The Fringe Theatre

Panto... so what's that all about??!


Panto – or pantomime to give it its full name – is a peculiarly quirky British form of family entertainment. Traditionally put on around the Holiday season/New Year, Pantos are largely based on any number of fairy tales.

While any traditional tale may get the Panto treatment, the most popular are Cinderella, Aladdin, Jack & the Beanstalk, and Peter Pan.

The principle audience for any Panto is families with children and involves lots of audience participation – prompted shouting, community singing, inviting audience on to stage etc. But there is plenty for the parents and grandparents with skits, topical jokes and plenty of thigh slapping!

Every Panto production is different with great scope for improvisation and ad lib. However, there are a number of traditions common to all shows. 


Principle amongst these are: 

  • Lots and lots of audience participation
  • Nasty villain or villains 
  • Pantomime Dame and main comic characters played by strapping males
  • Principle Boy, usually played by a young woman and looking mighty fine!
  • The MC as the audiences’ friend and chief "cheerleader"
  • Popular or well-known “pop” songs sometimes with changed words
  • Community audience singing & dancing
  • Comedy duo, slapstick routines, throwing candy and lots, lots more…

In 2009 we introduced Panto to New England with our production of "Cinderella". We followed that in 2010 with "Jack & the Beanstalk", "The Little Mermaid in 2012" and "Little Red Robin Hood", a Panto mash-up in 2013. In 2014 saw the first "American Panto" with "Sleeping Beauty: Lost in Time."

And we continued the "American Panto" in 2015 with "Rapunzel: A Mangled American Mash-up" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" in 2016. In 2017 we took a trip to Agrabah with "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" and then we ventured to the foothills of France with "Beauty and the Beast" in 2018. In 2019, our TENTH ANNUAL performance had us riding a tornado down the rabbit hole with some of our favorite storybook characters for the pointless mashup "Alice in Oz!"

While COVID-19 prevented the production of "Peter Panto" and forced the squad to take a hiatus in 2020, we returned triumphantly - and safely - to the stage in our first-ever holiday show, "A Christmas Panto!" in December 2021. 

Look out for our next Panto, coming to the stage in Spring 2022, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"


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