Back in Roman times, a pantomime was a performance by one person, who mimed all the parts in a mythological story.
In 18th century England, a pantomime was still silent, but with a full cast of actors and dancers. At that time only certain theatres known as “Theatre Royals” were allowed to present proper plays with words.
So “music houses” such as Sadler’s Wells staged elaborate musical pantomimes with the lovers Harlequin and Columbine and clowns.
It was in the 1840’s that what we now think of as traditional pantomime was established.
A lavish Christmas entertainment for children based loosely on a fairy story, with the Principal Boy acted by a woman, the Dame by a man and somewhere along the way a transformation scene from earth to fairyland, such as the Prince’s palace to Cinderella’s hovel.