The pantomime season this year, just wasn’t the same without the plethora of pantomime happening up and down the country. Fortunately, it’s still possible to get your panto fill with this year’s range of online pantomimes. Recorded live, and streamed online for your panto viewing pleasure. I’ve watched around 15 shows this year in person and online, and here’s my round up of some of the best that you can still watch (for a limited time only!)
NB. All streaming dates were correct at time of publishing, but productions are extending streaming dates on a daily basis due to the latest lockdown announcement.
The Traditional Pantomime
Dick Whittington at King’s Theatre Portsmouth
Until 31st January 2021
The King’s Theatre pulled off a big feat this year by fully staging a pantomime in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It may not have been able to make it all the way to the end of it’s physical run, but they’ve filmed the show, in excellent quality, for your enjoyment from home. If you’re looking for a traditional family pantomime to watch online this year which is close to the real experience, this is about as good as it gets.
The Online Pantomime
Jack and the Beanstalk at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Until 10th January 2021
The Belgrade came through in 2020, with a pantomime written and filmed especially for digital release. The traditional Jack and the Beanstalk story is given a panto treatment with some fun visual effects and one of the nation’s great dames (Iain Lauchlan).
The Original Panto Story
Dame Dolly Saves Panto at Hawth Theatre, Crawley
Until 17th January 2021
Evolution Productions’ season has been fantastic. Not only do they have the best dames in the business, but this original pantomime story has been a hit up and down the country this year, also featuring in their offering at Sheffield Theatres and The Marlowe, Canterbury. But your last chance to see it is at Crawley’s Hawth Theatre with the fabulous dame Michael J Batchelor (who also makes some of the best frocks in the business.) It’s a great length for younger children, and has plenty of panto fun running through an original storyline. Special shout out for the musical direction of these shows which James Harrison has taken to an all new level this year.
The Whistle-Stop Panto
Tweedy’s Reduced Pantomime at Cheltenham Everyman
Until 15th January 2021
This riotous romp through every (yes, every!) pantomime title has oodles of fun with brilliant visual comedy from Tweedy the clown, a laugh-filled script from Samuel Holmes and a fantastic cast. Not to mention sharp direction from Holmes, and Nick Winston, fabulous choreography and spot-on musical direction from Charlie Ingles (I’d advise a TV and sound system to hear how brilliant it is). It is also by far one of the most original shows on offer this year with a fantastic concept, and wonderful gags.
The Fringe Theatre Panto
Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown by Charles Court Opera at King’s Head Theatre
Until 10th January 2021
Charles Court Opera produce some of the country’s most original (and pocket-sized) pantomimes every year at the King’s Head Theatre. This year, they’ve taken their offering online with a panto filmed for online release with ‘choose your own adventure’ style options. At various points in the show you can decide how you watch the story unfold. Given the name of the company, it won’t surprise you that the signing is top-notch and there are some really clever gags throughout the show as well as a really brilliant ‘Magic Mirror’ effect.
The Panto In the Round
Dick Whittington at the National Theatre
Until 23 January 2021
For only the second time in their history, the National Theatre produced a pantomime this year. And excitingly they pushed the boundaries of the form creating an in-the-round extravaganza filled with fun, fantasy and filth (both the dirt, and the adult humour kind). Now, the show is totally family friendly, but let’s just say there’s plenty for the adults to enjoy too. There are some really fantastic stage effects including Queen Rat’s toilet, and (no spoilers) the way she meets her very sticky baked-bean related end in the show’s climax. The musical direction is also stunning, and the lighting and sound are truly wonderful.
The Adult Pantomime
Cinderella: A Socially Distanced Ball at the Turbine Theatre
Until 10th January
This pantomime – the first to take place at the new Turbine Theatre, is filled with fun, filth and two of the funniest ugly sisters I’ve ever seen. There are lots of fun musical theatre references, and original jokes in this script by Jodie Prenger & Neil Hurst. It is full of acerbic one-liners and a rude shout out that the audience delights in joining in with every time Buttons appears. Best enjoyed with a bottle of wine, and some housemates, you’ll be laughing from start to finish.
So that’s my favourites from this season which you can still watch online. I’d love to hear about your favourite pantomimes from this season. You can email me on [email protected] or get in touch via the website.