Anyone wondering what a panto is? Pantos and fairy tales have a long, long history in the theatre. Here's the explanation from the company's website:
WHAT IS A ‘PANTO’? All our shows are written and performed in the genre of ‘PANTO’. Very simply, a panto is family musical theatre that is affordable! The scripts are based on fairytales we all know and love. We like to say that the jokes are written for the adults but the magic is saved for the kids. The 4th wall is broken. We encourage the audience to interact with our actors, ‘Boo the step sisters and cheer for our Prince!’. Comedy is current, sourcing recent news stories and songs are from pop culture that fit in the show, moving the storyline along. It’s a fun treat that brings the whole family together and it only happens once a year, Christmas time.
‘Panto’ is derived from the popular British ‘pantomime’ and serves as many children’s first experience of live theatre.
Here's the official press release. It's too long to block quote so everything below is the release:
Lythgoe Family Productions Announces Two Traditional British Pantos: “A Snow White Christmas” Starring Neil Patrick Harris and Marina Sirtis and “Cinderella Christmas” Starring Fred Willard and Shoshana Bean
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lythgoe Family Productions and Magic Pictures International announce the 2011 holiday season of traditional British family Panto – the premiere of “A Snow White Christmas,” and the second run of “A Cinderella Christmas.”
Neil Patrick Harris has signed on to star in the onscreen special guest role of "The Magic Mirror" in “Snow White,” following in the tradition of several major stars that have played the role on the London stage; and Marina Sirtis, of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, will star opposite as The Wicked Queen. The production will be helmed by Bonnie Lythgoe from So You Think You Can Dance AU and choreographed by Dancing With the Stars’ Mark Ballas with American Idol’s Michael Orland serving as Musical Director. An updated version of the classic tale, “Snow White” features family-friendly magic, a comedic twist and modern music, including Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, The Village People’s YMCA, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Tickets will be on sale August 9 for “A Snow White Christmas,” running November 30-December 18 at the El Portal Theatre.
“A Cinderella Christmas,” now in its second season following last year’s successful run, will run from December 22 to January 8 at The Scherr Forum Theatre in Thousand Oaks, starring Emmy-nominated comedic actor Fred Willard as Cinderella’s father, Baron HardUp; recording artist and Broadway sensation Shoshana Bean as the fairy godmother, and American Idol's David Hernandez as Dandini.
Both shows will be presented in the style of the traditional British family Panto, a modern musical play based on fairytale stories. A Panto is known for bringing together families with its interactive style and humor that appeals to fairytale fans of all ages.
“Last year’s production of Cinderella exceeded our expectations, and we’re thrilled to continue to bring the family fun of the traditional British Panto to LA audiences with our new production of Snow White,” says Jason Haigh-Ellery, President of Magic Theatre. “Both shows promise to be fun family productions - the perfect holiday present.”
Magic Pictures will hold open auditions for the roles of the “7 Dwarfs” on September 30 and October 1 at Westfield Culver City, where last year a panel of celebrity judges including Mark Ballas, Neil Patrick Harris, Kara Dioguardi, and Mary Murphy, picked the star of “Cinderella” from over 700 performers. A celebrity panel will again be on hand to help choose the standout child actors to star in the seven roles. Leading up to the auditions, Snow White memorabilia will be displayed at the Center, and kids will have the chance to meet Snow White.
Parenting magazine will present the “Snow White Christmas” grand opening celebrity fundraiser Gala on November 29, including a VIP reception, and meet-and-greet with cast members. All proceeds will benefit LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program. As part of Magic Pictures’ continued community outreach Madame Tussauds, Westfield Culver City, and Bank of America will be donating buses to local schools so that as many kids as possible will have the opportunity to see the shows this holiday season.
For more information and for tickets for the run of shows, please visit www.mpient.com and “like” Lythgoe Family Productions on Facebook.
About Magic Pictures International (MPI)
MPI creates and produces international television formats including "Corkscrewed" and "Who Are You" for Fox, and "Football Superstars" for Fox Sports, recording television sales in over 40 territories. MPI produces theatre in the UK including West End hits “Footloose” and “The Wedding Singer.” Magic Pictures is headed by Kristopher Lythgoe, Becky Baeling and Jason Haigh-Ellery.
About Lythgoe Family Productions
Lythgoe Family Productions produces fun musical theatre the whole family can enjoy. Known for their creativity and involvement in television hits “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” the Lythgoes are dedicated to bringing affordable theatre to families across America. Based on the GRIMM Fairytales, each story has been modernized with topical scripts for parents and well known pop songs for kids. The Lythgoes pride themselves on creating a memorable experience a family can share together.
“Snow White Christmas” Opens November 30 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood and “Cinderella Christmas” Opens December 22nd at The Scherr Forum Theatre in Thousand Oaks