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Pantomime as a theatre form goes back to ancient Greece and Rome.
Traditional English Pantomime was introduced in London in the 1870’s
and it continues to be a popular mode of Christmas family entertainment
attracting Shakespearean actors and film stars to the stage in familiar
Nearly all pantomimes are based on well known fairy stories which incorporate novel clowning, topical jokes, mild sexual innuendo, double entendre, song, dance, audience participation, and plenty of shouting from the crowd.
The leading male juvenile role, the “principal boy” is typically played by a young woman. The “dame”, and older women and often the hero’s mother is traditionally played by a man.
There is always a villain and a couple of hapless characters to add to the drama and confusion. Often a magic spirit character figures in the cast and sometimes an animal with human attributes. But in the end good triumphs over evil, and there is always a happy ending.