Why do I love Panto Sooooo Much?

  • Tweet this
  • Share this

As Head of Wardrobe and Costume Designer for the LDS

Working on the costumes for the Pantomime is absolutely the favourite part of the job in the wardrobe department, It’s crazy crazy busy as we get closer and closer to the 1st tech/dress rehearsal, but the planning and practical work starts well in advance. In the summer, closed season time is spent planning the designs, the fabrics are sourced and the making begins. Any spare time in-between dealing with the requirements of the first 4 LDS shows prior to panto is utilised. As soon as play 4 is up and running it’s panto panto panto all the way! Creativity abounds and we all love working with the beautiful fabrics to produce something really special. This work will continue right up until opening night with items from our “wish list” being added where ever possible.

As Writer/Director of Panto

This year’s production of Aladdin is the 9th panto that I have devised for the LDS and my 3rd version of Aladdin which is my favourite panto subject.

I love the freedom to create my own personal take on each panto that I write. Always mindful and respectful of the traditions of panto which form a large part of the show, I am able to blend in modern twists and scenarios. I believe that a good panto should stay true to its orginal form whilst always enhancing the present day trends and fads.

As a performer

Performing in panto began for me over 30 years ago — my 1st part was playing Idle Jack in the Countesthorpe pantomime group’s production of Dick Whittington. This gave me the panto “bug” and I’ve never shaken it off since! After many years at Countesthorpe I got the chance to perform in panto at the Concordia theatre in Hinckley. Somebody had dropped out of their production of Humpty Dumpty and I was asked to take over the role at short notice. Well to me it was like being offered a part in the West End! This time it was the big time! I performed in 9 panto’s there and learnt such a lot about panto from people who really knew what the true meaning of panto was all about.

Since 2002 when I took over as head of wardrobe here at the Little Theatre when not directing the panto, I have been lucky enough to perform in a few of them.

So why have I performed in so many Panto’s?

Well there is nothing quite like it! It’s just a magic world of make-believe, an escapism from the real world. Every performance is different and the breaking down of the ‘fourth wall’, enabling the performers to literally shake hands with the audience is scary, but completely thrilling at the same time. The audience’s response is the great unknown! You must always be on your guard and ready to respond accordingly and hopefully appropriately!

The Panto Family

Over the years I have met and worked with some amazing people whilst being involved in panto, both here at the Little Theatre, over at the Concordia and back in the early days in Countesthorpe. Hopefully a happy panto family is formed each time a production is brought together and it is an essential ingredient to the success of the show and the enjoyment of the cast, crew and consequently the Audience too.

Whilst being part of these panto families, I have made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I met and married my wife Mary in the early years and although Mary hung up her fishnets years ago she has always been a great support to me in my panto endeavours. Support that this year extends to other members of our family, who for the 1st time will be performing in one of my panto’s here at the Little Theatre…Exciting times for the Bale family both inside and outside of Panto-land.

John Bale

Do you have your tickets? No need to rub a magic lamp — Aladdin tickets