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The Firehouse Center for the Arts is a 195-seat intimate theater located on the waterfront of beautiful downtown historical Newburyport. This vibrant cultural center offers national, regional and local live performances at affordable prices. We believe the Firehouse is one of the best assets our community has to offer! 

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    « Back Talk encouraged | Main | Guest Interview: Nikole Beckwith/Dylan Metrano »
    Tuesday
    Dec112012

    Just What is Panto Anyway?

    Edward (Teddy) Speck and Beth Randall

    Bah humbug boys and girls!  Now that Little Red and Will Scarlett have fixed up everything in Sure-Wouldn't Forest, they’re off on another adventure for the holidays, with figgy-pudding, smoking-bishop and ghosts that will scare the Dickens out of you (“They’re right behind you!”).  When the Sheriff is confronted by three spirits in the night will he stop being such a Scrooge?  Can Robin get over not playing the biggest role in the play?

    These questions and more will be answered when the Firehouse teams up with Theater in the Open to present A Christmas Carol Panto: Little Red and Robin Green at the Firehouse Friday - Sun, December 14-23.  But what exactly IS panto?

    Popular throughout the UK and closely associated with the Christmas season, pantomime is a comical, musical play that features lots of cross-dressing, animals, coarse humor, and audience participation.   Even the Beatles (Lennon, Starr, Harrison, McCartney) starred in their own pantomime show in London in 1964; and the beloved Charlie Chaplin played the front end of a horse, a favorite animal character of panto, in the Hippodrome Theatre in Stockport (UK).

    Panto is a perfect holiday tradition for families to enjoy.  Mother Goose stories and other time-honored children's tales are often the foundation upon which classic British panto performances are built, but the fun is in no way limited to the younger set. Audience members of all ages are to be found, and it is customary for performances to encourage participation by one and all. Hence the "He's right behind you!" phrase that has become the tag line for all things panto as the audience desperately tries to warn the players of the dangers that lurk just out of their sight!

    Inspired by Roman plays, productions through the centuries have relied upon a stock collection of characters and situations. In days of yore, characters featured Punchinello (from whence originates Punch of Punch and Judy fame), and the classic clown Harlequin, made recognizable to most by the colorful costume with oversized diamonds. Today, it is customary to find a principle boy (often played by a woman), animals, and a smattering of double entendres which make for an entertaining time for the adults as well as the little people in your group.

    Now TITO creates its own take on the panto fun with A Christmas Carol Panto: Little Red and Robin Green. Directed by Edward Speck and written by Edward Speck and Beth Randall, this production has a cast of 45 ranging in age from 38- to 8-years old.  Starring Edward Speck as Robin Hood, Beth Randall as Sheriff/Scrooge, Aisha Chodat as Little Red, Justin Turner as Big Bad Wolf, Lily MacLeod as Will Scarlet, Tristan Horan as Little John, Spencer Redgate as Will Stutely, Kelley Knight as Deputy Bumps, Rachel Ameen as Officer Slap, and Abigail Langsner as Titania (all Newburyport). The Merry Men, Ensemble, and Christmas Spirits will be played by adults and children from Newburyport, Amesbury, Haverhill, Byfield, Bradford, South Hampton, NH, and Kingston, NH. This will be Tito’s 8th production of a Christmas Carol and one you and your family Sure-Wouldn't want to miss.

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