"Imagine Christmas without pantomime -- without the Ugly Sisters, Dick Whittington and his Cat, or Jack slaying the giant! They are as much a part of holiday tradition as the turkey, mince pies, the fairy on topthe Christmas tree, the holly and mistletoe. But how much do we know about this peculiarly British Institution. When did it start? And how did the characters and storylines assume the form we now regard as essential to the true nature of pantomime?
... pantomime developed out of the Italian commedia dell'arte characters of the Harlequinade ; how men like John Rich, the eighteenth century theatre manager, Grimaldi, the most famous clown with of all with his sausages and a red-hot poker, and music-hall stars like Dan Leno and Vesta Tilley, down to today's television entertainers, have contributed their particular talents to it; and how others, less well known, have created the tricks and traps and jokes, and above all the 'skin' parts (where would pantomime be without a goose, or cow, or cat?) that we have all come to expect ... To those doubters who would deny that pantomime today is alive and well and set for another good few years, this book joyfully and triumphantly ripostes : Oh yes it is!"--copied from book dust jacket