I’ve found in the past that often with storage at a premium, you can even get things for free if you agree to take bulk items off their hands. Perhaps you’ll even get a giant thrown in, too! Other items it’s great to look out for are skin costumes (ie. cows, pandas, horses etc.), magic carpets, set pieces for Aladdin‘s laundrette scene, and Sleeping Beauty‘s spinning wheel.
Compare prices before you buy
At the risk of sounding like a certain meerkat, it really is worth comparing the price of items before you buy. I’ve found this to be especially true for tech hiring companies. Often the quotes for lights, microphones, truss, track and curtains vastly differ. You can really make a saving simply by shopping around and checking that you really do have the best deal.
Negotiate prices if you can
Following on from comparing prices, it’s always worth checking if you can negotiate a lower price, especially if you’re hiring a lot of kit from a company. For example, if you are a regular customer with big orders, you could ask for a bulk discount. Or if you’re collecting for a charity at the end of the show, you could take that angle and explain that the more you’re able to raise, the more you can give to the charity at the end of the show. Companies are often willing to be flexible when they can be, especially for loyal customers.
If you have other tips on how to save money producing an amateur pantomime, I’d love to hear them and I will happily share with other groups to help everyone out. Get in touch with your suggestions here.