Every year during the holiday season in the old country, families flock to theatres across the British Isles to see their favorite pop stars and comedians don breeches and fake bosoms to tell fractured fairytales with colorful costumes, musical mayhem, corny jokes and topical tidbits. Silliness, slapstick and verbal audience participation are all hallmarks of a beloved tradition that goes back many generations.
Fortunately, Berkshire audiences don’t have to travel across the pond to enjoy a holiday visit to the Panto. Just hop over the border to Columbia County, N.Y. and let the PantoLoons at Ghent Playhouse near Chatham provide a feast of fanciful entertainment fit for a Brit!
For more than a dozen years, the company has staged stories ranging from Cinderella to Aladdin. This year it’s the turn of the "men" of Sher wood Forest to take center stage in "Robin Hood: Fifty Shades of Green," with a mash-up of the heroic tale of medieval "wealth redistribution" and the bawdy bestseller (in this family-friendly show, any colorful asides are designed to go right over the heads of youngsters).
The Panto opens Friday and runs through Dec. 9. Showtimes are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays, with an extra matinee at 5 p.m. this Saturday. Tickets are $18 for adults, and $10 for children under 12. Information: www.
ghentplayhouse.org, (800) 838-3006.
Norman Rockwell Museum
This weekend, the popular Stock bridge landmark will fill with legendary superheroes when the Rock well celebrates its latest exhibit "Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross" with a Family Festival Day from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The exhibit highlights original artwork by Ross, a superstar artist in the comic book field, along with animated cartoons, interactive computer stations, artist props and models, and some of the early images Ross created in his formative years.
His illustrations will spring to life with guest appearances by a slew of superheroes including Batman and Batgirl, Superman and Supergirl, and the web spinning wonder, Spider-man.
As part of the afternoon’s activities, local actress Anne Undeland will give a spirited reading of stories about inspirational heroes, while eclectic comic-book illustrator Bob McLeod will share excerpts from his children’s early reader book, "Superhero ABC," featuring such kooky kid-friendly characters as Bubble-Man and Laughing Lass.
Children can come dressed as their favorite comic book character and tap into their inner artist by creating custom superheroes for display in the creativity center.
All activities and some tasty treats are included in regular admission of $16 for adults, $5 for youth aged 6 to 18 and free for ages 5 and under. Information: www.nrm.org (413) 298-4100.
On Saturday, while the rest of the world is battling the shopping crowds, take a breather and gather up the family for some special holiday screenings of classic films at local cinemas.
A long-standing annual tradition continues at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington with "The Wizard of Oz," a rare opportunity to see the ageless adventures of Dorothy and Toto on the big screen at 4 and 7 p.m.
The beloved 1939 musical has fired the imaginations of generations of children with its memorable characters, catchy songs and magical settings. Tickets are $6. Information: (413) 528-0100, www.mahaiwe.org.
Over in Columbia County, N.Y., at 4 p.m. at the historic Crandell Theatre in Chatham, follow the daring exploits of archeologist Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as he outwits villains (and that iconic rolling boulder) and saves the day -- and civilization.
Everyone is invited to come dressed as their favorite character, such as heroine Marion Ravenwood, played in the movie by local celebrity and textile artist Karen Allen. Tickets are pegged at the original 1981 price of $2.50. Information: (518) 392-3331, www.
And Williamstown’s Images Cin ema gets in on the act at 2 p.m. with a free holiday screening of the 1990 comedy "Home Alone."
Macaulay Culkin, in his breakout role, plays a beleaguered 8-year-old boy who battles bumbling burglars after he is left behind by his forgetful family when they head off to Paris, in a film filled with fast-paced frolics and festive cheer. Information: (413) 458-5612, www.imagescinema.org.