Brush up on your pantomime knowledge with our festive facts

15 November 2018

It’s nearly that magical time of year where our annual Pantomime arrives (OH NO IT DOESN’T). If you’ve ever wondered where the songs, dances and the delightful dames and scary villains come from, then check out our festive facts to find out all about Pantomime.

  • Pantomimes were first developed from Italian street theatre called Commedia dell’arte in the 16th century.
  • In Commedia dell’ arte, the good characters always entered from stage right and the evil villains from stage left. Originally the right of stage symbolised Heaven and the left side symbolised Hell.
  • Harlequinades were an early form or pantomime featuring an acrobatic Harlequin who generally introduced slapstick comedy into the stories of love, magic and chases.
  • By the Victorian era, pantomimes had become typical Christmas entertainment. Scripts featured Fairy Tales and stories of Robinson Crusoe, with topical humour.
  • Audiences are encouraged to participate such as ‘Boo’ the villain and generally join in.
  • The Father of modern pantomime is widely regarded to be Augustus Harris, who produced and co-wrote scripts for large-scale pantomimes at Drury Lane every Christmas from 1879 - 1895.
  • The first recorded pantomime performance of Dick Whittington was recorded in 1814 in Convent Garden.
  • Dick Whittington is based on the folklore around the real-life Richard Whittington who lived in the 15th Century.

More facts about the history of panto at Buxton Opera House with CTP Pantomimes

  • Philip Dart has been writing and directing pantomimes at Buxton Opera House since 1992.  During that time he has directed 6 Aladdin’s, 5 Cinderella’s, 5 Snow White’s, 4 Jack and the Beanstalk’s, 3 Dick Whittington’s, 1 Babes in the Wood, 1 Peter Pan and 1 Sleeping Beauty.
  • This is James Holmes’ 4th year playing Dame at Buxton Opera House. Before that he had never played a Dame in panto.
  • When costume designer and maker Joanna Deaville isn’t making the amazing costumes for the show, she’s looking after animals on her small farm outside Stoke on Trent.
  • Visitors travel all the way from Jersey, Scotland, Wales and the South West to see Buxton Opera House’s popular pantomime.

Listen to Discover Buxton interview this years star Gabrielle Green for their Buxton Calling podcast!

Dick Whittington is here 8-30 December. Tickets are priced at £19.50-£23. Discounts are available. To buy tickets contact Buxton Opera House Box Office, Tel: 01298 72190 or visit: