Panto Day 2018
Friday 14th December

Carl Tracey as Prince Charming
Panto Advice
0

Playing Principal Boy

This year, 2016, will be my third consecutive panto season playing ‘principal boy’. I think it’s safe to say that I well and truly have ‘the panto bug’. I have been fortunate enough to play Peter Pan (Southborough 2014), Prince Charming (Rotherham Civic 2015) and now Aladdin at the Grand Opera House in York. As the years have passed by I have certainly grown and learnt from my experiences which I have collated below in the form of some top tips!

  1. Invest in a vocal steamer! As principal boy you are often singing the most which on those 3 show days can really start to take its toll. I can’t recommend the Dr Nelsons vocal inhaler highly enough. Steaming before and after the show really does help to take the edge off.
  2. Warm up thoroughly. Those 10:30am shows can really be a struggle so I try to give myself the best head start I can. Panto schedules can be insane and you don’t want to burn out after the first week.
  3. Form a strong bond with your principal girl. As principal boy you will find that most of your rehearsal time and consequently, stage time is spent alongside your principal girl. An audience loves to see genuine chemistry so take the time to really get to know who you are going to be falling in love with twice/three times a day.
  4. Pick out your ‘audience moments’. As principal boy you do spend most of your time singing the slushy love songs and acting as one of the more serious characters in the production. However I always try and find those nice moments where you can build your bond and connection with the audience. As dame or the buttons style character most of these moments are already scripted and staged as these roles are specifically designed to bridge the gap between audience and stage. However as principal boy there are naturally less of these moments so try and find your points throughout the show in both script and song where you can build that rapport with the audience.
  5. Berocca…. And plenty of it!
  6. Find your cheats… As principal boy you can expect to sing anything from big Whitney Houston belting ballads to fast and modern tracks to give that opening to act 2 a real ‘wow factor’. To sing those numbers the way the artists do on the album whilst sometimes dancing at the same time, twice a day, 6 days a week for 6 weeks isn’t realistic… (I defy Mariah herself to be able to do the same thing) so find your cheats. Take the time to find those alternative vocal routes through the songs that will just help you through some of those early morning shows whilst still more than satisfying your paying audience.
  7. Don’t generalise your role. I have always tried to approach each principal boy role afresh. Whilst they of course have very similar traits and show patterns (meet girl, fall in love during a 2 minute duet, fight for girl and ultimately win the day etc) I still believe it’s important to have layers and depth to the character. My current director Stuart Wade has a real dislike for the ‘it’s just panto’ attitude and actually dedicated a considerable amount of rehearsal time to help the relationship between Yasmin ( Being played by Suzanne Shaw) and myself flourish and be believable. As principal boy/girl you are known as the slightly more ‘real’ characters and essentially the strength of the shows story element relies on this pairing.
  8. Enjoy every second of it. As principal boy you get to defeat baddies in sword fights, fly over the stalls on a magic carpet and fly to Neverland whilst somersaulting around the stage singing ‘Frozen’ at the top of your lungs. To the young boy sat in row C you are a real life hero. It’s basically playtime at school again. What more could you ask for?

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