Panto raid

City Theatre

3835 Freeport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95822

(916) 558-2228

Sacramento Theatre Company

1419 H St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 446-7501

We’ve got a number of holiday productions that include elements of the “panto” (short for pantomime) tradition. Now, this doesn’t mean the “mime” part of pantomime, in which one acts out scenes without speech—or just pretends to be stuck in an invisible box. Instead, the panto tradition includes a number of elements that upend the expected in a nod to the medieval carnival. The idea is to elevate the base, thereby lowering the highborn, but only temporarily; the intention is to relieve stress, not upset the status quo. And so we have panto traditions such as casting a woman to play a boy, breaking the fourth wall and using audience participation, having people portray animals (the two-men-in-a-horse-costume shtick is a bit of panto), parody songs, double-entendre. City Theatre’s full-on British panto, Peter Pan, opens November 20, and Sacramento Theatre Company’s version of Cinderella, which they’ll have for a holiday run, starts December 2. Yes, drag is an element of panto—and remember that next time you play Drag Queen Bingo.