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Dates for the Diary December 2014

December... Definitely the season to be merry thanks to British Pantomime

Whatever your religious beliefs, whatever your age, everyone can enjoy the fabulous pantomimes that are taking place across the UK this month.

What a unique British tradition this is with gender crossing actors and the audience yelling...behind you! In recent years pantomimes have travelled to other countries, but there is still nowhere else in the world where these entertainments, with their songs, slapstick comedy and humour, are more popular.

The word pantomime comes from Greek; in Ancient Greece groups who could mime accompanied by a sung narrative and instrumental music were a popular entertainment. Later it developed into classical theatre, with the Italian Commedia Dell’arte giving it a new emphasis in the 16th century. Here in the middle ages in the UK, the Mummers Play, often featuring stage fights, humour and fantastic creatures, also helped the development of pantomime as we know it.

Today traditional pantomimes are based on old folk and fairy tales and are produced to appeal to young audiences as well as to their parents and grandparents. Getting three generations laughing together requires special talent and theatrical troupes across the UK have now perfected this art. December is the time of the British pantomime and even without grandchildren to take along, adults can have a wonderful fun afternoon or evening that will help to lighten up these dark gloomy days of mid winter.

Especially interesting for our age group is the number of top stars that now take part in pantomimes; look out for East Ender’s Samantha Womack in Sheffield; Priscilla Presley as the Wicked Queen in Manchester and Jerry Hall at Richmond.

This year there seems to be more pantomimes on than ever before. Where ever you live, you will be able to find one within reach. There should be information about your local pantos readily available on the internet but here are just a few to get you going....

Aldershot Princes Hall Snow White, between December 11 and January 4

Birmingham Hippodrome Jack and the Beanstalk
, from December 19 to February 1

Bristol Hippodrome Dick Whittington, from December 6 to January 4

Camberley Theatre Beauty and the Beast, December 8 to January 4

Cambridge Arts Theatre Aladdin, December 4 to January 11

Canterbury Marlowe Theatre Aladdin, from November 28 to January 11

Cardiff New Theatre Cinderella, from December 13 to January 18

Edinburgh Kings Theatre Aladdin, November 29 to January 18

Glasgow Kings Theatre Peter Pan, December 6 to January 11

Hackney Empire Mother Goose, November 22 to January 4

Hastings Aladdin at the White Rock Theatre, December 12 to 28

Leeds Carriageworks Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, December 5 toJanuary 10

Llandudno Venue Cymru Cinderella, December 13 to January 4

Liverpool Empire Aladdin, December 13 to January 4

Manchester Opera House Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, December 5 to January 4

Musselburgh Brunton Theatre Jack and the Beanstalk, November 25 to January 3

Norwich Theatre Royal Peter Pan, from December 18 to January 18, 2014

Nottingham Theatre Royal Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, December 6 to January 11

Oxford Playhouse Beauty and the Beast, December 5 to January 18

Richmond Theatre Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, December 5 to January 11.

Sheffield Lyceum Dick Whittington, December 5 to January 4

Swansea Grand Theatre Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, December 12 to January 11

Winchester Theatre Royal Sleeping Beauty, December 9 to January 4

Woking New VictoriaTheatre Aladdin, December 6 to January 10.

York Theatre Royal Old Mother Goose, December 11 to January 31

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