Things that panto rehearsals have taught me


Flyer for Aladdin

Flyer for Aladdin

This week, I have mostly been rehearsing for Aladdin, the pantomime to be performed very, very soon at the Winter Gardens in Margate.  On Tuesday, the cast (sans Dame, who arrived on Wednesday), met and began blocking the scenes.  We were soon into the swing of audience participation, learning the songs, figuring out how much teasing people can take and generally getting the show ready.  It’s always nice when casts get along together, and we do.  I have also discovered that we have much to teach each other.  I’m sure I have much still to learn, but for the benefit of my readers, lessons from the first week of rehearsals include:

Men should not moisturise. Ever. According to Princess Jasmine, it is unmanly.  As are many other things, including shaving your armpits (but really, why would any man want to shave their armpits?).  Baking biscuits is a good thing according to all who consumed the ones I took in on Wednesday, but it is also unmanly.  Drat!

I come as a package deal with the Emperor of China. To be fair, we are friends, but we seem to be seen as a unit, possibly a double act by some people.  If we were to become a double act, we could definitely use our middle names as the title of our act, but I shall leave that title as a mystery.

Tradition! I love panto, and I love all the traditions of the genre, but it has been very eye-opening to see just how many traditional elements and rules there are, sometimes competing with one another.  Most people are also very protective of their character and their gags, which can be quite amusing.

Padiddle. This is a wonderful game to play with a car full of people on a wintry night.  If you spot a car with one headlight out, then you shout ‘padiddle!’ and score a point.  Simple, but most amusing – well done, PC Pong, who introduced the game to us.  Apparently, according to my extensive research, it has been played with varying rules for decades, but this simple version is fine for me.

Black canvas trainers are de rigueur. They are spreading like a plague among the cast.  My favourite panto rehearsal picture so far is the shot at the foot of this post, looking down at the matching feet of the Genie, Aladdin and PCs Ping and Pong.  I did let the side down by wearing a different pair of trainers to today’s dance rehearsal, though.  We may be able to make them official uniform by the time we’re finished.

The funniest thing I can do is sing. The role of the Genie of the Lamp is not a comic role really (which is OK with me, truly it is), but I did manage to raise a huge laugh during the session where we went over the finale in our music rehearsal.  Everything in the show is in a somewhat unusual style for me, but something must have clicked in my head on the second sing-through and I cut loose with my vocal.  This took those who have worked with me before by surprise and made them laugh.  At first, I was alarmed, and thought that I might have done something awfully wrong, but I was reassured that the reaction was because it was ‘so right’ but ‘excessively unexpected’.  Of course, being me, I now fear that I have peaked too soon vocally.  But at least I know that I once did it well enough to make people laugh.

I really ought to charge an ‘Ask a Librarian’ fee. It amused me that when Aladdin wasn’t sure how to pronounce a particular word, he asked me.  Others have checked geographical facts with me (yes, there is a Thebes in Egypt, and yes, Egypt is in Africa) or otherwise sought explanations for the more esoteric aspects of their lines.  However, I drew the line at researching “he’s so fat he…” jokes.  A librarian’s powers are not to be squandered!  I am known to some as ‘D– the librarian’, not just ‘D–‘ or ‘thingummy who plays the Genie’.  This just goes to show that you can take the librarian out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the librarian.

Panto is hard work, but fun. I think I already knew that, though.  And of course, if you’re in Kent, want to experience the fun, and see the Singing Librarian alongside a whole bunch of talented people including Ben Mills and Mark Arden in Aladdin, come along to Margate Winter Gardens from 16th-25th January.  Tickets can be booked by telephone on 01843 296111/292795.  I, the great djinn, the genie of the lamp, would be delighted to see you there.

The WordPress ‘spellchecker’ function does not recognise the word djinn. How strange.

Proof that the cast of Aladdin all have the same dress sense?

Proof that the cast of Aladdin all have the same dress sense?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: