The Lythgoes Bring ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Panto to the Laguna Playhouse

Words can lose something in translation, even from England to America. Thanks to the Lythgoe family—whose patriarch is “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe—the word “pantomime” has lost the mime and gained its voice as a boisterous holiday entertainment called panto.

Kris Lythgoe, Nigel’s son, created the American version of panto. This Dec. 7 through 30, Laguna Playhouse will present Lythgoe’s “Sleeping Beauty” panto. It’s the second year of a relationship both the Lythgoes and Lagunans hope will be a long-running family affair.

Becky Lythgoe, one of the producers, says panto takes classic fairy tales and turns them into interactive, hiss-the-villain melodramas filled with current pop songs sung by the story’s characters. Songs are chosen to appeal to a wide range of ages, from Jessie J’s “Domino” and Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” to perennials such as “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

“Our goal is to create holiday theater alternatives to ‘Christmas Carol’ or ‘Nutcracker’ that are affordable for families and help young audiences fall in love with the theater so that we make sure we have a future for theater,” Lythgoe says.

The Lythgoes now have six productions available, with different shows in Pasadena and San Diego this year. Each performance includes the added attraction of preshow activities.

“Families can come an hour early and do arts and crafts, cutting out snowfl akes or decorating ornaments with characters from the show,” Lythgoe explains. “It’s part of getting the kids excited about live theater.”

Premiere OC | Fall/Winter 2016-2017