You shall go to the Panto! 15% Brits say Cinderella is their favourite; 8% say Aladdin; Snow White
Oh yes it is…pantomime season is upon us and our recent poll on the subject found that over one in ten Brits choose the classic fairy-tale of Cinderella as their favourite pantomime.
Other fairy-tale classics and magical spectaculars of Aladdin and Snow White come in joint second place, followed by Jack and the Beanstalk and Peter Pan next in the list respectively. The results come as it’s that time of year; Christmas pantomimes. The cheesy but fun-filled extravaganza of ‘panto’ is traditionally seen as one of the biggest British festive family treats for old and young alike.
- Shine your glass slippers and get ready to have a ball; 15% of Brits say classic fairytale Cinderella is their favourite pantomime
- Followed by tales of Arabian Nights in Aladdin and Snow White and her seven dwarfs, which come in joint second place with 8% apiece
- 7% went for giant favourite Jack and the Beanstalk to make it the third most-chosen choice
- 6% say the adventure of the boy who couldn’t grow up is their favourite, picking Peter Pan
- While Dick Whittington, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood and Sleeping Beauty all come in second to last place on our list, with 3% apiece
- And Mother Goose was least favourite of all on 0%
- However, 14% say they don’t know, while nearly three in ten people (29%) say that they do not like any pantomimes and chose ‘none’ of those in the list
- More women (23%) than men (7%) choose rages to riches heroine, Cinderella, as their favourite panto, while marginally more men prefer Robin Hood (6% men compared to 1% women)
- Over twice as many older people aged 60 and above (22%) than those aged 18 to 24 (7%) pick Cinderella, while the younger group prefers Aladdin (12% of 18-24s picked this compared to 7% of the over 60s)
Look behind you!
Traditionally cheesy, shiny, sparkly, and groaningly innuendo-laden, pantomimes often feature what one might politely call less-than-A-list celebrities, usually in well-known stock roles that are likely to include princesses, wicked witches, the handsome prince, and always a cross-dressing ‘dame’ in a matriarchal, comical role. Although often intended for children, the audience participation element of panto means that everyone can get involved (whether they want to, however, is another matter).
Despite such initially dubious credentials, by all accounts, Christmas pantomimes are still extremely popular, with celebrities taking part in professional versions up and down the country, and communities often putting on their own adaptations for the comical reception of the local population.
Little Glass slipper
The first-ever pantomime version of Cinderella opened at Convent Garden in 1820 and was entitled the ‘Little Glass Slipper’ as a reference to the magical footwear the heroine accidentally leaves behind as she runs out on her handsome prince – which he then uses to find her.
The pantomime has seen some changes to its original line up over the years, however, and it wasn’t until 1860 that the character of the trusty servant, Buttons, first appeared, nicknamed after page boys who were allegedly often so-called due to the buttons sewn on their uniforms. In the same year, a production at the Strand Theatre introduced the characters of the Ugly Sisters.
Meanwhile, more recent trends have seen Cinderella’s ‘Prince Charming’ played by women. A trademark panto trait seen in many shows, another example of cross-gender casting is that of the title role of Peter Pan, which is famously often played by a woman. The ‘panto dame’, on the other hand, is usually played by a man.
This year's 'Cinderella'
A wide selection of festive pantomime shows is taking place in many of the nation’s theatres this Christmas, including Jack and the Beanstalk ‒ starring two Nolan sisters in one version and the voice of Brian Blessed in another. Dame Edna Everage will star in her very first panto, and comedian Jenny Éclair will play the fairy godmother in a version of – what else? ‒ Cinderella. (Gavin and Stacey actress Joanna Page played the title role in a Woking run of the same panto last year - see picture).
Meanwhile, a musical makeover of the nation’s favourite panto, starring Sophia Ragavelas as Cinderella and transforming the Ugly sisters into a double act named Queenie and Vic, is taking centre stage at the Hackney Empire in east London.
Directed by Susie McKenna, the show has received positive reviews, with critics lauding the leads as ‘likeable’, and Time Out calling it ‘a feel-good family show that sparkles with talent’.