12th June 2021
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Panto Is Back Online As The UK And London’s West End Close Again

Panto Is Back Online As The UK And London’s West End Close Again
By Michelle Sciarrotta

In yet another disappointing twist to the ongoing coronavirus story, the UK has once more been closed ahead of Christmas 2020. London in particular faced new restrictions that came into place on Wednesday 16th December, meaning the city had to close down a number of socially distanced shows that were being performed on the West End, as well as Christmas Pantomimes.

Shows included Six the Musical, Love Letters, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and Pantoland at the London Palladium. Once more, many Arts professionals have vented their frustration with the UK government’s back-and-forth approach to the entertainment and hospitality industries, with the latest changes coming very quickly after the covid-compliant reopening of these shows.

Online Pantomime For The Family

The good news is that thankfully we are living in the technological age and many companies are providing shows online, whether by way of pre-filmed performances, or by the innovative medium of streamed live performances.

You can find 5 of our previous top picks of family-friendly pantomimes, ranging from free and pre-recorded to ticketed live streamed shows here.

Jack and the Beanstalk Online

In an exciting change of character, Peaky Blinders star Packy Lee is taking the lead role in the Ulster Theatre Company’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk which will be released online. The company explains:

“We realise that nothing can completely replace live pantomime, but, in this challenging time for theatres Ulster Theatre Company has re-mastered a great recording of its 2011 blockbuster Jack and the Beanstalk, performed at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh to bring much needed seasonal cheer to young and old alike at a price that promises access to all.”

Since 1994 the Ulster Theatre Company has produced and staged a range of lauded pantomimes at the Spires Centre, Belfast; Waterfront Hall, Belfast; Millennium Forum, Derry; the Market Place Theatre, Armagh; An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny and the Civic Theatre, Tallaght.

Jack and the Beanstalk is written and directed by Michael Poynor with original music by Mark Dougherty (MD of the world wide tours of Riverdance), these pantomimes have been seen by nearly half a million people. The show features twenty seven different characters, including, ‘Clutterbuck’: The Riverdancing Cow; an Easter Bunny; Six Magic Beans; Seven Skeletons; Two-headed Giant Bonecruncher and Al Capone!

Jack and the Beanstalk can be streamed directly to into your home here.

Cost will be £9.99 per household, and the show is available from 19th December to 31st January.

Please email UTC at [email protected] for further information.


Interactive Panto For Grown-Ups

Heartbreak Productions, best known for open-air theatre, is jumping into the panto game with an original, live-streamed, online panto (for grown-ups) Tinsel in my Pants!

The company say:

“Never content with being conventional, Heartbreak saw no reason to stage an ordinary panto. The story follows Terri the theatre tech as she bah-humbugs her way through another Zoom quiz. She gets sucked into Panto-Land via a faulty signal and must find her way back, revisiting 2020s challenges while coping with dames, damsels, and The Donald. This is very hard to do when Puss in Boots is carrying a whip and thinks 50 Shades of Grey is an instruction manual. Tinsel in my Pants is Heartbreak’s first piece of live, online theatre and will be done in true Heartbreak style with songs, silliness, and audience involvement.”

The script is written in collaboration between Peter Mimmack, Heartbreak’s artistic director, and Emma Hodgkinson, founder of Dripping Honey Poetry. While Heartbreak traditionally tours open-air theatre (2021 will be their 30th year), 2020 has necessitated a shift in focus. During lockdown they created Heartbreak at Home, showing past productions for free on their YouTube channel and produced an Arts Council funded film project called Escape From Lockdown.

This live, online panto is the latest answer from Heartbreak to the persistent Covid-19 question: how do we continue to provide cultural engagement and entertainment to our audiences in these topsy-turvy times?

The answer – with love and laughter, and of course, a bit of silliness never goes amiss.

Tinsel in my Pants is suitable for ages 15+ and will be live streamed:

January 9th 2.30pm and 8.00pm January 10th 3.00pm and 7.30pm

Tickets available at www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk

Standard Ticket Price £15 (concessions available)

Also by Michelle Sciarrotta:

Pantomime Online: Where To Watch For Christmas 2020

Accessibility At The Smith Center Series: Part One

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