Saturday, October 9, 2010


Pantomime was one of the major forms of entertainment for the Australian people in the 19th Century and J C Williamson pantomimes were for decades the highlight of the year for families in the capital cities. Every Xmas, Williamson would produce a lavish show with opulent sets, huge casts, elaborate choruses and dance productions.

Xmas 1883 saw Aladdin come to Melbourne. It starred J C Williamson's wife, Maggie Moore as the principal boy.

Everything about the pantomime experience was special, including the programmes, which detailed the names of cast and crew, the libretto of the panto and beautiful colour prints of the scenes.

10 years later Sydney was treated to Cinderella. Once again a huge production which featured a transformation scene showing the "wealth produce and progress of Australia.' Here is a part of the programme.

The nationalistic theme echoed the concerns of the community of the time. 1895 was the time of Federation debates and a rise in Australian nationalism. The pantomimes reflected the cultural concerns of colonial society and in many ways contibuted towards shaping political and social opinion.

Unfortunately pantomime is a fading art form, particularly in Australia, but in the 19th century it was the epitome of style, class and Christmas cheer.

More information about Australian pantomime.

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