Cinderella Live, a fully live and interactive pantomime, has had its world premiere last week, followed by a successful run with thousands of viewers tuning in to see the live shows between December 16th and 20th.
Following a difficult year and much uncertainty within the theatre business, UK-based production company Panto Live took on the challenge of creating a live pantomime experience for audiences to enjoy all over the world. Over 3000 households and 150 000 school pupils tuned in over this pantomime’s live show run and many more will enjoy the pantomime until the end of January 2021, which is now available on demand.
Rehearsals have been taking place across two weeks before the world premiere, with the crew and game developers testing the virtual worlds created for the show. It’s also been no easy feat for Director Charlotte Peters to adapt a traditionally theatrical pantomime to make it work as a televised show. Tim Churchill, who plays Ugly Sister Sharon, explains “It’s not the same as filming a pantomime on stage, so it’s not really a stage show. It’s almost a film, in a way – a live event.”
Additionally, the pantomime was shot live in front of a greenscreen, with 3D virtual worlds, effects and backgrounds generated in Unreal Engine, a world building tool used in video games and TV shows such as Fortnite and The Mandolorian. “You have all this realm of extra opportunities because by working in greenscreen, you can create magic!” says Peters. “When you’re sitting there in the studio and you see these backgrounds come to life it really does feel like our actors are there, and I definitely wasn’t expecting that sense of reality.”
“Panto is one of my favourite things about the Christmas season, and the thought of not bringing that to families this year was devastating,” says Chris Rankin, who plays the Fairy Godfather. “This production has given me an opportunity to try out a whole new way of doing Panto, and given our audiences a chance to get into the festive spirit without having to leave the comfort of their front rooms. It’s innovative, it’s fun, there’s the right amount of silliness, and such a brilliantly talented cast of performers. You’re in for a treat!”
This fully interactive show included one-of-a-kind perks for its audiences, such as a family selfie competition, giveaways and even a chance to be part of the virtual audience panel and be featured in the pantomime. An anonymous viewer reviewed the show online, “Our two daughters (and we!) loved it – and we bought tickets for their cousins and grandparents so everyone could enjoy it. Thank you for a festive treat, we always go to see the panto together but isn’t possible this year, so we appreciated this.”
Despite theatres hopefully opening again in the near future, this production has potentially paved the way for a new genre of televised theatre. Regardless of the pandemic, not everyone has the opportunity to go to a theatre, for various reasons. In particular, schools in remote locations or organisations without budgets that would allow group trips could benefit from live streamed interactive productions. “I think this is forward-thinking and could actually be evolutional,” says Cinderella Live’s Dandini, played by Kimberly Hart-Simpson. “We could take this on and it can be the start of something brand new in the industry – something that we needed but we didn’t know that we needed.”
Notes to editors:
For press enquiries please contact:
Liane Collinson, Panto Live Producer
Panto live is a UK-based production company, specialising in live online Pantomime production. As one of the UK’s leading live-streaming companies, Panto Live plays an important role in supporting theatre production during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing benefit to talent and audiences alike. Panto Live has partnered with the Actors’ Children’s Trust and the Film and TV charity for the production of Cinderella Live, supporting film and TV professionals, as well as the families of actors.
Cinderella Live will be premiered in the UK and is available to view Worldwide this Christmas, with shows broadcast between 18th-24th of December. The shows will also be available to watch on demand from 1st-31st Jan 2021. Exclusive screenings are also available to schools for in-classroom viewing of shows on the 16th and 17th of December. For full details on cast, the production and tickets, visit pantolive.com