Do you know what the secret of good panto is?

David Lambert
David Lambert

The secret of good panto?

Tell plenty of rude jokes and then tell the audience off for laughing at them, says David Lambert who will be our Nanny Fanny at Shoreham’s Ropetackle this Christmas.

The show is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, running from Friday, December 13-Tuesday, December 31, with David not simply taking the dame role, but directing as well.

“Last year was my second panto at Shoreham, and it went very well. We got lots of laughs and the audience were great. We had lots of fun and we had lots of giggles.”

Of course, there is always the temptation to go somewhere else, but David is delighted to be back in Shoreham once again: “It was a great company. We all got on very well, and it is such a great venue. There is a real family atmosphere, and the whole venue is so supportive.

“And it is such fabulous news that the venue has got the funding and has been saved. It is such a good place for Shoreham. There is so much stuff that is going on there, and it just works really well for pantomime. I think it works because it is so intimate and you feel so close to the audience.

“You get the feedback from the moment you get on stage, and then you just feed it back to them and off you go.

“You tell them some rude jokes and then tell them off for laughing. You tell them you don’t understand what they are laughing at and that it is just their dirty minds!”

As David says, he has done a fair few dames over the years. The trick is to please everyone. You have got the rude jokes for all the audience; you have got the rather more risqué jokes for the adults; and for the children you have got all the slapstick.

“That’s the thing about panto. You have got to have something for everyone. You have got the slapstick for the children and you have got the wit for adults.”

This year, producer and panto writer Tom Beard has entrusted David with the directing: “I have got the whole caboodle, and that’s going to be a lot of extra work, setting and placing and looking after the youngsters.

“But actually I have spent most of my theatrical life as a director, so it shouldn’t be too much hardship. You just get on with it. You concentrate on everyone else and then at the last moment, you think about your own performance. You just learn the lines and get on with it.”

The most important thing is to tell the story: “If the whole thing is just a collection of silly jokes, then the children will soon get bored of it. You have got to have a story to carry them through, and you have got to have the highs and the lows so that everyone can catch their breath. And then you just hope that it all fits together well!”

“Panto is very much for the entire family. It is for all ages. You have got to have something for every member of the family, and when it works, it is damned good entertainment.

“People try to embellish it and put in big stars and big names off the TV that don’t always come off because they just haven’t got the stage experience, but if you get it right, it is timeless entertainment. There will always be pantomime.”

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