Not long ago, Nancy Friedman alerted me to the use of “Panto” in her native San Francisco. For the uninitiated, in the words of the Theatre-Britain website, “A panto is a traditional fairy tale complete with songs, dances, jokes, exaggerated characters and lots of audience participation. The British love a good panto. In fact the nation has been mad on it ever since the actor manager John Rich introduced it in 1717.” (Note to self: check “mad on it.”)
Now, the term used back in 1717 was “pantomime”; according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the shortened form “panto” didn’t appear till 1852. “Panto” now predominates and emerges (as Theatre-Britain neglected to note) in the Christmas season. And speak of the devil, here’s a current offering of a troupe near me:
The doing of pantos by American companies is a kind of cultural Britishism, but I am inclined not to view either “panto” or “pantomime” as a NOOB, for the simple reason that there isn’t any alternative word for that thing.