Lots of amateur theatre groups up and down the country put on Pantomimes every year and many are generally well attended. With increasing popularity of the large regional and mid scale professional pantomimes, how can you keep on top of the game with your pantomimes?
Include children, and lots of them
Junior cast members are an integral part of the cast of any pantomime. Not only do they provide a great bed of talent for the whole group but they also bring a really enthusiasm and happiness to the whole process of rehearsals which can often be stressful. Children also have a wider network of people who want to come and see them in the show, so it’s good for ticket sales too.
Pick your pantomime around your cast
I reckon there’s little excuse for bad casting in amateur pantomimes. There’s often lots of local talent on offer and if you pick your script around a cast which you’re 99% sure you can fulfil then you’re one step closer to a more professional production.
Many amateur pantomimes have home made set and costumes, often made with help from local tradesmen and husbands etc. One great way of improving the quality of your panto is by taking inspiration from the many professional pantos around by having a continuous style and vision for the design of your piece. For example, some pantos have a very story-book style set, bright and colourful and some have more intricate detailing and ‘inside jokes’. If you can bring your style in together, it will look more professional.
Pick a good script
There are lots of options when picking your amateur pantomime script and there are plenty of professional writers who each have their own versions of the traditional pants stories. A good script will have a strong structure with front of tab scenes and larger full-sets, a heap of comedy and all the traditional aspects that audiences expect from a pantomime- the dame, the baddie, the comic/comedy duo, a strong morale grounding and lots of room for your music choices. My scripts always have a hint of adventure too so that everyone in the family is kept entertained.
Deliver it well
One of the biggest problems with other amateur pantomime groups ‘ productions that I’ve seen recently is that they plod along and lines are delivered without feeling as if they’re being read from a script. Try to bring your piece alive with pace (not speed- there is a distinct difference) and good line delivery to get that extra sparkle. Strong, clear, paced delivery makes for a good show and funny scenes. You don’t need to be Judi Dench, just think about how your lines are delivered and that will help in the first instance.
If you can tick these 5 things off your to-do list, you’re in good stead for a successful show, and most importantly, one that audiences will want to come and see again next year!