Buttons (pantomime)

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Buttons is the name of a character in the Cinderella pantomime. Buttons is the servant of Cinderella's father, Baron Hardup, and is Cinderella's friend. He is often in love with Cinderella and is constantly trying to express his feelings to her, only for her to remain unaware of his love for her or she simply replies she loves him only as the brother she never had.

Buttons is a strong comedy part and tells many jokes to keep the audience amused and to cheer up the mistreated Cinderella. Often these jokes are insults directed at Cinderella's two ugly sisters, either to their faces or behind their backs and infuriating them. When Cinderella marries Prince Charming, Buttons is at first upset she does not love him, but soon grows happy for her and goes to live with her at the palace. Often he is best man at her wedding. In other versions he too finds love with another female character, usually the fairy godmother's attendant. In Stuart Paterson's Christmas play, "Cinderella", based on the panto, Cinderella does not marry the handsome Prince, a vain, spoilt brat, but marries Callum the kitchen boy, the Buttons figure in this version of the story. Callum was enslaved as a kitchen boy by the King, Cinderella's father, after a war with a neighbouring kingdom; Callum is the prince of that kingdom.

He is often dressed in a traditional red or blue bellboy's costume with polished buttons down his front and a pillbox hat. Before he gained his set name, he was called Chips or Pedro. The name Buttons came from the nickname given to Victorian pageboys, whose costume the pantomime character wears. It is interesting to note that the Spanish name for an office bellboy is "botones".

During the mid-1950s, Danny Kaye visited Australia, where he played the part of "Buttons" in a Cinderella pantomime in Sydney.