At least, it is if you work in the theatre, as Kate Evans, our new Marketing Publications Officer, is discovering.
“It’s behind you!” “Oh no it isn’t!” “Oh yes it is!” “Oh no it isn’t.” Oh no, it really isn’t, if the ‘it’ in question is pantomime, and you work in a theatre, as I have discovered since I joined The Marlowe in late May – missing the launch day for this year’s panto by just a few days.
There is never a time when panto is not somewhere on the agenda. Decisions about next year’s extravaganza are made before the current year’s production even opens, so it can be ready to go on sale the moment the first audiences step out of this year’s first show.
The reasons why we spend so much time on panto are partly, of course, practical – a panto run can make or break a theatre’s year. But also, panto is most people’s first experience of live theatre, and for many, their only trip to the theatre all year. So it’s got to be good.
All of our regular panto ‘family’ are very aware of how special the Marlowe’s annual panto is. Local boy (well, Margate) Lloyd Hollett, has vivid memories of his first panto experiences: : “I used to come here as a kid, my aunty and uncle used to bring me along, from when I was about 5 years old, every year, it was a big thing, coming to the Marlowe. I always remember the excitement you used to get when the lights went down. So to be here now, is brilliant, it’s a dream come true.”
Our dame, Ben Roddy, says: “We’re always trying to come up with new and exciting stuff for the panto, because we don’t want to ever rest on our laurels.”
It’s a feeling shared by Evolution Productions, our panto partners. Part of the family feeling about the Marlowe’s pantos may come down to the fact that Evolution is an actual family firm- headed up by husband-and-wife team, Paul Hendy and Emily Wood, who work with several other family members, all of whom eat, sleep and breathe panto, all year round (although they are otherwise quite normal).
As I write this, we’re already working on what will go into the show programme for this years show, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and putting the final touches to our advertising campaign. Rehearsals start in early November- by then a final decision what next year’s panto is going to be will have been made, and artwork for it will be being designed.
So when the dark days of January close in around you, and the sparkle of Christmas seems a long way away – just remember, panto is always with us, somewhere…