Panto in a Pandemic


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What gets you in the Christmas spirit? Is it a bit of Buble? A choir singing during late night shopping? Or is it shouting “it’s behind you” to a pantomime dame?

Panto is a Christmas tradition like no other: it’s camp, it’s funny, and above all: it’s festive af. And, despite Covid threatening to put a stop to the panto this year, the Gaiety have been able to assure that the show will go on.

There are, however, a few changes to the plans. With the pantomime company having to work completely remotely, the show has had to move from Snow White, to the less-technically challenging but equally brilliant Sleeping Beauty (though, as Emma Callin, head of the Villa Gaiety tells me, Snow White will be making a comeback to the island- hopefully in 2021). 

The show will be directed remotely. While this sounds like a daunting and difficult task, Shone Production Limited are the right people to do it, having remotely managed shows before- albeit not to this extent. With everyone having suffered a zoom quiz this year, the technology is not foreign to the team.

The Gaiety will also be holding a relaxed performance, something that the Gaiety introduced last year. Relaxed performances are less formal performances, where house lights aren’t all the way down, and it’s fully expected for audience members to make noise or move about. If the lights or noise gets a bit too much, there’s also a quiet area. Audience members can come and go as they wish. While these performances are specifically adapted for individuals with disabilities and sensory issues, they are also great for anyone who would benefit from such an environment. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, there will not be a person coming over to sign the show in British sign language. 

So what can we expect from the panto performance? Well, with pantomime dames not being classed as key-workers, the show will be a thoroughly Manx-affair. With a lot of Manx actors, who have trained and worked off-island, having found themselves back during the pandemic, the show will be jam-packed with local talent. It’s not just actors that make up the performance, either: the front of house staff and technical crew are now comprised of an all on-island crew. As ever, the Manx element will be evident in the content of the show: think fewer Brexit jokes, and more HQ banter. 

Sleeping Beauty will run from the 19th-30th December. A relaxed performance will be held on Monday 28th December at 2pm. You can book tickets here.