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Blackpool Grand Theatre knows a thing or two about pantomimes. Bringing the UK’s most loved pantomimes to the stage since 1899 “Dick Whittington and his Cat”, from the pantomime songs, the pantomime dames, to the most traditional pantomimes, we decided it was about time to look at the most popular pantomimes of all time, their history, and why they are so revered.
Read on for the ultimate list of pantomimes, to inspire you and get you ready for the pantomime season with the Blackpool Grand.
List of pantomime characters
There are several features and characters that are essential to make a good pantomime. Usually, the show will include the following:
- Principal boy
- Principal girl
- The villain
- Good/bad fairy
- Comedy characters
- Pantomime dame
- Panto animal
- Slapstick scene
Read more: Check out our Complete Guide to Pantomime.
How do you make a good pantomime?
There are several elements that make a successful pantomime. You’ll need a panto script full of laughs, a fantastic pantomime set, and a good central story, which will usually involve good vs evil. Most pantomimes will also include a singalong that will involve the audience.
What are the traditional pantomimes?
The traditional pantomimes include:
- Peter Pan
- Dick Whittington
- Sleeping Beauty
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Snow White
- Beauty and the Beast
- Puss in Boots
List of popular pantomimes
The Peter Pan pantomime is a popular pantomime based on J M Barrie’s novel about the boy who never grew up. With one of the most famous villains of all time, Captain Hook, and a story about finding Neverland with plenty of adventures along the way, Peter Pan is one of the later additions to the pantomime list.
The real story of Peter Pan can be dated back to 1902. The story was first adapted to stage in 1950, and there have been several film adaptations over the years. Peter Pan saw a musical revival in 2014, with ‘Peter Pan Live!’ broadcast on NBC.
Read more: Check out our History of Peter Pan infographic!
List of Peter Pan characters:
- Peter Pan
- Wendy, John and Michael
- Captain Hook
- Tiger Lily
- Lost Boys
to mention a few!
Dick Whittington is arguably one of the longest-running pantomimes.
Featuring the traditional features of pantomime, with a principal boy traditionally played by a young woman, Dick Whittington is a tale of adventure. The story of Dick Whittington and his cat is classed as English Folklore, as it tells the true story of Richard Whittington, who was once Lord Mayor of London.
The story centralises on his rise from a poverty-stricken childhood to a great fortune, through selling his cat to a country that’s infested with rats. The rags to riches tale and the inclusion of his cat is said to be inaccurate to real life. However, Dick Whittington’s cat plays a central role in the much-loved pantomime, which is revisited most years by theatres up and down the country.
The panto version also features ‘King Rat’, as the central villain, defeated by Dick Whittington in the play.
Sleeping Beauty is another famous pantomime that is much loved and performed frequently. One of the more traditional fairy tales, the story centralises on a baby princess who is cursed by an evil queen.
Three good fairies manage to alter her fate and cast her into an enchanted sleep, which she is awoken from by a Prince. The sleeping beauty panto features beautiful costumes, sets, and an entertaining trio of fairies as well as a traditional fairy tale story the whole family can enjoy.
Characters in Sleeping Beauty:
- Princess Aurora
- Prince Philip
- King & Queen
- Three fairies (Flora, Fauna, Merryweather)
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk is another famous tale that is traditionally performed and revered around the UK. The Jack and the Beanstalk story dates back to 1734 and is nostalgic for everyone, depicting a tale of adventure, trials and tribulations as a young boy named Jack trades his family cow for some magic beans.
The adventure that awaits him involves a giant goose, a golden egg, and a not so friendly giant! The mystery and intrigue of climbing the beanstalk and heading into the clouds make this a pantomime full of wonder and excitement that never fails to be enjoyed by audiences young and old. The Jack and the Beanstalk giant has one of the most famous lines in pantomime history: ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!’
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is another well-loved, well-revered pantomime. Dating back to 1812, the Grimm Fairy Tales feature Snow White. The first Broadway show was in 1912.
Read more: Check out our articles on the History of Snow White
Characters in Snow White pantomime:
- Snow White
- Evil Queen
- 7 Dwarves
Blackpool Grand Theatre’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs features Steve Royle, and all the traditional elements of pantomime the whole family will enjoy.
Offering an enchanting getaway into the magical land of genies, princesses and magic lamps, Aladdin is a popular pantomime that has merged in recent years.
Bringing together all the best elements of a traditional pantomime, including a tale of good vs evil, Aladdin has Arabic origins, with the story originating around ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’.
Featuring a young boy on a quest to change his future, expect all the traditional elements of pantomime as the hero takes on Abanazar, who is out to take the lamp for himself. Aladdin first appeared as a pantomime at Covent Garden in 1788.
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is another famous pantomime that is known and loved by all ages. Featuring the central character Belle, the story that was brought to the cinematic screen by Disney in 1991.
The story features plenty of musical numbers, as well as a host of characters that are well known and loved by all. Set in a wondrous land with a mysterious castle full of secrets and characters that will enchant, this much-loved fairy tale is enjoyed year after year on the pantomime circuit.
From the fabulously fiendish Gaston to the mysterious Beast, with some fantastic dance numbers too, it’s a family treat.
Puss in Boots
Who doesn’t love puss in boots? This furry tale of a particularly courageous and plucky cat has been enjoyed for years.
A popular fairy tale, the story of Puss in Boots was first brought to pantomime stage in 1817 in Covent Garden. With a dame, a comic, a princess, an ogre and a fairy, it has all the features of a classic fairy tale.
The story of Puss in Boots focuses on the cat’s canniness and cleverness, as he defeats the ogre and, alongside his master, enjoys a life of splendour. Full of escapades and adventure, the pantomime of Puss in Boots is a classic for all to enjoy.
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