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Aladdin- Brick Lane 2018



Tuesday 16th January 2018

Welcome back to the world of  Grown Ups Pantomime!

Once again, Ladies and Gentlemen (as they say in The Good Old Days repeated on BBC4 now and then) we return to this sumptuous palace of varieties in East London’s Silvertown, on The North Woolwich Road for a journey into Pantoland that extends to March 3rd and, possibly beyond!

At this moment in time the Adult Pantomime “Aladdin” is all but totally sold out. By the end of this week I believe there will be nothing left for Matinee tea panto, for Panto Lunches and for the Evening shows. It is a tribute to Vincent Hayes and his hard working staff and cast that this show has added extra dates, and they have sold out!


David Phipps-Davis, Nigel Ellacott, Andrew Robley & Vincent Hayes

I will be keeping my eye on any additional shows that might mean there is room for fun and frolics in Old Peking, but in the meantime I will be keeping my blog going at least twice a week right through until we close.


ALADDIN – Meet The Cast!

The show opens on Wednesday the  24th January, running through to March 3rd,  mostly one show a day with the odd two performances on Saturdays in March.

For those new to the BLMH Blog , I will be reporting news and taking pictures backstage, adding production photos from this gem of a building, and also adding some Music Hall articles as we go along. This is my fifth year here at Brick Lane- with a “Dick Whittington”, A “Babes In The Wood” and a “Jack and The Beanstalk” and a  “Sleeping Beauty” under my belt.

For newcomers to the Blog- yes, Brick Lane Music Hall is NOT in Brick Lane- it is the third creation of Vincent Hayes since his first two buildings in Brick Lane itself, and then nearby Curtain Row presented Pantomimes after Christmas, thus allowing those of us in a panto to finish, draw a deep breath, and start another one!


Paul James & Andrew Phipps-Davis

Rehearsals begin today: Tuesday 16th January. The assembled cast as follows!

Aladdin is played in true traditional style by Lucy Reed as Principal Boy, with The Widow Twankey played by Andrew Robley.

Wishee Washee is Vincent Hayes, joined as usual by Paul James as The Emperor and Abanazar is played by David Phipps-Davis making his debut appearance here.

Shelby Morgan is Principal Girl- The Princess So-Shy, with The Genie played by Ben Goffe. The Villagers and our talented ensemble are Sam Sadler, Jordan Langford and Nathan Lodge. I-Nigel Ellacott– will be giving my Slave Of The Ring this year, with all the double entendres that goes with it!


Co-ordinating all of this will be BLMH Manager and production desaigner Zara Kattan putting together rehearsal schedules, costumes, costume fitting and properties over this coming week, aided in the costume front by Frank Kershaw, who will be making and fitting during the week.

My costumes I have brough with me- And the make-up and wigs and shoes I brought with me from the last night at High Wycombe. My costumes are with Qdos at the moment, and they will be returning to Ilford along with Andrew Ryan’s costumes in a week or so. I brought everything I needed, and I’ll bring them here on Friday. We dress rehearse next Tuesday.

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My costumes awaiting additions!

During this blog I’ll get the chance to introduce everyone here at BLMH over the next few weeks, and also feature some of our visitors at the same time! Rehearsals today began for the Singers and the ensemble joining our Music Director Tom Carradine and Martin Layzelle at 10am, with the rest of us joining at 10.30 for a cup of tea, a quick catch up on what’s been happening in pantoland and in Music Hall Land before a read through of the script at 11am.


Scenic artist Chris Floyd worked with his assistants transforming the stage into Old Peking, and props started appearing along with some of the finale costumes. Anthony Friggens– in charge of sound and lighting checked out lighting and scenery ready for spending the rest of the week focussing the  rather sophisticated LED lighting array.He will be joined by designer Kevin Roach later in the week.

All of us sat around one of the vast tables in the Music Hall auditorium, and went throughg  a script that is never “set in stone”. Over the next few hours and days and even weeks it will evolve, it will enlarge, it will be cut and it will be honed to fit the individual talents and the style of this very unique place of entertainment. More of a think tank than a rehearsal at times!

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A peek preview of David as Abanazar

While we worked on script bits in the auditorium, Tom and  Martin ran through numbers in the Green Room , followed by the Long table with lunch as supplied by Brick Lane’s chef, Saleem- aways a highlight!


Tom and the boys in The Green Room

Short afternoon for me, as it was a  music call, and I have only one shared number to worry about, so not long after Iunch I was headed for the Docklands Light Railway, heading home.

Call tomorrow is at 10.30 for music and the start of the blocking of scenes.



The Final Show! Farewell!


With The Jackie Palmer Blue Team

Hard to believe, but today was our final show. The time has flown, and the energy never flagged right up to the end. We all agreed we could do another two weeks with ease!


The Blue Team getting ready for the final two performances.

Visitors today included Laura Barrocliff and her daughter, Georgia. Laura was marketing at E&B Pantomimes with Lara O’Connor, and is now with Imagine Theatre – so lovely to have met up with both Laura and Lara from the Paul Elliott days here at The Swan, Wycombe!



The day flew by, as last days always do. A final game of tuggy with Sully and Winter, a last interval chat with the “Interval” clan in Dressing Room A, and a flurry of pre-packing ready for the last show.


What a lot of lovely memories!

Delighted to see my Brother Vivyan, Owen Smith and Isobel Hurll at the last show, and to get a lift back to East London via the crowded streets of London- everyone queuing on the bridges to watch the fireworks due at midnight along the Thames.

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I Scream For Ice Cream!

The last show was suberb, with a hugely appreciate audience. Lizzy, Clare and Phil helped pack up my costumes, Ice cream cone and Baked Bean Can as we went, so that by the final curtain everything was packed and ready. The set stood quiet, awaiting a get-out on Tuesday. Always sad to see a finale set unlit and empty!


We mostly all said our goodbyes during the interval, as everyone dashes off as soon as the curtain falls, and heads for parties, or long journeys home. In a day Ashleigh will be on a plane for South Africa, and warm weather, helping out with animals on a reserve. Lizzy leaves me and the joys of our tiny Quick Change room and takes over at Wimbledon pantomime for the next two weeks. I have two weeks before starting “Aladdin” rehearsals for Brick Lane Music Hall- that takes me to March 9th or later!


Farewell from The Wycombe Swan!

Here we all are in the final interval. It has really been a joy. We’ve all got on like houses on fire, and enjoyed performing together and enjoying the odd night out together over the past four/five weeks. A finer Crew you couldnt not wish to work with, superb Qdos Stage Management and Wardrobe team, and a very lovely staff here at the Swan from Stage Door to Marketing, Box Office and Front Of House. A very big thank you from all of us to Nicola,and her team, Barney & his band, and especially to Katherine for choreography- and the biggest thank you to Chris Jarvis- for a fantastic show!

Thank you all for a lovely “Jack and The Beanstalk” at The Wycombe Swan! Goodbye from all of us. Hope you enjoyed the blog- let me know if you did!

Watch This Space for the Brick Lane Music Hall Blog coming shortly!


Penultimate Panto!


Two shows today and sadly, only two shows left. This Panto run of just over forty performances will be done and dusted by 7.30pm tomorrow, New Year’s Eve!

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Sam, Nigel & Dan with Clare and Lizzy

The shows were great today with our customary High Energy. We had visits backstage from Qdos’s Adrian LeSurf and Mark Sherwood, and I enjoyed a very jolly “between Shows” chat with Terry Powell in the dressing room, talking all things Panto.

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Everyone had a great time at the party and apparently a club later, and it is with great sadness that bit by bit the dressing rooms are getting bare, as folk take stuff back with them ready for tomorrow’s big pack.

I’ve stripped my room to the bare minimum, and the skips and boxes and rail are ready for the full pack during the second show tomorrow.



Sad news that Swansea Panto had to cancel two shows today, due to some flooding that affected the orchestra pit and stage. Hopefully all will be sorted by tomorrow. I told my Brother this news. He recalled when he was House Manager over forty five years ago a similar event at Swansea Grand, and veteran Dame Billy Wells had his costumes soaked.


So tomorrow will be a whirlwind of packing and then, like Cinderella’s coach, the magic stops at 7.30pm. I will miss my mates in pantoland- the interval get-togethers, the drinks after the show and playing with Sully, Eliza and Winter in my dressing room for the odd “mad Half Hour”! Mostly, I will miss this gorgeous cast crew and show.


Ashleigh is off to work with Animals in South Africa, Simon heads off abroad for work, Chris to the sunshine and Im off to spend a week in Nottingham with Andrew Ryan, Sherrie Hewson and Ben Nickless having a busmans panto holiday before I start my next venture- Brick Lane’s “Aladdin”- The Grown Ups Version!

Panto Party Friday 29th


Here we are in the matinee after a visit by Nick Thomas and his wife Sandra to the show. Nick is Chairman of Qdos, and the Swan is one of his theatres. It was a great house, packed and responsive. He left us heading for Richmond and Christopher Biggins!


Visitors today included my mate Rusty Goffe and Sarah- Rusty and I have done a few “Brick Lane” pantomimes together, and this year I’ll be working with son Ben in the Brick Lane Panto “Aladdin” until early March! Lovely to see this legend of Star Wars, Willow,Harry Potter and Willy Wonka along with Sarah. Sarah taught dancer Ollie at Italia Conti. A small world isn’t it?


Here we are with the Great British Panto Awards sign!

Had a visit from Daniel Dawson- he’s touring the country seeing as many pantomimes as possible, and this year will be holding the awards in Wimbledon in the Spring. Great to see him again for a catch up and look forward to the Wimbledon Event!

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After the second show we had our “end of term” panto party, in the town hall next door to the theatre. A good chance to get everyone together before all the packing starts. Here are a few photos of the night.

Friday 28th December


Panto Pooches on Parade!

Always great to have a doggy daily visit when Ashleigh unleashes the hounds into my dressing room for a game of tuggy toy and a cuddle! At the moment it is really cold out in the street and backstage, so the combination of furry rug and furry dog is blissful! Here’s Winter and Sully enjoying a break backstage today!


8pm on Friday 29th. BBC 2 a great documentary with some never before seen cine film footage taken by Eric Morecambe backstage at a pantomime in the 1950’s.

I’ve seen this footage when I was doing some cut away shots for this programme- so look out for me making a brief appearance, and set your telly to record some amazing backstage glimpses filmed by Eric himself!

We did this in the autumn, and I thoroughly enjoyed coming up with some of the archive material- posters and programmes- from Eric & Ernies earliest pantomime appearances, so it was very jolly to be asked to contribute to the programme as a Talking Head!


Today two packed houses, and a great set ofaudiences- it does give you a lift when the audience is fiesty!Tomorrow is our Panto Party after the second show. Nearly timeto pack!!



Out Of The Mouths of Babes!


Here’s The Red Team who finished yesterday.

Chaperone Claire very kindly asked if the team of juves would let me have a few comments on their time in “Jack & The Beanstalk”- and the bribes seem to have have worked as at least two liked Dame Trott The Best!  Here are a few of the comments:

“From Genevive: “I can’t wait to get to the theatre. I think about it all morning before I get there…I like seeing the smiles in the audience. The theatre is my second home. I love the Dame she is soooo funny!”

(obviously this young lady has great taste!)


George says: “This panto is amazing and the cast are great and really kind.. we have lots of fun..I really like Simon Webbe, and the dancers are great and it makes us smile”

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May & Ellie: “Our favourite dance is Rock & Roll, out favourite character is Fleshcreep.. he is funny and he’s good, but bad!”

Lewis says: “I love panto because it’s really jolly and you get to interact with the audience….”


Simone: My favourite dance is Steal Your Rock And Roll. It always leaves me smiling”

Just a few edited comments from our Juveniles- Thanks for that Red Team!


Boxing Day’s Secret Santa!


Saying Farewell to one team of The Jackie Palmer Juveniles

Here we are saying goodbye to one of our great teams of children- we are all pretty in pink for the Act One Finale!  I will be adding some of the childrens thoughts on being in the panto soon- they’ve written up a great collection of memories in between their many entrances!

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After everyone arrived from their Christmas destinations, and we did the very rowdy matinee, we had a bring your bits buffet between shows at Stage Door.

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Tradition decrees Boxing Day in Pantoland is “Secret Santa” time! This is our onstage unwrapping before the 7pm show. We all did very well indeed, and a really festive way to spend your working Boxing Day!




Back to work. Two great houses packed to the upper circle, and a very good couple of shows in this our final week.