The amateur panto auditions

When we received the devastating news earlier this year that my daughter wouldn’t be able to do her usual panto, because they were going going to be working with specific dance schools,I started to look for an alternative. There were no other professional pantos around, because it seems that pretty much all of them work with dance schools. So I looked for an amateur panto instead.

I hadn’t realised, but apparently it’s quite normal to put on amateur pantos in January. I found one of those and also a Christmas show, which was performed right over the Christmas period, but wasn’t actually a panto. I got in touch with the organisers to find out more. There were pros and cons of both of them – performing over Christmas would be preferable, but doing an actual panto would also be preferable. One show was on for a much shorter time than the other, but it only had one team of kids, whereas the other show had three teams of kids – so they would probably end up with the same number of performances.

It had to be my daughter’s decision which show she went for. Although, looking at the rehearsal and performance dates and times for them, she would actually have been able to do both of them without any clashes. And she wouldn’t have had to miss any ballet classes either (it’s important not to miss many ballet classes, especially as she has her Grade 4 exam coming up).

As it happens, the actual panto had a couple of read through evenings at the end of the summer holidays, which my daughter went along to. Once she’d done that, there was no going back. She was sold on the amateur panto, rather than the Christmas show.

In a professional panto, children are just in the chorus, with maybe one child with a ‘main’ non-speaking part. At the amateur panto, there are speaking parts, chorus and dancers. The auditions were held on two separate dates.

The first audition was for the small speaking parts. She had a script to practise from (she didn’t need to learn her lines) and had to decide which part she was interested in. The audition also involved singing, which she says she can’t do. This isn’t true. She’s not a brilliant singer, but she’s good enough. She even has singing lessons, in case she decides to follow her dream of a career in the theatre. At her regular panto, the auditions are only dancing and, as an amazing dancer, she has nothing to worry about there.

How would she get on with singing and acting?

There were tears over the singing just before the audition. She definitely couldn’t sing, apparently.

There were 12 children auditioning for seven roles. The kids were aged from about 9 or 10 to about 14. They all went in and out of the rehearsal room, working in different combinations of kids with different adult actors.

At the very last minute, they did the singing. They sang A Million Dreams as a group, then all sang a line each.

‘I don’t know where it came from, but I did the best singing I’ve ever done.’

What more could you ask?

As it happens, she didn’t get a speaking part. The director told us later (as we’d already suspected), that it was all to do with size. They needed seven kids and they needed to be a good fit with the lead actor. My daughter was eighth smallest (aka fifth biggest) and she just missed out. If they’d used a bigger lead actor, the taller kids may have had a chance.

But all of the kids who’d auditioned had done really well and were all guaranteed a chorus role if they wanted it.

We asked the director what the difference was between dancer and chorus. It made sense for my daughter to audition as a dancer, but she didn’t want to find that she only had one dance and the chorus were on the stage all the time. The director told her there would be four or five dances, including a ballet and probably a tap number (I don’t write much about tap, but my daughter loves it). It was a no-brainer. She was auditioning as a dancer.

The dancer auditions were held a week after the other auditions.

There were 10 girls there and they wanted up to 12 of them. Dancers could be aged 7-16, so I was rather surprised to see that my daughter was the youngest there, and that she and her friend were considerably smaller than the other girls.

The audition only lasted 20 minutes. They just had to show they could do a few moves. Apparently one or two of the others were really good and one or two weren’t very good, with everyone else somewhere in between. But surely they would take all of them? Unless they had other people up their sleeves lined up for it?

It was two days before we got the email. My daughter is a dancer in the amateur panto. Rehearsals start next week. It’s going to be a very different experience to her usual panto, but it is something to look forward to and to focus on for the autumn and winter. I look forward to sharing it with my daughter (and no doubt I’ll be sharing some of it on my blog too!).

Panto, Daughter, The amateur panto

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. how lovely to read she will still have the excitement of rehearsals and shows to do, I am really pleased for her – well done.
    I am taking it this is just local am dram with no big names pulling in the audience?
    Well done to her also for giving the singing her best go and with being happy she did well at it, gives her confidence for the same sort of thing in the future.

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    • Thanks very much. It won’t be quite the same, but it’s good to know she will still have something to work towards. We’re looking forward to rehearsals starting now!

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  2. Aww! Well done your girl. How lovely to read.
    I bet she is so excited. I remember how sad she was when she wasn’t able to do her usual panto x

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    • Thank you! I’m so glad we’ve found something to fill the void. Rehearsals start next week, so she’s excited! X

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  3. Ahh that’s great to hear, I’m really glad she’s got something to do instead of her usual panto. I thought it was outrageous how she was treated by the other one and it would definitely stop me from going to it even though we’re local and I’d always thought we’d go one year. We won’t now!

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    • Thanks for your support on that! My campaign to get the usual theatre to change their minds for next year starts soon! I’m so glad we’ve found her an alternative for this year though. X

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  4. Well done to your daughter for going for it with the auditions, especially with the singing. So glad that she has a part as a dancer and will be doing a panto this year – I know how disappointing it was to not be able to do the professional one again. Wishing her all the best with rehearsals and I shall look forward to hearing about how she gets on 🙂

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    • Thanks very much. It’s such a relief that we’ve found something for her. She can’t wait for rehearsals to start now!

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  5. Glad she got a part and is going to be doing the dancing side. Some of the amateur pantos are as good as professional ones anyway, so I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.

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  6. Oh wow that sounds really amazing, I’m so pleased that she is doing this. I know it isn’t quite the same as the panto last year but it sounds like she has a great part and I hope she really enjoys it.

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    • Thanks very much. She had her first rehearsal yesterday and cane out very happy! Apparently everyone is very nice and the dancing is pretty challenging. She’s dancing to one of the songs from a previous panto, so that’s a bit strange for her.

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  7. I am so glad that she has something positive to work on after the upset of the regular panto. Looking forward to hearing more about how it goes.

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    • Thanks very much! I’m sure there will be a couple more posts about it! She’s started rehearsals now, but it feels very different as she’s only rehearsing once a week. Her usual panto was such an intense experience and that was part of what made it so special.

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