B-list U.S. Actors Discover British Pantomime

Watch out, Las Vegas: there's a new circuit for washed-up U.S. stars. British pantomime—a vaudevillian holiday ritual of cross-dressing, camp villains and audience participation—has long been a mainstay for broke U.K. actors. But the "pantos" have started to draw aging American B-listers to their ranks as well. In 2008, for example, one could catch Henry Winkler ("The Fonz"), Paul Michael Glaser (the first half of Starsky and Hutch), Steve Guttenberg ("Police Academy") and Stefanie Powers (from the '80s sitcom "Hart to Hart") on the panto stage. Even Mickey Rooney gets in on the act as Cinderella's father, Baron Hardup, in Bristol.

Pantomime producers say L.A. actors are eager to participate in the stage form. Kevin Wood, chief executive of First Family Productions, the U.K.'s biggest pantomime production company, says that alumni are a big recruiting tool: the Fonz "goes around telling people how brilliant it is." Wood is even planning to bring panto to the U.S. next year. Who needs "The Nutcracker" when you've got slapstick?