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New exhibition captures life behind the scenes at Cinderella

Approved by ATG's PR & Communications Officer, David Bradbury

Photographs taken over two days backstage at the Opera House Manchester during the 2011 pantomime season are on display until June 30 as part of Chorlton Arts Festival.

The rarely-seen, off-stage world of pantomime is captured in a new photography exhibition.

Professional photographer Phil Tragen spent two days backstage at the Opera House, Manchester during last December’s run of Cinderella, taking a set of stunning candid shots, which are on display now until the end of June as part of Chorlton Arts Festival.

Phil also took the official production images of Cinderella, meaning he has taken photos of the panto from both sides of the curtain, revealing the dramatic and often poignant contrast between what happens on stage – loud, over the top and colourful - and the unseen, more mellow moments away from the eyes of the audiences.

From Ugly Sisters putting on their make-up in their dressing room to tiny Shetland ponies waiting in the wings for their big moment, Phil’s photos offer a rarely-seen glimpse into the off-stage world of panto.

Phil said: 'I’ve often been interested in learning about the people who do unusual things for a living, and on that front there was so much to choose from at the panto. Being around pantomime dames, musicians and dancers in strange costumes, and realising they do it six days a week for months on end really changes your assessment of what’s normal.

'I wanted to illustrate that idea in the pictures, the strangeness and normalcy of what they do, and celebrate those of us that do these unconventional things for a living. My aim was to try and see everything you couldn’t see from the stalls – the music pit, the action in the wings, the makeup, and how the performers behave when they’re not on stage.

'I wouldn’t have got these photos without the backing of First Family Entertainment and the Opera House so I appreciate them being open to the idea and would like to say thanks for their faith in me!'

Sarah Bleasdale, general manager of the Opera House, said: 'Cinderella was a fabulous panto that audiences adored. Phil’s photos have captured everything that make this unique form of entertainment so special. We wish him all the very best for his exhibition.'

Listing information:

Electrik bar, Wilbraham Road, Chorlton
Until Saturday 30 June