The English-Speaking Union

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at 5 PM (EDT) The English Pantomime With Jim Stebbings

For many people across the United Kingdom, a visit to the Pantomime or Panto is as essential a part of the Christmas season as Christmas Pudding, the Christmas Tree or the kiss under the mistletoe! Delighting both children and adults alike, productions of this traditional form of seasonal theatrical entertainment can be found across the land from small amateur productions in village halls, to professional theatres in all major towns and cities, as well as in London's West End. 

For many professional venues, the guaranteed packed houses over several weeks provide a welcome and vital financial boost.

So, what is this popular and traditional entertainment where the Principal Boy is openly played by an attractive female and the Dame is openly played by a man? How, where, and when did Pantomime and the traditional stories they feature originate? What are the vital elements, and who were the innovators who left their mark and created the roles we expect to find today?

In a presentation aided by a number of interesting and colorful slides, Jim Stebbings will answer these questions in what promises to be an informative and entertaining lecture.

Jim will be a familiar figure to many in our audiences, having given us his Happy Hour presentations on Gilbert and Sullivan in 2021, the story of the sinking of the Lusitania earlier this year. Also, in May this year, he lectured in person at four ESU-US Branches as a guest speaker in the Sir Evelyn Wrench series.

Jim has had a life-long interest in the theatre and performing, especially in the musical theatre, both as an amateur and semi-professional performer and as a producer and director.
After retirement from a professional career in financial management that took him to over thirty countries, he has been able to devote much of his leisure time to his theatrical, musical and entertainment interests. This has encompassed producing music festivals, directing and participating in various forms of musical and dramatic entertainment and studying the lives and work of the prominent musical theatre contributors to the 19th and 20th century musical theatre, and in particular Gilbert and Sullivan and the contributors to The Great American Songbook.

Jim's series of talks are designed both to entertain and inform and, as well as exploring the music, he likes to investigate the lives and human stories behind the great exponents of the musical theatre and his presentations are in constant demand across the UK.

"I like to think of my talks as theatrical productions in themselves." Each talk is illustrated with slides and pictures and some music where applicable.

Jim will be making his third Happy Hour appearance with this latest presentation, having presented his talk, "The Topsy-Turvy World of Gilbert and Sullivan" to the ESU-US Happy Hour audience in the 2021 series, and his talk "Lusitania" in May 2022. Jim was the featured speaker at four US branches as part of the Evelyn Wrench series in May 2022. Jim is himself a member of the ESU in the UK.

Jim recently completed his autobiography, The Reluctant Accountant's Window On The World and is currently writing his historical review of the musical theatre, "Stages, Steps and Stars," which he hopes to complete during 2023.
Jim still enjoys travelling internationally and is also a keen walker. He has successfully completed the grueling four-day Nijmegen Marches in Holland sixteen times.

Register Here!

Signature cocktail: Harry's White Lady

¼ oz. lemon juice

¼ oz Cointreau

1/2 oz. gin

….and a dash of egg white. Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. 

'That's an irresistible treat nobody can resist!'

'Oh no it's not.'

'Oh yes it is!'