There is nothing like a dame!!February 16, 2018
Let’s All Go to the Music Hall!March 16, 2018
One of the great pantomime traditions which we love to uphold at Brick Lane Music Hall in our annual pantomime for grown-ups, is the tradition of the Principal Boy. This year, taking the role of Aladdin, is Lucy Reed, pictured above, and below with “Uncle Abanazar”, played by David Phipps-Davis.
The tradition of girls playing the role of boys, or “breeches parts” was popular even before the advent of panto’, with female actresses wearing the traditional male garment of breeches on stage from the 1660’s onwards, when it was regarded as a touch risqué.
These roles were happily incorporated into pantomime, with all the leading ladies of Victorian Music Hall taking on the role of Principal Boy in the hugely popular pantomimes of the time, which sometimes played right through to the Summer. Above, Vesta Tilley in the role of Captain Tra-la-la in the Drury Lane pantomime for the 1882–83 season’s production of Sinbad and right the “Queen Of The Music Halls”, Marie Lloyd plays Dick Whittington.
In modern times, Norman Wisdom was the first male performer to take the role of Principal Boy in pantomime in the 1956 production of Aladdin at Drury Lane. This was followed by such performers as Cliff Richard, and today it is common for the role to be taken by young male stars of TV. However, the tradition of females taking the role has never died out, with such female stars as Rula Lenska and Cilla Black making the role their own. Pictured above, Lucy Reed with her stage Mother, Widow Twankey, played by Andrew Robley, and her “brother”, Wishee Washee, played by Vincent Hayes. And below with left to right, Nathan Lodge, Sam Sadler and Jordan Langford.
The Stage, February 2018: “With women rapidly disappearing from the line-up of great pantomime performers, this production is a reminder of the value of a principal boy – here played with brio by a perky Lucy Reed. Reed’s Aladdin easily holds her own against veteran comedy actors and seasoned dames while belting out the up-beat musical numbers and generally keeping the action on track”