Pantomimes are incomplete without their dazzling dame but what does it take to be one? Here are the top 7 tips on what it takes to be a brilliant dame.
A man in a skirt who likes to flirt
First and foremost, a dame is a man dressed as a woman. Don’t get this confused with a drag queen, a dame is more of a dramatic caricature. In this year’s pantomime at Norwich Theatre Royal, Richard Gauntlett plays Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack’s flirtatious and endearing mother.
Look dazzling in a dress
There’s nothing subtle about a dame’s outfit! Their costumes are elaborate, consisting of elements that represent their character. Dames have several costume changes throughout the pantomime and each of them involve glamourous and over the top outfits with a comedic element.
A dame is not complete without their over-the-top makeup. Donning the most colourful and elaborate eyeshadow, paired with a pair of fluttery lashes and exaggerated lipstick, dames are experts in stage makeup.
The heart of humour
A dame is always at the centre of comedy. One of their key purposes is to encourage audience participation and keep everyone laughing. The classic pantomime dialogue such as ‘it’s behind you’ and ‘oh, yes, it is’ are often delivered by the dame. Their sense of humour is cheeky and fuelled with sly innuendos.
Friend of the audience
Another of the dame’s main roles is building a rapport with the audience and becoming a friend figure. They keep everyone engaged with their high energy and quick wit, frequently breaking the fourth wall to gossip with the audience.
Typically, the same actors are invited back to return as dame each year. This year marks 20 years since Richard Gauntlett first made his mark at Norwich Theatre Royal as the returning dame in our yearly pantomimes. He returns to the role of Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk, the same role he undertook 20 years ago when he first ever played a dame!
Pantomime is deeply rooted in British culture and primarily serves as entertainment for children and their families. A brilliant dame prioritises amusing the audience, stirring children’s imagination and sparking their love for the arts. Dames always ensure all generations of the family are laughing!
This year’s pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk is on at Norwich Theatre Royal 10 Dec – 7 Jan 2023.