Happy Ever After will go down as one of the most memorable Christmas shows in Lighthouse history, but of course every panto since we opened in 1978 has been special to those involved and especially to those who have seen them. This week we welcome Vicki Uphill who has been able to enjoy a very special view of the magic of panto...
I am a teacher and I have been lucky enough to experience a number of pantomimes at Lighthouse with my school children over the years.
For some of the children it is their first theatre experience and one they talk about for years afterwards. A lot of learning also takes place around the pantomime; both before and after the experience of it. These include reading and performing traditional fairy tales, creating our own theatre role play in early years, writing engaging accounts of the pantomime and, last year, making a giant beanstalk out of junk! We have even baked, cooked or prepared some of the food seen in the pantomimes; including some interesting looking (and tasting) dishes as prepared last year in Jack and the Beanstalk (pictured).
The build-up to the pantomime is always a delight to see; from the coach journey there, to the excitement and awe on their little faces as we all enter the darkened theatre – it’s just magical! When the curtain goes up and we meet the characters, when we experience the light and sound effects, we are taken along the same journey as the children, feeling the buzz, the shock and the laughter with them.
Plus, the noise in the theatre; with all the school groups immersed in the pantomime is indescribable! I don’t think they can quite believe that they are allowed to shout as loud as they can, inside. They especially love it when a teacher is ‘asked’ to participate as part of the show - seeing Mr or Mrs Smith* being embarrassed is really funny and it is actually a good message that us teachers can get flustered and wish the ground would swallow us up on occasions!
My most memorable year was when I had just had my laser eye surgery and I had been told to keep my eyes away from water... when along came the baddy on stage with a water gun and squirts me straight in the eye! No damage done to my eye fortunately; I now just have a fear of water guns!
Thank you, Lighthouse, for your pantomimes, for the delicious ice cream during the intervals, and for helping to herd us all out at the end. We’ll miss you this year; but I’m sure we’ll enjoy the fun another year.
Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to you all.
*Not based on a real teacher...