Friday, December 24, 2010

Making Christmas Hoff-tastic

Growing up in Australia, I was quite a fan of Neighbours, though I have to admit that my viewing ceased pretty much around the time that Scott & Charlene headed up to Brisbane. I did tune in when Harold got washed off the rocks at the beach, but I never saw how they found him - all I know is that he waded out of the ocean eventually. Weird.

My point is that when I was younger, I recall that Neighbours stars used to go missing all the time and usually around this time of year. As it happened, they would turn up to tread the boards (as they say in the industry), in the London pantomimes.

At the time I didn't know what pantomimes were, but owing to the "mime" part of the word, I guess I figured they were high-brow, but silent pieces of performance art. Then again I used to think that oral sex was talking about it, so full marks for naivety over here.

Where was I? Oh yes, pantomimes.

Last night I went along with Gus the Wonder Dog's parents to Wimbledon, to see my first ever pantomime. The girls had seen Pamela Anderson as the genie in last year's "Aladdin" panto, so they were really looking forward to this year's season.

We saw "Peter Pan" and I can now tell you for sure that a pantomime is the total and unadulterated opposite of what I thought it was. A pantomime is not silent - it is boisterous, raucous and totally entertaining. It is not high-brow either, rather it is engaging, familiar, and for absolutely all ages.

No Neighbours stars made a cameo in the production I saw but hey, when you've got David Hasselhoff hamming it up as Captain Hook, who needs Ramsay Street?!

Our Peter Pan Pantomime (try saying that three times fast) was also a great celebration of campy music and lots of audience interaction. I loved it when we all started boo-ing the Hoff as he hatched his nasty plan to trap the Lost Boys and to kill Peter Pan. Then as Hoff's pirates were sneaking up on the unsuspecting Peter Pan, we all screamed out "They're behiiiiind yooooooou!" - it was so funny, we all got into it. As the Supremes-style trio of singers belted out some great hits, and Hoff's pirates perfected their cruise ship dance routines, we all likewise grooved in our seats - it was a truly great show.

I think what I also liked about the panto is that everybody behaved themselves. Well, everyone except some drunken woman who was lectured by security during intermission for booing the Hoff too consistently. She maintained she was just being enthusiastic. Security dude suggested she'd crossed the line. Awkward.

Another thing I really liked about the panto is that it had nothing to do with Christmas. Sure there were carols playing as we were leaving the theatre, but the show wasn't dripping in yuletide sweetness. In fact, you could stage that panto at any time of year and it would STILL be a hit. I would certainly see another one, no problems at all. As it happens, when the Hoff hangs up his hook soon, his role will be taken over by Jerry Springer. I don't even need to tell you how awesome that would be, right?

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