Courtesy of Stéphanie Ollerton
When you think of an English Christmas, you may have visions of sugar plums, roasted chestnuts, Victorian singers, or maybe even Scrooge dancing in your head.
One tradition that you may not be thinking about or that you may not be fully aware of is panto. You are more likely to ask, “What is a panto?” “
A native of Provo, Stephanie Ollerton, a producer and director of film and television photography, hopes to educate area residents about this humorous art form this Christmas.
“I went to college in London and there I saw a panto,” said Ollerton. “I loved every minute. I had so much fun. When I came back to Utah I kept thinking, ‘Dude! Provo would love panto. Why don’t we have any? need to have a panto in Provo.
Panto, short for pantomime, is an English Christmas tradition that began in the 1700s. Each year, theaters across the UK present an interactive, family-friendly play.
Courtesy of Stéphanie Ollerton
“No, it’s not mimed,” Ollerton said. “Think of it as a cross between melodrama and vaudeville. The Pantos are traditional fairy tales with a punch. There is singing, dancing, jokes, over-the-top characters and lots of audience participation. In fact, the more the audience hoots, claps and shouts, the more fun the evening becomes. “
Ollerton said his goal is to establish panto as a Christmas tradition in Provo. “I’m starting small by planting the seed in the confidence that it will become an annual event that brings families and visitors to downtown Provo together.”
The Pantos operate on two levels. The interactive element keeps the kids involved, and the jokes keep the adults engaged, according to Ollerton.
This year’s panto is “Cinderella”.
“We were fortunate to have talented and experienced improv actors who are thrilled to be a part of this production,” said Ollerton. “An unexpected and happy surprise: almost everyone in the cast has red hair. It wasn’t planned, it just happened.
Courtesy of The Hive Collaborative
Ollerton said they are also cutting the show down to an early hour, so people have time to go out to dinner, take the kids out for some fun and come home for bedtime.
“We make ours a little differently from strictly traditional pantos. First of all, “family friendly” in England is different from what it is in Provo. There are a lot of innuendos in the English pantos and we won’t do it in ours, ”said Ollerton. “Second, pantos are usually scripted and have great costumes and sets. We do ours as a musical improvisation. It will not be scripted, our costumes are minimal and we use the existing set of the Hive. Like I said, we start small but we have a lot of heart.
The Hive Collaborative, 290 W. 600 South, is partnering with Ollerton to make this dream come true. She is grateful for their support.
“The Hive is an incredibly welcoming and intimate theater. The last show of The Hive has sold out – every night – so we encourage everyone to buy their tickets early, ”said Ollerton.
“Cinderella” will play at Hive from 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 13, Friday, December 17, and Saturday, December 18, with an additional morning on December 18 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets cost $ 10 each or four for $ 24. Tickets can be purchased online at thehive.ticketleap.com/panto/. For more information on the Hive, visit thehivecollaborative.com.