Yesterday I was pretty excited to take our kids to go see David Hasselhoff playing Captain Hook in the Peter Pan pantomime at my local theatre. But, let’s just backtrack for a minute for my American friends… Just what exactly is a pantomime?

Peter Pan panto posterA pantomime is basically a family orientated, fun, camp, musical play which is performed on stage between December and January each year. It’s normally based on a traditional children’s story such as Cinderella, Aladdin, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk or in this case Peter Pan. There is always what is known as a pantomime dame, as part of the cast, which is basically a comedy actor dressed up in drag. Sometimes the main hero is a boy character who is played by a girl. Very confusing I know! There are smutty innuendos for the parents and lots of fart jokes for the kids. There are fantastic musical numbers and there is often a bit of standup comedy. They throw sweets into the audience and encourage audience participation. Every panto always has some essential ingredients such as booing and hissing when the villain comes on stage or the bits where the villain says something nasty like “I’m going to get that pesky Peter Pan” and then the audience all shout back “Oh no you won’t” and then the villain replies “Oooh yes I will” and then the audience replies again “Ooooooh no you won’t!” etc. Another one is when a character is looking for someone (who happens to be hiding behind them) and the whole audience shouts out “He’s behind you!”. It’s a fantastic British tradition and one that is still going strong today. So much so that many US stars are coming over to get involved. Recently such big names as Priscilla Presley, Jerry Hall, Patrick Duffy, Jimmy Osmond, Henry Winkler, George Takei, Mickey Rooney and Pamela Anderson have all treaded the UK panto boards.

I was pretty excited when I heard that The Hoff was going to be in our local panto and it was fantastic when we got the opportunity to go. We went yesterday and saw the matinee performance which was the second last show of the whole run, so the actors were all very relaxed in the roles and up for a bit of fun. First of all let’s big up Christopher Biggins who played Mrs Smee. Biggins is a bit of a national treasure over here. He appeared in The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a Transylvanian, so he certainly has some cool street cred too. Since then he has been a staple of the UK comedy TV scene, including classics like Porridge, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em and Rentaghost and has been a regular in the panto scene over the years. He is possibly the ultimate pantomime dame and he certainly didn’t disappoint. To have him on stage with The Hoff was something special.

Peter Pan panto

One of the things I love about panto is that they are very down to earth in terms of mentioning real world stuff such as milking all the catchphrases and tropes from the stars’ past TV and film back catalogue. For The Hoff this involved making Captain Hook’s helm on his ship look like K.I.T.T. complete with the Knight Rider music, and also at one point Biggins coming on stage dressed up as Pamela Anderson from Baywatch. At various points in the show Captain Hook would speak into his hook and say “Come get me K.I.T.T.”. All these references were wasted on the kids of course but pure awesomeness for us geeky dads.

They do enjoy milking a good joke in panto and the ‘Hoff’ jokes were taken to the extreme. Captain ‘Hoff the Hook’ had a monologue at the beginning which seriously must have contained over 40 wordplays or puns containing the word Hoff. But hey, it’s panto, so the more bad jokes the better.

I really didn’t know what to expect from David Hasselhoff in a panto, but I wasn’t disappointed. He went head first into the role and embraced the whole wacky British tradition that we love so dearly. His singing is pretty great too and he sang a few of his classics such as ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ (of course). He stole the show almost every time he was on stage and also did a great job in MCing the goodbye section at the end. Good work Hoff, I will take my hat Hoff to you. Oooooh yes I will.

Hoff the Hook

PS – I tried my best to try to grab a few minutes with David to interview him for the podcast, but sadly I didn’t get a reply. Hopefully one day I might be lucky enough to meet him or speak to him for the site.

Some of the photos above are poor as they are from my camera phone in low light at the show, others are photos I took of official photos in the foyer, and others are official promotion shots from their website.