I’m sure many families are planning a trip to the pantomime this festive season – after all, it is part of Christmas tradition. Oh, no it isn’t. Oh, yes it is!
But for children who haven’t been to a panto before, it might be worth preparing them a little, so they know what to expect before the lights go down and the bad guy starts shouting at them! I have certainly learnt from experience that a little preparation can go a long way - how many times, for example, have you built up the excitement of visiting santa’s grotto, seeing moving dinosaurs or going to a music show only to leave a few minutes after arriving because your child is terrified by the dark or the noise – or something else unexpected?
With pantomime, it definitely helps to choose a panto which your children know the story of - although explain that there may be some extra characters and people will be in funny fancy dress (female Peter Pans and male Tinkerbells!). It can also be helpful to explain a little bit about the traditions of pantomime – i.e. it is great fun, everyone will boo and hiss loudly at the baddies, the good guys will be OK in the end and the audience have to join in by shouting things like “Oh no it isn’t” and singing some songs.
When booking your panto, don’t forget the local productions as well as the main theatres in city centres. For first timers, these may be more suitable as they will be a little smaller and less noisy. Also, consider taking your own sweets and drinks as these can be pricey in the theatre.
With a little pre-show preparation (without spoiling their fun) the pantomime will be much more enjoyable and you may even get to see the whole show. Oh, no you won't. Oh, yes you will!
Have you ever had a bad pantomime experience with the children, and what else have you done to prepare them?