After three years in the chorus of a professional panto, sadly my daughter was forced to look for an alternative this year, after the theatre decided they were going to work with specific dance schools rather than hold open auditions.
So my daughter is in an amateur panto this year. I don’t doubt that she will have an amazing time, but there are a lot of differences between the two.
First and foremost of course, one is amateur and the other is professional. Amateur actors are very good, but they’re not professionals.
Secondly, while the professional panto is on throughout December, the amateur panto isn’t actually on until January.
Rehearsals for the professional panto would normally start this week (those memories are going to make this week pretty tough for us), but rehearsals for the amateur panto started in September.
The professional panto is very intense, which is what makes it so special. For eight weeks, my daughter (and my whole family) eats, sleeps and breathes panto. She is at the theatre every day for nearly three weeks for rehearsals, then at least three days a week for performances, usually with two performances a day.
The amateur panto rehearses once a week for the first few weeks, increasing to twice a week in December. She will have a total of 21 rehearsals, compared to an average of 17 for the professional panto.
The professional panto is on for four or five weeks. The amateur panto is on for just four days and a total of five performances.
The professional panto has a small cast – just seven adult actors and a chorus of eight or nine kids. The amateur panto has a huge cast, consisting of the main cast, both a children’s and adults’ chorus and dancers.
I have no doubt that my daughter will enjoy her amateur panto experience, although it is very different and there are probably still more differences to come.
Currently, she is getting angry every time she sees an advert for her usual panto on the side of her bus and I totally feel her pain. There are certain people we will both need to avoid on social media when the professional panto opens.