Pantomime at "The Surrey Theatre, Re-decorated. Illustrated London News 13 January 1849, p. 29. Scanned image, caption information, and text by Philip V. Allingham. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link to this URL or cite it in a print document.]

Derived from Italian street theatre, commedia dell' arte, Victorian pantomimes ("pantos"), following eighteenth-century practice, were traditionally staged at Christmas and Easter. The accompanying illustration shows a pantomime in its concluding stages at the Surrey Theatre over the Christmas holidays in 1848-49. Charles Dickens recorded his own memories of pantomimes in "A Curious Dance Round a Curious Tree" in Household Words, 17 January 1852, just after the pantos would have closed for the season. In the Oxford Reader's Companion to Charles Dickens, Edwin Eigner notes "British theatres depended on Christmas pantomime for financial stability" (440).

The article accompanying the illustration notes that the Surrey Theatre, "entirely re-decorated" under the supervision of Cheapside architect R. W. Withall (29), re-opened on the 26th of December. The new stage was 65 feet in depth and fifty feet wide, the auditorium being illuminated by a central, cut-glass "lustre" and ornamental chandeliers.


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Last modified 15 July 2010