It’s an old theatre tradition, a night of comedy, a night of magical moments, a night of fun, laughter and an old Dame, it’s Panto of course. And it’s something the Grand Opera House in Belfast do particularly well.
The date was set 12/12/12 and Cinderella was the Panto, and what a night!
It’s definitely exciting being allowed backstage, and to be given a tour by the Director pre show was a treat. From meeting Gerry in the Orchestra Pit where he has worked for 34 years, to meeting the Dame herself May McFettridge moments before going on stage it was all a bit of a whirlwind pre show peek behind the scenes.
And then the magic began!
May flew on stage and the audience laughter kicked off as I stood there, right at the edge of stage right, with calmness all around, hardly believing that it had all begun. Buttons stood in front of me ready for his entrance and the Ugly Sisters appeared from their changing area behind me looking like they were ready for Mardi Gras. Colourful, plastered with makeup and a whole lot funny!
Once they went on stage, the Director, John, took me in to their dressing room, right at the old stage door. It looked like chaos but actually it was all carefully planned and very regimented, as the outfits were placed on the floor ready for the sisters to step in to, for those all important very fast costume changes.
We then headed over to stage left where I pretty much stayed for the rest of the performance as cast and crew ran about backstage with endless quickfire costume changes as I stood there and watched the show unfold.
At one point I was talking to Cinderella then she just ran away mid conversation, and the next second she was on stage, fully composed and professional.
I was very aware that in the whole backstage area everything had its place, the cast had their changing points, the crew where ready and waiting to move sets about and everything was being monitored to make sure it was going to plan and the props for the next scene where prepared. So I kept as low profile as I could, but I did get the dancers coming over wanting their photos taken.
I did also get to witness some backstage secrets and some of the ‘magic’, but they will forever remain a secret, and when I get to see the show in the new year, my backstage knowledge will make my experience even more interesting.
Backstage I expected chaotic scenes but boy was I wrong, everything was calm, organised and perfectly executed.
Standing so close to the audience I could hear all their laughter and at times those of us standing backstage were watching and laughing along with the audience as Basil and May kept us all entertained.
Oh and the poor guy from the audience who was brought up on stage and got to be at the receiving end of the hilarious Dame. I could see what ‘magic’ was happening during this segment, which made it even funnier for me.
Just brilliant! We all love a bit of ‘He’s behind you’ and some ‘oh no he isn’t, oh yes he is’, it’s part of the Christmas tradition really and it’s a bit of childish fun I would recommend everyone gets to see.
Long live Panto!
Cinderella, the greatest pantomime of them all, is playing in the Opera House until January 26th. There are still some tickets left after Christmas so why not contact the box office on 028 9024 1919 and experience a wonderful and fun night out for adults and children.