Chanukah may be six months away, but a team of Jewish creatives are already gearing up to put on a festive show that they are billing as London’s first professional Jewish pantomime.
Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Pig will star the eponymous cloaked heroine and her bubbe battling against a threatening hog.
The production, which will be performed at Finchley’s JW3 venue, will also feature classic sing-alongs and music director Josh Middleton playing modern Jewish pop alongside traditional klezmer on stage with a three-piece band.
The play has been written by Nick Cassenbaum, a self-described “pickle enthusiast” who previously created and starred in Bubble Schmeisis – a one-man Edinburgh Fringe show about a schvitz in Canning Town.
Set during Chanukah, the panto will see Red Riding Hood face a relatable contemporary struggle as her village tries to find an energy source at a reasonable price.
Although it is being marketed as a first-of-its kind production, other Jewish pantomimes have been staged in the UK before, albeit on a smaller scale.
In 2018, comedian Mark Meier unveiled his Jewish take on the Cinderella in 2018.
Named Shminderella, the pantomime featured a pair of "ugly sisters" who frequented Brent Cross.
Meier, who is seeking funding in order to revive the show, told the JC: "I know I’m biased, but it went down incredibly well."
Georgia Green, who will direct the JW3 Red Riding Hood production, said: “I’m so excited to bring this Chanukah panto genre into existence.
“I loved panto as a child and my work pushes for a big relationship with the audience.”
William Galinsky, JW3 programming director, said pantomime was one of the “oldest and best-loved” British traditions.
“[It is] one of the few times a year people young and old come together to experience the joys of the theatre,” he said.
“The Jewish community has a long history of theatre and now is the time we brought those two traditions together for London’s first Jewish panto.
“JW3, as the home of Jewish culture, is uniquely positioned to bring together the best in Jewish theatre talent to put on a traditional panto that has everything you know and love, with a JW3 twist.
“This Chanukah we want to bring some much-needed light to the world. I am sure, by the end of the show, when you think about where your troubles are, your only response will be ‘They’re behind you!’”