An alternative view of the panto

The Panto goes from strength to strength and each year it seems to be bigger and better than ever. But can this go too far?

Helen P has her own views on this, and on the Christmas Eve church service, which she has sent through to Bishopthorpe.net :-

My Visit to the Pantomime and the Christmas Eve Church Service

As a Grandparent, I moved from a village very similar to Bishopthorpe to be closer to my family. I have lived here for many years and enjoy the facilities on offer such as the annual Christmas Pantomime and the Christmas Eve Church Service.

However this year I have had to reflect on these two Bishopthorpe traditions. The Pantomime would not be out of place in the Theatre Royal or the West End. I sat during the performance and wondered if all the lighting and technical equipment was really needed. Has this great tradition lost its village charm and appeal? Does this annual event need steering back to becoming just a village Pantomime once again, rather than a fully professional, polished production? I am sure that this would cost much less and have the same, if not more appeal.

St Andrew’s usually provides a wonderful Christmas Eve service. Sadly this year my family and I stayed for no longer than ten minutes. The church was overcrowded with standing room only. What used to be a lovely start to Christmas has become an unpleasant experience. Perhaps two services on Christmas Eve is the answer? Certainly there needs to be something in place to ensure that this annual service is once again available to all.

H. P.

Bishopthorpe, York

So what do you think? Lots of people love the panto and the expectation that each year will outdo the last – but is there a case for scaling back a bit? And what about the church service? Are these really problems that need to be addressed?

Let us know how you feel!

4 Comments

Romy | January 19, 2013 5:06 PM

I was really sad that I wasn’t able to attend the Christingle this year but it’s lovely to know that the church was packed 🙂

Bunny E Smith | January 15, 2013 9:29 PM

Darlings! Producers, men, women and children, fellow thespians, may I wish you a good day. I cannot say how depressed I felt when I saw this initial missive. As my good friend Joni once said and to paraphrase, you don’t know what you have got until it has gone…etc. Well, let me tell you, for the last five years plus, I have had to undergo what advertises itself as our village panto and I cannot begin to advise how truly dreadful it is. (Not a local village to yours but in the same region) All I can advise (for fear of being banned myself from the production) is to state that we have one costume for the annual performance. The co-writer is producer, director and star! He also likes to play the front end of the pantomime horse! (Our one and only prop.) No I say, move on, upwards and onwards. Break a leg and all that. Good luck to you all. And as for the Church service, just be thankful you still have a church. The one in our village has been taken over by the money lenders. Love to you all, Bunny x

Liam Godfrey | January 5, 2013 2:13 PM

Like many others I have been a member of the Ebor Players for a number of years and have been involved in previous Panto productions and so my comments may not be unbiased. I welcome the somewhat flattering comment by Helen that this year’s production ‘would not be out of place in the Theatre Royal or the West End’ because that is precisely what it hopes to be, as professional as possible.

I have always believed that whatever one does one should seek to do it to the best of their ability, and I know this is the view of all who are and have been involved in current and previous productions. Indeed the show could become less professional by say asking the scene designers to put a bit less work in, to ask the director to maybe schedule less rehearsal time or the choreographer to spend a little less time teaching the cast their dance routines. Equally when this work has been complete we could ask for it to be not lit as well or to not sound as good. All of this may produce a more ‘villagy’ show but it would be an insult to the professionalism of all who have worked to produce the very best show that they can and even more importantly would be an insult to the audience who have paid to see what they hope will be a good show.

Lisa Thornton | January 3, 2013 3:28 PM

How disappointing. Why shouldn’t our village be home to successful events where volunteers strive hard all year to bring their own particular talents to bear on traditional activities? Why shouldn’t we be proud of the fact that we enjoy coming together as a community to watch our children gain a special experience of Christmas? As a long standing member of the Ebor Players, and a regular attendee at the Christingle service I marvel each year at how many talented, hard working people we have in this village that are willing to learn new skills and teach others in order to provide these events. We shouldn’t be scaling back these activities, but celebrating their success. Standing in the aisle to watch the local nativity play with candles burning bright is one of the highlights of my year and something I hope my children will remember for ever. Turning the service into a ticket only event, or trying to perform twice is not really the point is it? Scaling back the quality of the Panto wouldn’t do justice to the volunteers who work hard to do something better every time – not just for the audience, but for their own personal satisfaction. The cost of the panto isn’t really the point either – it’s about doing something people are proud of and at a price that allows families to come to a show that is good value for money. If we don’t strive to be better, and if we can’t put up with a bit of discomfort to share special events with each other our community will be poorer – not in money, but in the spirit of togetherness that has always made this a special place to live.

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