A pantomime is one of the most cherished and traditional forms of theatre. It can be a little daunting if it’s your first time producing a panto, as there are many elements to consider. Therefore, we have put together some essential pantomime tips to ensure you direct the perfect panto!
Selecting the Script
There are numerous elements to consider when choosing the right script. Most scripts are adaptable and therefore suit a range of budgets, although it is still important to deliberate whether you can accommodate the costumes and scenery required. The number of roles and the female to male ratio is another crucial element to think about. With that said, the pantomime community often encourage gender-swapping amongst characters to add a fun and creative touch to your show.
It is common to choose the pantomime dame and comic first, ensuring the actors have natural confidence and can effectively improvise. These characters will likely work together during the show; therefore, one of our top pantomime tips is to choose two individuals who connect and bounce off one another’s comedy and energy. Next, it’s time to cast the leading female and male actors, as well as the villain and hero.
The villain must be able to provoke the spectators without frightening the younger audience members, whilst the hero should make the viewers feel safe and facilitate the happy-ever-after ending. These core roles are often supported by other characters such as royalty, animals and comedy duos.
Rehearsals are usually the most important yet most difficult part of the production. First, discuss the venue, times and cast members with your choreographer and music director to ensure they have enough time to organise their contributions to the panto.
It’s essential to make your schedule flexible to account for any inevitable hiccups along the way, such as cast absences and scheduling conflicts. Afterwards, settle on a rehearsal venue large enough to hold the entire cast so rehearsals can mirror the real show as much as possible.
Costumes are an essential part of any pantomime; they allow the audience to understand each character and bring the magic of theatre to life.
There should be no reservations when considering costumes, especially when it comes to the dame; the audience will be expecting extravagant wigs, frilly skirts and pops of colour.
These elaborate costumes must also be flexible to facilitate quick back-stage changes between scenes. To turn your dream costume into a reality, we recommend consulting a professional costume maker. An effective costume not only creates a memorable experience but also prompts an emotional connection with the characters and helps your panto appear unique!
Another of our top pantomime tips is to think outside the box during set design.
Modern pantomimes consider Papier Mache a thing of the past; they now use 3D sequences of projection designs to really bring a set to life. However, if that’s not within your means, wooden constructions and painted backcloths are still a great way to create beautiful scenery for your panto.
During the set design, it is also important to consider any special effects. If you need to create any spectacular events during the show, we recommend discussing your ideas with a magic consultant or technician to ensure everything goes to plan.
Once all other elements are finalised, it’s time to attract an audience.
One of our key pantomime tips for amateur productions is to utilise any links your cast members may have by inviting everyone’s family and friends, neighbours and work colleagues. In addition, spread leaflets and eye-catching posters around the local area and advertise the event on social media.
We also recommend setting up a Facebook event; that way, cast members can easily invite their friends and family, and audience members will receive automated reminders leading up to the show.
Panto Tips Conclusion
If you are putting on your first pantomime, prepare yourself for the energising and exciting process that is pantomime production! It can be challenging, but if you have the right attitude and follow our simple pantomime tips, your production is sure to be a huge hit!