A survey of a selection of UK adults put the story about the princess at the top with 42 per cent of the public vote, followed by Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin.
Snow White and Dick Whittington rounded out the list of the nation’s top five perfect pantomimes. The study also found three in 10 expect to go to more festive theatre shows this year than last – after 43 per cent had to miss out due to lockdown restrictions.
Furthermore, eight in 10 feel pantos bring families together during the holidays, and 54 per cent have taken their own kids to a show they enjoyed when they were children. Inspired by the idea of bringing people together, hotel chain Premier Inn, which commissioned the research, has created a tool to help up to four families or friendship groups find festive events located mid-way between their homes.
It aims to help loved ones ‘meet inn the middle’ and features seasonal favourites like pantos, ice skating, Christmas markets and shopping centres – in addition to Premier Inn locations.
“Christmas time is a wonderful time of the year but it can involve travelling more miles than the Pied Piper. So, if you don’t want to be a villain this year, give our tool try – this way no one needs to travel further than anyone else. Whether it’s a classic panto or other festive activity they want to enjoy with one another, we hope our tool will enable more people to celebrate together this year.” – A spokesperson for the hotel brand
The English sense of humour was deemed the best part of any pantomime performance, picked by 39 per cent of adults. Shouting ‘He’s behind you!’ to the hero was next on the list (36 per cent), followed by lustily booing the baddies (35 per cent).
Other elements Brits love from the panto experience include simply seeing how much kids love them (34 per cent), singing along to songs (28 per cent) and the costumes (27 per cent). One in three (33 per cent) also love the saucy jokes written into the script for adults to enjoy – that kids won’t necessarily understand.
However, for many, watching is as far as they’ll go – 61 per cent describe being picked out of the audience to participate in the show as their ‘worst nightmare’. But 22 per cent have appeared in a performance in the past – with 14 per cent of these being asked as a last-minute emergency. Although 65 per cent believe their response would be a firm no if someone asked them to do the same today, according to the study commissioned via OnePoll.
Actress and former panto dame, Hayley Sheridan, 37, based in London and Italy said:
“Panto is a unique British tradition. I’ve been going to panto since I was a child, it’s as integral to Christmas as carol singers and turkey. They only come once a year but I can’t imagine a Christmas without them. Pantos bring out the kid in all of us so it’s a great way for families to share an experience.
“It’s the time when adults and kids suspend reality for a couple of hours and become part of the story, singing, cheering, booing – it’s just pure fun for everyone involved from the performers to the audience and even the crew. Performing for families but especially kids at this time of year is a magical experience because everyone is in the festive spirit.
Earlier this year Andrew Lloyd Webber launched a brand new musical version of Cinderella which took to the stage at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in August. Carrie Hope Fletcher led the new production as title character Cinderella, with Ivano Turco as Prince Sebastian and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt playing The Stepmother. Rebecca Trehearn played The Queen, Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin, as Cinderella’s stepsisters Marie and Adele, Gloria Onitiri played The Godmother and Caleb Roberts was Prince Charming.
Music and lyrics were written by Andrew Lloyd Webber while the script was written by Emerald Fennell and lyrics from David Zippel.
BRITS TOP 10 FAVOURITE PANTOMIMES
2. Jack and the Beanstalk
4. Snow White
5. Dick Whittington
6. Sleeping Beauty
7. Peter Pan
8. Beauty and the Beast
9. The Wizard of Oz
10. Puss in Boots
“It is so much about the audience participation, it’s what makes the show complete, there’s nothing else like it, it’s a real feel-good experience for everyone.” – Hayley Sheridan