Panto Day 2020
Friday 18th December

Panto Advice

What makes a Sister?

Great Sisters come from great partnerships, two actors who realise individually they are not the star of the show, but together are a tour de force of comedy and tragedy.  Unlike any other dame in panto land the sisters have a hard task; to make the audience laugh, then to command a boo that would out do the greatest King Rat. Like any pantomime role you have to have the skill. For years now many actors have dipped their toes into the sister’s boudoir, but I believe the ones that stick as couples, like many comedy double acts have the greatest chance and why?  You usually find that these partnerships invest in their business, they are unique, and they are Sisters.

Next Christmas usually starts on February 1st, evaluating what has just happened. Did the 18 changes in all 70 shows get a gasp, a giggle or a right old belly laugh…If something’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!

Why have 1ft beehive wigs when a 3ft beehive wig with bees flying around it seems much more fitting and funny?

Ian Smith and Michael J Batchelor are now seasoned Sisters and with a wardrobe valued at around 40k these boys are serious.

They design each outfit top to toe, and alongside The Costume Fairies create these unique and show stopping outfits, always looking for inspiration and something new.

During the design process you have to remember sisters are 1 dame and 1 baddie rolled into one, each costume has to coordinate and compliment its other; I wouldn’t say its ying and yang but its close!!!  Ian and Michael play on the traditional thin and fat sister, one tall and one squat, it makes for comedy. So therefore if a headdress Ian is wearing is 4ft plus feathers, Michael’s has to be 4ft wide plus feathers…if Ian’s crinoline is 2 meters wide  Michael’s has to be 4 meters.

Colours, fabrics, textures, patterns, and styles all have to be thought about when creating a sister’s wardrobe, what’s the point in having the same dress design in 10 colours?

There are sisters out there who choose a scruffy wig and badly applied make up, that’s fine if it works for them…Ian and Michael choose their ugliness comes from the character portrayal and not the costume, once the audience has seen the costume, the reaction is then gone…you can’t rely on being a hat stand.  There are moments when only a true sister knows how it feels during the ticket tearing scene, if you can hear a pin drop as Cinderella makes the first tear you’ve done it, and if you can get a big great cheer when you enter the ballroom 30 minutes later, you’ve done your job.

Alongside fairies, giants, rats, pirates, princesses, princes, genies and other dames the Sisters have a unique job to do, a truly British job.  Not everyone can do it, not everyone would want to…but as you walk through the town centre the day after and you hear a family still laughing at your inflatable bust or the size of the ice cream hairdo you remember it’s all worthwhile.

Happy Sistermass everybody!

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