Seattle's Child

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A Parent’s Review: A Fairy Tale British Panto

What qualifies as bad behavior at a British panto would be failing to shout, boo, howl and otherwise talk back to the actors. Yes, more than 100 years ago, the Brits created the ideal toddler play experience. And for the next few weekends, parents in the Seattle area can take their kids to see Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs performed as a British pantomime, or panto, by the Fremont Players.

The show is at the Hale's Ale Palladium, a giant warehouse of a theater that you enter at the backside of the Hale's brewery on Leary (a giant clown painting will indicate you're there). The scene is reassuringly casual: folding chairs, bags of popcorn for $1, and beer for sale for the grown-ups to drink in their seats. Kids are invited to sit on the giant rug spread directly in front of the stage, though our daughter preferred sitting on a lap.

The master of ceremonies and Big Bad Wolf, a.k.a. Wolfie, opens the show with a quick explanation of the British panto, encouraging the crowd to engage with the actors, telling them to "look behind you" should trouble lurk in the wings, as well as booing and hissing the show's villains. Additionally, there are live musicians from the Fremont Philharmonic Orchestra to help keep the kids entertained with their tubas, drums and kazoos. At 2 years old, our daughter was less inclined to holler at the actors, but she did gleefully shout "piggies!" at their entrances and applauded enthusiastically throughout the show.

The play is based ever so loosely on the stories of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, though it turns out that it's the greedy, clear-cutting mayor who's the real villain of the show, not the unfairly maligned wolf. The acting is delightfully exaggerated and the costumes are sparkly and silly. Some of the actors' lines can be hard to hear, but the gist of the plot is easy to follow. There's singing and dancing to keep the show moving, including a three pigs rap. There's also a sizable dose of the risqué, though it will likely soar over a kiddos head and should not offend or raise awkward questions; it's pure camp.

After the show, the actors mingle in the audience, greeting the kids and letting them check out their costumes close up.

As well as being over-the-top and interactive, a British panto is also a regular feature of the Christmas and New Year season, so local parents can make the show – which changes each year – part of a new holiday tradition.



Where: Hale’s Ales Palladium, 4301 Leary Way N.W., Seattle

When: Saturday, Dec. 18 at 4 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 12, 19, 26 and Jan. 2 at 1 and 4 p.m. The show runs close to 90 minutes with one 10-minute intermission.

Admission: Adults $12, seniors and children $6; tickets at the door or online at


Lisa Stiffler is a Seattle writer and mom.

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Lisa Stiffler