LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Circus Mondao Pantomime

Ringmistress Petra Jackson (left) and Bippo the Clown (3rd from left)
are joined by Ugly SistersAlan Stratford-Johns and
Oliver Dane Sanders Imbert-Terry esq
(Can that really be his name? Oh yes it is!)
in the Circus Mondao pantomime

- Oh yes it is!

As you drive along the A11, near Thetford in Norfolk, the sight of the light-bedecked Circus Mondao tent poking over the wall of the Elveden country estate like a well-lit Christmas tree is a welcome sight on a wintry day - and the show that awaits you inside the big top is a welcome alternative to the traditional theatre panto.

Circus Mondao's
Christmas Programme
There have always been links between circus and pantomime, not least in the person of Joseph Grimaldi, the early 19th century panto star regarded as the father of modern clowning. Circus clowns are still nicknamed Joeys in his honour, and although Grimaldi never worked in a circus ring, he employed many elements of circus, such as performing animals on stage.

In previous eras, meanwhile, many circus stars, and their animals, found winter work in theatre pantomimes.

So although the idea of a circus putting on a panto may seem novel, it’s not without precedent, and the two genres combine extremely smoothly in this new show, which plays every day from now until January 3.

The story picks up where ordinary pantomimes end. Cinderella has married her Prince Charming, but now that the new has worn off her happy ever after, life for poor Cinders has reverted to domestic drudgery. To relieve her boredom, she asks her fairy godmother to conjure up a circus.

My preview of Circus Mondao's
visit to Elvenden in the
Weekly News
That’s about it, as far as plot is concerned. But, with little story to slow the proceedings, it’s action all the way as a string of high standard circus acts - silk, solo trapeze, aerial straps - are interspersed with panto routines featuring Alex Morley and Ian Jarvis as a pair of well costumed Ugly Sisters.

Panto’s traditional ‘ghost’ routine gets a literal lift from a flying spook that spirits one of the Ugly Sisters away into the roof, and there’s plenty of space in the big top for a very messy ‘slosh’ routine, starring the Uglies and Mondao’s regular clown, Bippo.

The beautiful, plumed spotted horses galloping through the sawdust, meanwhile, add to the impression that we’ve been whisked away to a magical dreamland.

Kids will love the parade of zebras, lamas, camels and Shetland ponies - and the chance to meet them in their own, smaller big top after the show - while dads will have their spirits lifted by the glamorous showgirls performing a can-can.

Perfectly timed to coincide with Amanda Holden’s Big Top on BBC1, this alternative to the traditional theatre panto is the perfect opportunity for a new audience to get their first taste of the real big top.

So roll up, roll up for the greatest Christmas show in Norfolk.

Circus Mondao is run by sisters Gracie Timmis and Carol Macmanus - the youngest generation of Britain's oldest circus family. To read the full story of their 200 years in the circus, plus behind-the-scenes visits to and interviews with the showmen and stars of Britain's most popular circuses,  buy Circus Mania direct from Peter Owen Publishers for the special offer price of £10 including postage and packing in the UK (for overseas orders add £2.75 worldwide)
Send cheques to:

Peter Owen Publishers
81 Ridge Road
London N8 9NP

Or download the Kindle edition from Amazon

"Circus Mania is a brilliant account of a vanishing art form."
- Mail on Sunday

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.