The Tale of “Puss In Boots” was told by Perrault as “Le Chat Botte” in his “Histories ou contes du temps passé”, published in 1697. The English translation is from 1729 by Robert Samber in “Histories, or Tales of Past Times”
Perrault based his story on an Italian folk tale published as “The Delightful Nights” by Gianfrancesco Straparola (1480-1557).This was published in 1534.
It is a “rags to riches” tale, like “Cinderella”, but in many ways, like “Jack and The Beanstalk” or “Ali Baba” it has a questionable morality. The riches are gained through the trickery of an expert “con man”- The Puss of the title. The hero of the story receives all his wealth and his Princess bride as a result of a “Cat Scam”! Unlike Cinderella he is not unjustly bullied or put upon, his only saving grace morally being that he is very poor, and follows the cat’s instructions to the letter, often oblivious to the consequences.
The moral, if there is one, is that only clothing sets the different classes apart, and (like Cinderella’s appearance at the ball) you can step up the social ladder if you look the part! The Imposter wins the day.
Charles Perrault did not create the cat however. The origin of the trickster dates from further back, and would appear to be Italian in origin. However, in all these earlier versions the cat is bootless. Similar tales can be found around the world- in these versions the cat is sometimes a fox, a monkey or a jackal.
In 1553 “Piacevole notti” the character of the cat appears- in this story a poor woman has three sons, with the third (and poorest) son inheriting the cat. The plot involves the cat poaching fish and rabbits and presenting them to the King with his master’s compliments.The cat creates an imaginary wealthy master that the King will eventually wish to meet. In this version the cat claims his master is called Constantino.
As in the Perrault version, the hero is told to bathe in a river, and the cat removes his clothes, waiting for the King to pass and crying “Save my master- he is drowning”- and fresh clothing (worthy of a Prince) are provided by the King.
This version was published in France in 1560.
By 1634 the author Basile created “Pentamerone” which tells of the third son of an old beggar in Naples. This son inherits a cat. The story is similar to the version of 1553- this time the hero is described by the cat as Lord Gagliuso. The trick with missing clothing is set into place, and the King meets the imposter.
A clever ruse in this version is that the cat is nearly caught out. The King sends his servants to make enquiries about the mysterious Lord Gagliuso. Puss is one step ahead.
Everytime Puss came across a herd of sheep, a drove of pigs or a troop of horses, he told them that villains were pillaging the land. If they wanted to be safe, they should tell anyone asking that they were the property of Lord Gagliuso. This way the King’s servants discovered that the mystery Lord seemed to own everything they came across. A wealthy marriage was set up by the King, and our hero marries the Princess- using her dowry to build a vast estate.
This version (1634) had a moral that helped to temper the injustice of the story. The hero had all he wanted, due to the trickery of Puss. Gagliuso promised in return that, when the cat died he would have its body preserved in a solid gold coffin.
The cat decided to test his master, and pretended to be dead. Lying with his paws stretched out he heard Gagliuso order his wife to take the corpse by the paws and throw it out of the window!
The cat jumped to its feet and berated the boy for his ingratitude, before leaving him to fend for himself in the future.
THE ORIGINAL STORY OF “PUSS IN BOOTS”
By Charles Perrault
A MILLER, dying, divided all his property between his three children. This was very easy, as he had nothing to leave but his mill, his ass, and his cat; so he made no will, and called in no lawyer. The eldest son had the mill; the second, the ass; and the youngest, nothing but the cat. The young fellow was quite downcast at so poor a lot. "My brothers," said he, "by putting their property together, may gain an honest living, but there is nothing left for me except to die of hunger, unless, indeed, I were to kill my cat and eat him, and make a muff of his skin."
The cat, who heard all this, sat up on his four paws, and looking at him with a grave and wise air, said: "Master, I think you had better not kill me; I shall be much more useful to you alive."
"How so?" asked his master.
"You have but to give me a sack and a pair of boots, such as gentlemen wear when they go shooting, and you will find you are not so ill off as you suppose."
Now, though the young man did not much depend upon the cat's words, still he thought it rather surprising that a cat should speak at all. And he had before now seen him play a great many cunning tricks in catching rats and mice, so that it seemed advisable to trust him a little further; especially as-poor young fellow-he had nobody else to trust.
When the cat got his boots, he drew them on with a grand air, and slinging his sack over his shoulder, and drawing the cords of it round his neck, he marched bravely to a rabbit warren hard by, with which he was well acquainted. Then, putting some bran and lettuces into his bag, and stretching himself out beside it as if he were dead, he waited till some fine, fat young rabbit, ignorant of the wickedness and deceit of the world, should peep into the sack to eat the food that was inside. This happened very shortly, for there are plenty of foolish young rabbits in every warren; and when one of them, who really was a splendid fat fellow, put his head inside, Master Puss drew the cords immediately, and took him and killed him without mercy. Then, very proud of his prey, he marched direct to the palace, and begged to speak with the King.
He was told to ascend to the apartment of his majesty, where, making a low bow, he said: "Sire, here is a magnificent rabbit, killed in the warren, which belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, and which he told me to offer humbly to your majesty."
"Tell your master," replied the King, politely, "that I accept his present, and am very much obliged to him."
Another time, Puss went out and hid himself and his sack in a wheat field, and there caught two splendid fat partridges in the same manner as he had done the rabbit. When he presented them to the King, with a similar message as before, his majesty was so pleased that he ordered the cat to be taken down into the kitchen and given something to eat and drink; where, while enjoying himself, the faithful animal did not cease to talk in the most cunning way of the large preserves and abundant game which belonged to his lord the Marquis of Carabas.
One day, hearing that the King was intending to take a drive along the riverside with his daughter, the most beautiful princess in the world, Puss said to his master: "Sir, if you would only follow my advice, your fortune is made."
"Be it so," said the miller's son, who was growing disconsolate, and cared very little what he did: "Say your say, cat."
"It is but little," replied Puss, looking wise, as cats can. "You have only to go and bathe in the river at a place which I shall show you, and leave all the rest to me. Only remember that you are no longer yourself, but my lord the Marquis of Carabas."
"Just so," said the miller's son, "it's all the same to me;" but he did as the cat told him.
While he was bathing, the King and all the court passed by, and were startled to hear loud cries of "Help! help! my lord the Marquis of Carabas is drowning." The King put his head out of the carriage, and saw nobody but the cat, who had at different times brought him so many presents of game; however, he ordered his guards to fly quickly to the succor of my lord the Marquis of Carabas. While they were pulling the unfortunate marquis out of the water, the cat came up, bowing, to the side of the King's carriage, and told a long and pitiful story about some thieves who, while his master was bathing, had come and carried away all his clothes, so that it would be impossible for him to appear before his majesty and the illustrious princess.
"Oh, we will soon remedy that," answered the King, kindly and immediately ordered one of the first officers of the household to ride back to the palace with all speed, and bring thence a supply of fine clothes for the young gentleman, who kept out of sight until they arrived. Then, being handsome and well-made, his new clothes became him so well, that he looked as if he had been a marquis all his days, and advanced with an air of respectful ease to offer his thanks to his majesty.
The King received him courteously, and the princess admired him very much. Indeed, so charming did he appear to her, that she hinted to her father to invite him into the carriage with them, which, you may be sure the young man did not refuse. The cat, delighted at the success of his scheme, went away as fast as he could, and ran so swiftly that he kept a long way ahead of the royal carriage. He went on and on, till he came to some peasants who were mowing in a meadow. "Good people," said he, in a very firm voice, "the King is coming past here shortly, and if you do not say that the field you are mowing belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped as small as mincemeat."
So when the King drove by, and asked whose meadow it was where there was such a splendid crop of hay, the mowers all answered, trembling, that it belonged to my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
"You have very fine land, marquis," said his majesty to the miller's son, who bowed, and answered that "it was not a bad meadow, take it altogether."
Then the cat came to a wheat field, where the reapers were reaping with all their might. He bounced in upon them: "The King is coming past to-day, and if you do not tell him that this wheat belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, I will have you everyone chopped as small as mincemeat." The reapers, very much alarmed, did as they were bid, and the King congratulated the marquis upon possessing such beautiful fields, laden with such an abundant harvest.
They drove on-the cat always running before and saying the same thing to everybody he met, that they were to declare that the whole country belonged to his master; so that even the King was astonished at the vast estate of my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
But now the cat arrived at a great castle where dwelt an Ogre, to whom belonged all the land through which the royal carriage had been driving. This Ogre was a cruel tyrant, and his tenants and servants were terribly afraid of him, which accounted for their being so ready to say whatever they were told to say by the cat, who had taken pains to inform himself all about the Ogre. So, putting on the boldest face he could assume, Puss marched up to the castle with his boots on, and asked to see the owner of it, saying that he was on his travels, but did not wish to pass so near the castle of such a noble gentleman without paying his respects to him. When the Ogre heard this message, he went to the door, received the cat as civilly as an Ogre can, and begged him to walk in and repose himself.
"Thank you, sir," said the cat; "but first I hope you will satisfy a traveler's curiosity. I have heard in far countries of your many remarkable qualities, and especially how you have the power to change yourself into any sort of beast you choose-a lion, for instance, or an elephant."
"That is quite true," replied the Ogre; "and lest you should doubt it I will immediately become a lion."
He did so; and the cat was so frightened that he sprang up to the roof of the castle and hid himself in the gutter-a proceeding rather inconvenient on account of his boots, which were not exactly fitted to walk with on tiles. At length, perceiving that the Ogre had resumed his original form, he came down again, and owned that he had been very much frightened.
"But, sir," said he, "it may be easy enough for such a big gentleman as you to change himself into a large animal; I do not suppose you could become a small one-a rat, or mouse, for instance. I have heard that you can; still, for my part, I consider it quite impossible."
"Impossible!" cried the other, indignantly. "You shall see!" and immediately the cat saw the Ogre no longer, but a little mouse running along on the floor.
This was exactly what Puss wanted; and he fell upon him at once and ate him up. So there was an end to the Ogre.
By this time the King had arrived opposite the castle, and had a strong wish to go into it. The cat, hearing the noise of the carriage wheels, ran forward in a great hurry, and, standing at the gate, said, in a loud voice: "Welcome, sire, to the castle of my lord the Marquis of Carabas."
"What!" cried his majesty, very much surprised, "does the castle also belong to you? Truly, marquis, you have kept your secret well up to the last minute. I have never seen anything finer than this courtyard and these battlements. Let us go in, if you please."
The marquis, without speaking, offered his hand to the princess to help her to descend, and, standing aside that the King might enter first, followed his majesty to the great hall, where a magnificent dinner was laid out, and where, without more delays they all sat down to feast.
Before the banquet was over, the King, charmed with the good qualities of the Marquis of Carabas, said, bowing across the table at which the princess and the miller's son were talking very confidentially together: "It rests with you, marquis, whether you will marry my daughter."
"I shall be only too happy," said the marquis, and the princess's cast- down eyes declared the same.
So they were married the very next day, and took possession of the Ogre's castle, and of everything that had belonged to him.
As for the cat, he became at once a great lord, and had nevermore any need to run after mice, except for his own diversion.
(from The Junior Classics: Volume One, Fairy and Wonder Tales , selected and arranged by William Patten)
· Source: Andrew Lang, The Blue Fairy Book (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., ca. 1889), pp. 141-147. Lang's source: Charles Perrault, Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités: Contes de ma mère l'Oye (Paris, 1697).
· Edited by D. L. Ashliman. © 2002.
The Pantomime Origins:
It was first seen at Covent Garden in 1817-1818. This was not a success- even with Joseph Grimaldi appearing in it The story failed to find favour with the audience.
In 1832 “Puss In Boots: or Harlequin and The Millers Son” was also at Covent Garden. Eliza Povey was one of the earliest Principal Boys, playing the role of The Miller’s Son. these were chiefly Harlequinaides, and not the pantomime versions as we know them.
Drury Lane produced “Puss In Boots: or Harlequin and the Fairy Of The Golden Palms” in 1859, and again the theatre produced “Grimalkin The Great: or Harlequin Puss In Boots and The Miller’s Son” in 1868.
This pantomime does not seem to have the traditional “set” names that many of the others have. In fact the only long standing name is that of the Principal Boy.
The Principal Boy:
Traditionally the hero’s name is Colin. This seems to have been consistent- examples in 1898, 1913, 1957 and 1980 . Where the pantomime is set in Spain or Italy there have been changes- Pedro for example, and Carlos. He has also been named Jocelyn (1869) and Jack (Lyceum 1936).Frankie Vaughan at the Palladium became Francesco (1962)
“Puss In Boots” often appears as a traditional “crawling” skin part in the beginning of the pantomime, before his transformation into the walking, talking booted feline. In his “domestic” appearance he has had several names over the years. Grimalkin (Joseph Irving 1869), “Sly Boots” (1898), Tibbie, Whiskers and Dodger are some of his names. Dick Emery played “Puss” at the Palladium in 1962.
Bobby Crush - Mimi Law as Puss
In many productions the Dame is the Queen. Queen Frica and Queen Appleblossom are two examples from the 1950’s. When not a royal she has been Dame Tickle (1930’s) who becomes the Royal Cook, or Dame Shortly (1898), and Dame Cranberry (1913). There is no set name for the Dame in “Puss In Boots”. Florrie Forde- former Principal Boy played Queen Goodheart (1936). In some productions the Dame is Dame Trott.
Muggles and Miffins seem to be semi-traditional names for this character. Muggles (1998) and Wiggles (1913) have been used, and when Harry Secombe played the role he was “Pauncho”.- opposite Gillian Lynne, original director of “Cats” as “Puss!”. (Gillian also played Queen of Catland at the Palladium 1962).
His title changes from production to production. He has been King Cranky (1950’s), Charles (1930’s), King Leo Of Catalania, Tappem The 2oth (Wilkie Bard 1913) King Jim (played by Jimmy Edwards 1957), Jimkhana, Duke of Monte Polo (Jimmy Edwards again 1962) Philip The Podgy, The King Of Little Bretagne- quite topical now, but dating from 1868- and King Grabbus (1898). Harry Angers played King Harry Angustura- “a bitter accomplice” (1936 Liverpool)
In Spanish or Italian themed settings she has been Princess Rosalita, Isabella, in others she has been Princess Mary Rose,(1957) Rosemund, Rose D’Amour (1869) Claribelle, Ivy (1898) and even Sonia. (1950’s). In 1962 Joan Regan was “Linda” at the Palladium.
An Ogre long before Shrek- he has been named variously Digestus (1898), Hankipanki The Great, Ogre Rumbletum and Gorgibuster.
The Ogre’s Henchman:
In the 1930’s he was Uriah Creep, as the Ogre’s Chef he has been Ros Biff, and in Spanish setting Don Ombra.
Although the pantomime does not depend on magic (it uses deceit and trickery instead) there have often been immortal characters- Fairy Queens, especially in earlier productions. The Fairy has been Hymenoptra (A Queen Bee 1869 Drury Lane), Fortuna (Italian Setting) Electra- spirit of light, Katarina (1913), Felina (1898) and Fairy Starlight in the 1950’s.
In many versions of “Puss In Boots” the two older brothers of the Principal Boy feature- often not the friendliest of his relatives. In Italian/Spanish settings they have been Guido & Lazerillo, later Gilbert & Gussy (Palladium 1950’s) and as played by Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise- Hurdy & Gurdy (1957).
Cackle & Crackle, Bubble & Squeak, and Reckless Rudolph.
Virtually “Ugly Sisters” played by The Bernard Brothers at the Palladium as Village Maids Dandilion & Buttercup.
One of “The Crazy Gang” Monsewer Eddie Gray played Monsewer The P.T.Instructor in 1936, Eugene Stratton, Music Hall star virtually played himself, and G.H.Elliott played “Count Chocolate” in the Prince Of Wales Birmingham in 1913.
The Queen or Dame has had a comedy maid in some productions, and the Ogre has had many different aides and attendants, as has the King- “Morpheus & Orpheus” for example, the Royal Valets (1880’s).
PUSS IN BOOTS- THE PANTOMIME
As a Pantomime subject, “Puss In Boots” began to fade in the 1980’s. It is very rarely seen as a professional pantomime today. One possibility of a renaissance occurred when “Shrek 2” was released. The character of “Puss In Boots” (voiced by Antonio Banderras) was revived to a new audience of children. Toys have been marketed, and “Puss In Boots” products are still on the shelves, but alas, even this did not revive the fortunes of “Puss” as a panto subject. The “Shrek” series itself features another “Puss In Boots” panto character- that of The Ogre. Shrek’s lovable Ogre is very different from the one featured in this story. Not quite a giant, and yet as mean as Blunderbore, this Ogre is bested by “Puss” in the pantomimes finale.
Puss in Boots - As Seen in Shrek 2
The plot of the pantomime version usually follows the Perrault story closely. The comedy elements though differ from production to production, depending on who the chief comic characters are- whether the King, for example is the “star” name, or (in the Palladium production for instance with Dick Emery) The Cat can be a comic as well. The Cat can be played by a female or male performer. The Dame may be Colin’s mother, or she may be the Queen.
There are so many variables that it is not possible to outline a typical panto version, and the following is an impression of what you might see at the theatre.
In many versions the prologue would tell the tale of how Colin came to own the cat. The Miller has died, and the two older brothers have inherited his mill, and a donkey. Colin is crestfallen to discover that all he owns is the Miller’s cat. He now has to set off and seek his fortune elsewhere. In some versions the “immortals”- perhaps a Fairy and a Witch (possibly the Ogre’s Mother ) will be involved.
The Opening Scene:
Depending on whether the panto is set in Spain, or Italy or in rural England., It might be set in a Spanish town Square, or in the village beside the mill.
In the opening scene we establish that Colin (the Principal Boy) and his Cat will find times hard. The various characters will be introduced- The King and his daughter, The Dame (or Queen) and the principal comic. Broker’s men characters may be introduced, and there may be references to an evil Ogre who (as in Jack and the Beanstalk) holds the land to ransom.
Colin might well meet the Princess at this point- and they may fall in love. (as in Aladdin) but if they do meet, she has to pretend NOT to recognise him when he is pretending to be a nobleman later on in the plot.
Colin’s cat at this point would most likely be a “Dick Whittington” type of panto cat- cute, mischievous and , apart from the odd “miow”, mute!
The Road To The Mill:
Just as things look grim for Colin, his luck is about to change. In the story-book version the Cat suddenly speaks, and asks his master for a pair of enchanted boots. In the panto version, it is usually better if the cat doesn’t speak until “he” has transformed, and is actually wearing the boots.
The Shoe Shop:
In some productions the Shoe Shop could be the scene for a song and dance, or a song from the cobbler (years ago it would have been the “Cobblers Song” from Chu Chin Chow, or later “In the Shoemaker’s Shop”, a popular 1950’s song, or even the place for a speciality act.)
One such act was an Ultra Violet (UV) act that involved dancing shoes and boots, always popular for “Puss In Boots”.
It is here that having a “good Fairy” character helps. With her intervention Colin visits a cobblers shop to locate these boots. The Cat is generally “doubled” at this point. In some productions the “crawling” cat and the “Talking Cat” can be played by two actors. If, for example, the cobblers shop has a high counter the “crawling” cat will drag the boots behind the counter, there is a flash, and “Puss In Boots” rises in his place. The cat has transformed magically and NOW he begins to talk.
In Robert Nesbitt’s production at the London Palladium (1962) Dick Emery as “Puss” discovered he could talk:
Puss: “Meee-meee-meee! Mi,mi,mi,mi
He scratches his head and tries a scale
Meee-ow, ow, ow,ow,ow, ow, ow- and WHAT a row! (he whips around)
Who said that?.....(wonderingly) was it me? (he can’t believe it) Children, can I ask you something very, very important? WAS it me really talking then?
Did I speak-talk-utter-did I say?
The cats in flats stay mainly on the mats! I think I’ve got it- by George, I’ve got it!.....If I can talk, perhaps I can sing?...
Come on to the rooftops Maude,
I am here on the slates alone,
Come on to the…. Oh no, I sound like Lena Horne’s brother, Fog Horne!
Perhaps I ought to be a terribly, terribly British cat, actually, old thing, har,har,har..I mean all the way from Caterick and Catford, right across to Katmandhu and the Catskill Mountains…the coolest cat in the
world- children, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen- I am at your service- Mister Puss In Boots!”
In the pantomime Puss is always a swashbuckling swaggering sort of cat. The plot rests on him as he deviously plots and uses his wiles to make people believe his humble master Colin is, in fact, a
Throughout the panto, the traditional comedy scenes will be interspersed. Often the Dame will be the Palace Cook, so a set cooking routine would take place between Dame, comic and possibly the King.
If The King and Queen are comic and Dame, a lot of their comedy “business” will take place together, and if the Broker’s men, or Colin’s two brothers are a double act, the same.
During the plot Puss will repeatedly approach the King offering gifts- a brace of pheasant, a basket of fish, as gifts from his master- The Marquis Of Carabas. Puss has invented this character, and the point is reached when the King wishes to meet this young man (and possible son-in-law) in person.
Hodgson Illustration 1832
The Pool: A Glade in The Forest:
The first nude scene in panto! Hopefully not- but the clever ruse that Puss has planned involves making our hero “grin and bare” it!
Puss tells Colin to remove his clothes and to bathe in a pool in the forest. Puss has discovered the precise time the King and the Princess will be passing by in their carriage. No sooner has Colin removed his peasants clothing, Puss leaps into action.
He stops the Royal carriage wailing that his master, The Marquis Of Carabas was bathing when some ruffians stole all his clothing. The King immediately sends for suitable clothes from the palace, and the “Marquis” is introduced to the Royal family. Like “Cinderella” or Shaw’s “Pygmalion” a poor person can be passed off as someone from a higher social station with the right clothing!
This scene is easier to do with a Male Principal Boy for obvious reasons! When played by a Female Principal Boy the lack of clothing has to be more subtle- “She” is supposed to be a “He” after all!
This scene has in the past also featured a “speciality”. The pool makes an ideal setting to show off one of Curries “Waterfall Cascades”. Hundreds of gallons of water cascade down, while the Principal boy was expected to stand on a bridge and sing very loudly, or else literally he’d be “drowned” out by the noise! In some productions the setting for the pool suddenly became Scotland, as the most popular Curries Waterfall available was “The Bluebells Of Scotland” waterfall, complete with bridge and painted heather clad mountains.
Often the pool would be the end of Act One.
In Act Two Puss deals with the problem of his master’s house.
Having tricked the King into believing Colin is the Marquis of Carabas, he must now extend the deception. Colin and the Princess are very much in love, but he doesn’t have a bean to his name, let alone the castle Puss tells the King he owns.
Outside the Castle:
More comedy routines happen between King, Dame and comics- generally a “Ghost Gag” is placed outside or inside the Castle of the Ogre. Puss has learned that the wicked Ogre (sometimes even a wicked Magician) is terrorising the area. Puss (and often Colin) gain acess to the Ogre’s Lair.
Puss In Boots Bristol Old Vic. 1948.
l-r John Neville, Stuart Burge, Teddy Burnham, Pam Alison, Newton Blick, Joan White, Gudrun Ure, Dilys Laye
INSIDE THE CASTLE:
Upon finding Puss in his Castle, the Ogre intends to eat him up. Puss, King of con-men, encourages the Ogre to boast of his treasure, and its whereabouts. The Ogre boasts that he is a powerful magician, and can transform himself into any animal.
To test this, Puss encourages him to do this trick, and is lucky to escape with his life when the Ogre instantly transforms himself into a Lion. In some versions he might also become a Gorilla, or a similar creature.
In panto, one of the devices used for this “transformation” is the “double Throne”.
The Actor playing the Ogre sits on a throne with a backing . The Throne is on a revolve. On the other side is an identical throne, with another actor dressed as the Lion. The Pyro flash goes off, the lights black-out for a few seconds as the throne revolves, and now a Lion is sitting where the oversized Ogre was a few seconds before.
When the Lion has chased Puss, the actor returns to the throne, and the process is repeated- the Ogre is once again revealed.
Puss then challenges the Ogre, telling him it is probably quite easy to become a large creature, the really impossible trick would be to change into something really small.. like-a mouse for example. The Ogre falls for the trick, and boasts this is even easier- behold!
This part is not as effective as the “lion” transformation. Some productions have had a small mouse prop on a wire (not easy to set up with a revolving throne), puss then chases the mouse around the stage, catches it (palms it) and pretends to eat it. Sometimes the wire has been pre-threaded through the proscenium arch, with thin “Maribout” boa attached. It can then snake around and across the Prosc Arch very quickly. This device is known as a “Whiffumpuff”!
A more popular version (that needs a little imagination from the audience) involves a “follow Spot”, and a very skilled operator in the lighting box. When the throne revolves it is empty. The follow spot is irised down to a small glow on the throne, and Puss chases the spotlight around the stage. When captured in his hands it glows, then, as Puss pops “the Mouse” into his mouth, the spot is turned off!
Once Puss has eaten the Ogre, the treasure is revealed to Colin. Through Puss’s deception, His Master now has a Castle, a fortune, and asks the King for His daughter’s hand in marriage. The other characters join in a celebration, often a full song and dance number, followed by the songsheet.
Often in “Puss In Boots” Puss will be rewarded (unlike in the original tale) and there might well be a “Spot” for Puss- a song and dance routine “On The Rooftops”, or “On The Tiles” with the chorus all dressed as cats. This is Puss’s big night out!
The Pantomime ends with the Royal Marriage of Colin to the Princess, and the finale walkdown.
Click to Enlarge
Illustrations by Hilda Boswell
Some other links of interest
http://www.pussinboots.ca/download Fun Stuff
http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/fabled/index.html Fabled Felines
CREDITS FOR SOME INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE
"The Classic Fairy Tales" by Iona and Peter Opie
'I Scream for Ice Cream!' by Gyles Brandreth
'The Encyclopaedia of Pantomime' by David Pickering
This page was last updated 22nd August 2010