The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

There's No Business Like Show Business


I’ve described my hate-hate relationship with pantomimes in the past, but I do have something of a fascination with the posters They have a strange alluring quality - a state of timelessness, as fashions wax and wane with the seasons, pantomime posters still look exactly as they did thirty years ago. If Keeley Hawes woke up after a road accident, and she saw a poster for Stu ‘Crush A Grape’ Francis in Mother Goose at the Theatre Royal, she’d have absolutely no idea which decade she was in.


The rules are simple. The title of the panto in swirly lettering, as close to the Disney font as you can manage. Around it, head-shots of the cast floating in vague order of recognisability. Ideally they’ll be depicted in costume, but half the time they’re just whatever 8 x 10 their agent had to hand. And any remaining space on the poster should be filled with stars and galaxies.


What’s fascinating is the way actors are billed. If you’re properly famous to be recognisable by face and name alone, it’ll just be your face and name; ‘John Barrowman’


If you’re not quite properly famous, your face and name will be preceded or followed by the TV show you were in; ‘’Hi-De-Hi’’s Su Pollard’.


If that’s still not enough for Joe Public to have the faintest clue who you are, your face and name will be accompanied with the name of the character you played in the TV show, or, if you’re a comedian, your catchphrase; ‘Chrissie’ from ‘Hollyoaks’ or ‘Duncan ‘Chase Me’ Norvelle’.


And if you’re a complete non-entity, they’ll just give the name of the character you play.


And then there’ll be something insanely inappropriate in the corner. ‘Featuring SOOTY’. ‘Featuring THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE and FRIENDS’. ‘Featuring CARTESIAN GEOMETRY.’

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