It seems like only days since panto rehearsals started and all of a sudden we were at opening night! And we were all very excited.
Actually, it really was only a few days since rehearsals started. We say there’s three weeks of rehearsals, but in reality it’s only two and a half. They started on a Tuesday in the middle of the November and they rehearsed every day after school, plus Saturdays, for that week and the following week. Last week there were longer rehearsals from Monday, meaning my daughter missed some school.
I felt a bit detached from rehearsals this year as my daughter took herself there on a different school bus for the first two weeks. It meant I didn’t have my usual hanging around the rehearsal venue reading and chatting to the other mums. For the final week, I was picking her up from school and driving her there, which was a huge chunk out of my day, but well worth it!
Dress rehearsal was on Friday.
And opening night was on Saturday!
For the first time, we took our sons to opening night. The theatre was fairly full, although not packed. I guess most people want to go to panto a bit closer to Christmas. I felt quite emotional sat there waiting for it to start, and especially when the intro music began.
This was it. The moment all those dances and songs would piece together into a story. The moment I would understand what all those little anecdotes my daughter had told me actually meant.
The panto started, as pantos usually do, with a high energy dance number. My daughter was obscured for a lot of it by the adult actors and I spent most of the time craning my neck for a glimpse of her. From what I saw, she looked brilliant, as I knew she would.
This year, there are a lot of younger girls in it, plus my daughter has had a growth spurt. She has gone from number 2 (the second smallest and one of the cute ones) last year, to number 5 (the fourth biggest and definitely one of the big ones) this year. The advantage of being bigger is that they tend to have the bigger ones at the front and sometimes they do just a bit more dancing than the little ones. The little ones this year are particularly tiny and cute. I know my daughter was never that small because she was 9 when she started and always slightly above average height. Anyway I digress…
My daughter wasn’t in the first half that much – just the opening dance, a bit of acting as a servant and then a brief dance at the end.
But the good thing about panto is that it’s so brilliant it doesn’t matter if she’s on the stage or not. Because it is genuinely very funny. The script is hilarious and the actors are fantastic. Although this year the witch blew the others out of the water. She was absolutely incredible – at acting, singing and dancing. It was nice to see a couple of the actors from last year’s show back too.
There was more from the kids in the second half. There was the ‘baddies’ dance’ and the ‘he’s behind you’ scene. They were wearing masks for the baddies’ scene, so it was hard to find my daughter at first, but two things gave her away – the length of her plaits and the quality of her dancing. My husband thought he’d identified her, then realised the girl next to her was a better dancer. Of course he’d been looking at the wrong girl and my daughter was the better dancer.
My daughter shines in every dance. I know I’m biased, but she really does. She’s sharp and slick and her head is always high. Her face is always exactly right for the scene – beaming smile, shock, surprise, terror – she does it all. I’ll admit I didn’t look at the other girls that much. Why would I when I’m there to see my daughter and it’s such a proud moment? But as I watch the show again, I will start to look at the others too, especially my daughter’s good friend who she has always been with at panto.
Then there was a funny village scene with another very energetic dance. There was the big final dance and my daughter also brought on the goodie bags for the children in the singalong.
The singalong is always hilarious because it’s different every time. Who knows what the kids are going to say and how they are going to react? Plus this year’s song is genius and particularly funny. When you’re sitting there singing along to a funny song at the top of your voice, it’s a surreal experience. It’s unique to panto. It’s not something you would do at any other time of the year and it’s part of what makes panto so special.
My daughter had a range of costumes – a couple of different servants, a villager’s outfit, a nasty wolf, some sort of shrub (really!) and the obligatory change into something shiny and spectacular for the wedding scene at the end. Because doesn’t every panto end with a wedding?
It was a fantastic show. Last year, it took me probably three times of watching before I really fell in love with it and decided it was as good as the previous year. This year, I’m already wondering if it’s the best yet. I’m going to see it four more times and I can’t wait! By the end I will know exactly which scene/ song/ costume comes where (I’m still slightly hazy from opening night) and will know half of the script.
Bring it on!