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The Best Of The Pantomime Villains – What is it that captivates and enthrals audiences to flock to their local panto for acts of supervillains?
How come all famous actors go all out to cross-dress and become supervillains for laughs?
Ever wondered why Pantomime villains get standing ovations? Surprisingly, every actor secretly wants to play the character of a baddie. Wondering why?
Surprisingly, baddies are completely addictive. They are free to disregard every single rule learned about theatre. The best of the Pantomime villains have the free hand to do whatever they want. They don’t pine over the results like the Pantomime heroes.
Heroes are too predictable. On the other hand, villains are the living legends of complicity, deceit, lies, and unrealistic dimensions. In contrast, the best of the Pantomime villains are even entitled to misbehave, overact, and be disdainful of the audience. Interestingly, laughable but true, the nastier are the villains, the more are they loved by the audiences. Add some side-splitting comedy and spectacular sets, and the fun just gets better!
The world is full of admirers of Dracula, Vampires, Zombies, and all! Certainly, this is because the best of the villains run away unconstrained by the limits of conventional truth and morality. They somehow exist outside boundaries of the reality itself. The evils of Pantomime villains, even at their most realistic, somehow tend to hold on to a touch of the unreal. For instance, you just cannot keep a supervillain tied down for long. Apparently, the best of the Pantomime villains would escape as quickly and often as they please much to the delight, surprise, horror, and amusement of the audience. In ways, being a supervillain feels liberating! Some of us also love villains as we believe that being a villain is any day better than being a victim. The virtue of self-assertion gets transformed into destruction real soon.
On the whole, the mix of emotions like thrill, fear, and vulnerability repulse us. Eventually, the thought of exploring the evil through fiction filters can help us mull over the worst to be faced by humanity without voyeuristically dwelling or turning away on human tragedies.
Let us revisit some of the best of the Pantomime villains and how they managed to win the hearts of everyone in the audience.
Captain Hook – Peter Pan
The character of Captain Hook in Peter Pan was left memorable for years to come. A flamboyant villain, to say the least — the wonderfully sneering and swaggering Hook is unmatchable. In particular, Hook loved his bad boy reputation. He really had a penchant for taking charge, and we are not just talking about his ship. Should more be said about him? Come on!
Jafar – Aladdin, The Arabian Nights
How can anyone just forget Jafar in the all-time classic of Aladdin, The Arabian Nights? The thought of a deceptive, manipulative, and malicious advisor influencing a bumbling and weak monarch may be an old story. However, the character of Jafar did take slick to a completely and all-together different level.
Fortunately and hilariously, he somehow failed to depose the Sultan, but that was known to everyone. But his attempts to topple the Sultan’s crown did bring enough laughter to the table. Interestingly, Aladdin and the Genie may have bagged the limelight, but there is no denying that it was Jafar who illuminated the entire screen.
Prince John And Sir Hiss – Robin Hood
Disney took the best of the Pantomime villains to a completely amazing league with Prince John and Sir Hiss in Robin Hood. This classic tale of skulduggery on a whole zoo full of interesting animals is clearly awesome.
However, the standout performances were of Prince John who was shown as a lion and Sir Hiss, the snake who was an advisor to the Prince. Surprisingly, the distinct gapped teeth added to the character of the advisor to facilitate an easy space for the forked tongue to dart out was indeed brilliant!
Wicked Queen – Snow White And The Seven Dwarf
The wicked Queen of Snow White just cannot be left out when it comes to the best of Pantomime villains. The Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarf set the standards for villains of the future. At the same time, she managed to haunt a generation of dreams of children with her pure vileness.
Cruella De Vil – 101 Dalmatians
The character of Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians is right there with the very best of the Pantomime villains. Interestingly, Cruella’s belief that all newborn puppies born without spots are mongrels is just too much to handle for any audience! Her piercing cry of “dahhlinng” every time she made an entry transformed to terrifying shrieks of horror for the audiences.
In short, Pantomime’s heroes managed to get their due recognition only because they had tough competitors in the best of the Pantomime villains. Simply said, amazing heroes require amazing villains. Without supervillains, even the Superman and Batman would seem like overpowered and obsessed brutes that have nothing much to do than just nabbing thugs and thieves, unworthy of their powers and skills.
Ah, we love the baddies! Don’t we?
Also take a loot at our other blog features;
The Inner Workings of a Great Pantomime
and of course our History of Pantomime Dame Info graphic
Main Image © IanTilton.net/theatre
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