Everyone should see a pantomime at least once. The traditional British festive plays are full of audience-participation with calls of “It’s behind you” and “Oh! Yes it is – No it isn’t” – The audience have to sing and they get sweets thrown at them. These are popular fairy tales rewritten, from Aladdin to Jack & The Beanstalk, full of adult innuendos that go right over kids heads. There is a fair bit of cross-dressing – The Dame, who is usually the mother of the hero, is played by an older male and the Principal Boy is always played by a younger leggy woman in tights.
School productions invite the parents. They have jokes about teachers and it is a teacher usually plays the Dame, such as Widow Twanky who squirts water over everyone in a washing scene. It will also show off talented pupils dancing, singing or playing an instrument.
The ones in pubs are usually political and raucous – usually a charity fund-raiser. Village hall ‘pantos’ deal with local issues and are usually the funniest.
In cities it is harder to create humour that everyone gets, so they tend to be more like musicals which feature celebrities and have bigger budgets for the sets.