"The inventor of that most exquisite entertainment, called the English pantomime"

Pantomime poster 1890
Public DomainPantomime poster 1890 - Credit: F. Warne & Co.
A pantomime is a musical-comedy, usually performed over the Christmas period.  It originated in Ancient Greece, performed by a group who 'imitated all,' accompanied by sung narrative and music.  It provided entertainment for common people, embracing comedy, tragedy and sex, and was looked down upon by the literary elite. 

It first arrived in England in the Restoration period (from 1660), as something to entertain the audience between opera pieces.  It gained great popularity from 1717, on the basis of productions by actor and manager John Rich. 

Pantomime continues to be a popular form of theatre, combining song, dance, slapstick and silliness, cross-dressing, topical references, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo.