Penobscot Theatre Company is thrilled to be presenting Cinderella: The New Telling of an Old Tale, bringing the European tradition of “pantomime” to the area this holiday season!
Pantomime (informally, panto), not to be confused with the theatrical medium of mime, is a form of musical comedy stage production, designed for families. It was developed in the United Kingdom and mostly performed during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.
Some common elements of the panto are:
- The leading male juvenile character (the principal boy) is traditionally played by a young woman, usually in tight-fitting male garments (such as breeches) that make her female charms evident.
- An older woman (the pantomime dame – often the hero’s mother) is usually played by a man in drag.
- Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience and is for the entertainment of the adults.
- Audience participation, including calls of “He’s behind you!” (or “Look behind you!”), and “Oh, yes it is!” and “Oh, no it isn’t!” The audience is always encouraged to boo the villain and “awwwww” the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who is usually enamoured with the prince.
- Music may be original but is more likely to combine well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. At least one “audience participation” song is traditional: one half of the audience may be challenged to sing “their” chorus louder than the other half. Children in the audience may even be invited on stage to sing along with members of the cast.
- The animal, played by an actor in “animal skin” or animal costume. It is often a pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
- A slapstick comedy routine may be performed.
- In the 19th century, until the 1880s, pantomimes typically included a transformation scene in which a Fairy Queen magically transformed the pantomime characters.
The holiday panto Cinderella: A New Telling of an Old Tale delivers on every one of these traditions! Some of the area’s favorite actors will play the “drag” roles of the Baden-Rotten family, a dancing bear will make an appearance, and eight local students will perform in the production. We took a moment to ask them what they thought of this new twist on a familiar story………………………
What is your favorite part of rehearsals? “I like learning new things. Everyone that I have met at Penobscot Theatre have been amazing to me. I love working with them!” – Kate Fogg, .13, Holbrook Middle School
1 Cinderella is typically considered a “girl” story – why will the boys like this play? “Boys will like that this play is really funny.” – Zivi Osher, 12, Orono Middle School
W You have lots of performances during the holidays! What made you want to give up vacation time to do a play? “
“When I’m in the production during my school vacation, it never feels like a vacation. I still have to work hard, but I have so much fun doing it.” – Abigail Thompson, 13, Reeds Brook Middle School.
Will people your age enjoy this show? What about this version do you find interesting? “I think people my age will love the new twists on the classic story. The show is hilarious and fun, as well as magical and romantic. I think everyone will definitely leave the show laughing and smiling because it will be a really great time. Something that is very interesting about this version of Cinderella, is that the Prince and Cinderella are not perfect. They are still the same characters that we know and love, but they have a lot more to them then the classic story leads us to believe. There are also tons of new characters, not in the classic story, that they encounter during the show as well, along with my personal favorite Buttons, Cinderella’s only friend who helps to make her dreams come true!” – Stephani Colavito, 17, John Bapst High School
As part of the holiday season, PTC has also partnered with the Spectacular Events Center to create a Princess Lunch! Please call the PTC Box Office at 942-3333 to book tickets, or The Spectacular Events Center at 941-8700 for questions.
Tickets for the show are $15 for youth under 18 and $30 for adults. Cinderella: A New Telling of an Old Tale plays at the historic Bangor Opera House Wednesdays through Sundays from December 5-29th with a special 10am matinee on December 24th.
Cinderella tickets make excellent holiday gifts. View show times or purchase tickets, subscriptions and gift certificates online at www.penobscottheatre.org, or through the Box Office at 207-942-3333.
Make a Day of It! Spectacular Event Center will host “Princess and Prince Lunches” before each Sunday show. Call PTC Box Office for additional details and reservations.
Penobscot Theatre Company, America’s Northeastern-most professional, year-round theatre company
Cinderella: A New Telling of an Old Tale, a musical version of the classic story, perfect for the whole family
At the Historic Bangor Opera House in downtown Bangor, Maine
December 5 – 29; Wednesdays – Fridays 7pm; Saturdays at 5pm; Sundays at 3pm with a special 10am Matinee on December 24.
$15 youth tickets
$30 adult tickets
Call Penobscot Theatre Box Office at (207) 942-3333 or purchase tickets online at www.penobscottheatre.org