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Pantomime Auditions


Balletmad97
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This isn't ballet related but it's doing dance so... What do you think of pantomimes? We would like to do one after a recent interest in musical theatre but worried about getting time off school? What pantomimes do you do, etc? Any bad/good experiences?

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Dd did panto last year. She lived it but there was a lot of running around for us and it impacted on Xmas for the whole family. The other team did Xmas eve and she did boxing day for example

 

There was no prob with time off school. The kids are licensed and it's seen as educational.

 

That saying she won't be auditioning this year as its a different production company and friends had probs with their main star in the past. She is doing a musical in sept though and rehearsals for this clash with auditions for the other localism pantos.

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My dd did pantomime for the first time this/last year. She loved every minute of it and was quite sad when it was over. However, I really don't want her to audition again this year for two reasons: The first is that it is a massive committment over Christmas and new year (6 weeks in our case) that affects the whole family. The other main reason is that she missed an awful lot of ballet training, and all coming up to audition season. On the plus side, apart from the enjoyment she also got alot of performance experience. School was absolutely fine about the time she had to have off and she was very disciplined about doing her school work in between performances. I think she is going to feel quite torn when it's time to audition again, but we did agree that she could do it once. In my opinion, I don't think there would be much to gain from doing it again this year, although I know some girls who audition year upon year.

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Lots of dd's friends do panto - they have a great time and audition (and usually get in) year after year, but it does require quite a big commitment with rehearsals and performances at a time of year when we like to be chilling out with the family.

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My DS used to belong to a dance group who used to provide the Babes for a number of local theatres and he was lucky enough to be selected to be Michael in Peter Pan. He throughly enjoyed doing it (he even got paid) and even though he's now 18 he still remembers flying. We are also lucky to have a very supportive family in getting him there and back. The following year he did Cinderella with the Royal Ballet, that was hard work panto was much easier.

 

When he did panto you did 1 day on 1 day off, at another local school which did another theatre the babes did either the matinee or evening performaance so were there every day.

 

We had 6 years in the end of disrupted Christmasses but DS throughly enjoyed all he did.

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Youngest dd has done panto for last 7 years ( and various other local theatre and 1 west-end production). She is definately more musical theatre than ballet and abosolutely loved every minute of it. Our local panto is a HUGE commitment with two teams each doing 30 performances and like west-end productions the kids have to be available for the whole rehearsal and production period with no exceptions. On school days the performances are too close together timewise for one team to do both so they are doing one performance every day but at weekends/holidays they do two performances every other day. Some years school have just signed forms for time off with no problems but other times it has been touch and go. I think it hinges on how they record the absence and if it will then affect their attendance figures. Our school will only record it is 'authorised absence' but i know other schools who say it is 'education off site'.

 

As well as panto have you looked into local amateur dramatic societies/operatic societies as many of these groups put on high-quality productions and often need no time off school.

 

DD will be in year 11 in sept and too old to audition this year - she says it is going to be a very strange christmas without panto

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DD did 2 years in panto and loved it. There were 2 teams and they took it in turns to do matinee or eve so it was a show each day (not Suns) DD was in y6 and y7 when she did them. It did involve a big commitment but we all enjoyed it really. She made great friends and would have happily auditioned again. We couldn't manage to spare all the taxi time last xmas because I had a different job so DD couldn't do it. We took her on her birthday to see it and she had a brilliant time seeing her friends on stage (although she did wish she was up there!)

 

It is a fantastic experience. There was a great team and both times involved a ballet scene with lovely tutus plus lots of other dancing and singing/acting. DD met several graduates of dance/MT colleges who were in the cast and this gave her more of an idea about the career side of it.The juniors also had to write and perform their own panto for the cast and families to watch in the final week. These were great fun.

 

DDs primary head was great and the whole school came to watch but once she got to grammar I would say they were less happy about the time off. However we had moved so it meant an hour's drive from school to the theatre and they had to be there an hour before the show so it was quite a lot of time off. Saying that it made no difference to how she got on at school work wise. It certainly teaches a lot about stage craft and having a professional attitude. A great experience and I would say go for it. DDs panto was open auditions and several of the same children came back and got in year after year but I know some theatres just use a local school/s for the junior chorus.

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My DD has done 5 pantos and 4 of them were the best experience she has ever had.

 

She has made countless friends, performance experience, experience of working in a theatre and rehearsing as part of a company.

Yes it did muck up christmas but this was a small price to pay to escape some excruciating Xmases with the in-laws! They were well treated but not paid. The main juvenile co-ordinator was organised and ensured that the welfare of the children was paramount.

 

However the 5th panto was with a different panto provider and was a much larger glitzy production with a huge star.TBH the stage time they got on this production was not worth all the sacrifices. Yes they were paid but they were not treated as well. The juvenile co-ordinator was more interested in ingratiating herself with the stars than looking after the welfare of the kids. It was badly organised and the chaperones were reported to the local authority for their poor care by cast members of the panto company!

 

So I suppose my advice would be try and speak to parents of kids who have done it before at your particular venue. If their response is positive I would not hesitate to recommend it if you and your immediate family feel able to make the commitment. A small Xmas at home is actually really relaxing and you know so far in advance to enable you to make plans.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide.

 

 

 

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I agree with ballet taxi. It might be good to check out the past experience of those at your chosen venue. The pantos my DD did were at the same venue - a nice theatre in a medium sized town. It was a professional show but the juniors are not paid. They have excellent cast members but do not use a star. We had been going to watch pantos at this theatre since our DCs were small and liked them. I have seen one or two star type pantos and haven't always enjoyed them.

 

ballet taxi, gosh what a shame. You must have been really annoyed.

 

If it is good there is something quite magical and festive about being involved in panto and even with the hard work and daily commitment my DD never waned in her enthusiasm about doing it. As I mentioned she would do it every year if she could. Our panto has age 14 as the upper limit for auditioning but DD is now 5'8 so I am not sure she would look junior enough now. This is a difficulty with any MT auditions now for her - most have a height limit.

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I think the panto companies like the children to be smaller that the professionals, and some are quite short!

 

They usually also seem to use sets of 'stock' costumes as well, and need to find people the right size to fit in them without needing to make alterations.

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I was annoyed but luckily we had already decided prior to the panto that it would be her last due to GCSE'S etc

 

We have the opposite problem to you , my dd is tiny, 15 and not yet 5ft! going off topic slightly you say that MT auditions have a height limit, do you know if there is a min height as well?

 

My Dd was lucky to have 4 wonderful years, and despite the problems with the 5th it was a lesson to her in maintaining her "professionalism" in difficult circumstances....every cloud etc!

 

I would not let one bad experience put people off, hopefully the company involved learnt something too and things are better for the kids next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ballet taxi, I think you are probably more in luck with a smaller DD because they can play younger age but have the maturity. Junior roles sometimes have height limits such as 4'6 or 5' eg Matilda or any of the musical type shows. The panto DD did just needed matching pairs for the 2 teams so DD was matched with a girl of a similar height (she wasn't as tall then) and they shared costumes which were made for them. They chose a range of ages/heights, boys and girls. My DD is really worrying that if she gets any taller it will be the end of her chances at dance or MT college. Most people would be thrilled with such long slim legs (wish I had them...must be from DHs side!)

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btw I do mean the height limits are for the childrens parts! but I know there has been quite a bit of discussion on heights for ballet companies/schools. DD doesn't want a ballet career but she is trying to continue with dance and luckily is a naturally good tapper and picks up any dance routines quickly. I just think that with dance there will be probably be a height issue over and above a certain height. We will have to see...

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