Yesterday we went to a pantomime. For those outside the UK this may bring images of non-speaking actors with white faces but it's nothing like that. Pantomimes are a very British Christmas tradition - they are fairy tale plays with music, lots of silliness and audience participation. Nearly every town has one and the bigger pantos sometimes have famous people in the cast. The scripts are totally silly, the costumes incredibly over the top (especially for the men that are dressed like women: the panto dames) and the whole thing is harmless fun for everyone but kids especially seem to love it.
We went to see Cinderella at our local theater and while it is put together by amateurs, the evening was very entertaining and I even got a little emotional when the Fairy Godmother turned a pumpkin into a sparkly coach and turned Cinderella's rags to a poofy ball gown. It was very, very sweet. I think Samuel even enjoyed some of it!
Another British Christmas tradition is holiday TV. There have been lots and lots of specials and other kinds of shows on TV - not all good but an awful lot of the ones I've been watching seem to include music from the musicals and other theater-related themes. For some reason I've also been listening to a lot of music from the musicals lately... and all of this has inevitably reminded me of those days, long ago, when I practically lived in a theater.
During High School and College whenever I wasn't in a classroom or at home I could normally be found in the theater. I was never really very good for the performance side of it (although I did get a couple of small roles and even danced in some musicals) but I was very, very happy to work backstage. I loved it all: the teamwork, the preparation, the rehearsals, the long nights of tech rehearsals and of course the buzz of show nights. I think I did nearly every job available backstage - from props to makeup, costume, lights and audio - and every single show taught me something.
I tended to help out mainly in musicals and revues but I also worked in some "straight" theater shows. All of these shows definitely taught me a thing or two about talent, about hard work and about working to a deadline. I also made some of my dearest friends in the theater and whenever we get together we have the most amazing amount of silly stories to remember from those days.
I guess I miss it but of course I've moved on and the theater has now become yet another of those things that is in my past and feels like a part of another life I lived a long time ago. But when I was sitting in that audience waiting for the panto to start, I could remember the buzz I used to get minutes before the show would start, I would remember all those crises that we had seconds to fix and all those friendships that started among cordless mikes and sequined gowns.
I guess you can take the girl out of the theater...