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Tuesday 10th Dec: Back To School!

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Tuesday 10th December

For some, this was their very first experience of a 10am Full house – full of just school children en masse! I’ve got used to it here at Venue Cymru over the years, but its still THE most amazing thing to hear 1,500 screaming children in the Ghost Gag, and the excitement when the poor male teacher gets picked to be The Queen’s new boyfriend. You can’t beat that!

A high energy performance from both cast and audience that we’ll be continuing each day this week- 10am and 1.30pm shows. I love them- I’m used to my Panto Roadshow performances at 10am and 1.30pm anyway, and I really enjoy having “a life” after the panto in the evenings, boosting the local economy!

Both shows were great- a mix of pensioners and sc

3e836fc9-48d8-4b0e-9687-1a4d70378e73hool children second house, so Sherrie and I were able to pop in some of our evening gags, while Kieran had the children in the palm of Dave The Dinosaur’s paw! Jamie got booed to beyond and Adam and Harriet were cheered as should be. It was a fun two performances.

There are a couple of reviews: One online the other from the Pioneer Newpaper. Here are the links:

https://number9reviews.blogspot.com/2019/12/pantomime-review-sleeping-beauty-venue.html

Sleeping Beauty at Venue Cymru with Sherrie Hewson is full of Festive Laughs – Review

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We’re bonding now, Cast and Crew and Creatives, and it is a very jolly atmosphere. Hoorah!

Yesterday we celebrated Will’s (Sound Number 1 )Birthday, followed by an early night, it being a school night. – A cake, a few glasses and a Chinese- a great night!

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Tonight, the chance of a proper meal again (since we were out of the building by 4pm- so it’s up the Empire for round Two of lovely food.

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The weather is atrocious! Gales and heavy rain. The theatre roof was banging and the whistling effects rivalled the Ghost Gag at times. The children LOVED the Haunted Bedroom today. You cannot EVER beat the simplicity of The humble Ghost Gag. That is why I named this website twenty years ago- it is the very heart and soul of Pantomime. As old as time, as effective now as it was to the Edwardians. Long may it be included in Pantomimes everywhere!

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The Opening Shows!

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Saturday & Sunday 7th-8th December 2019

Dress rehearsals and technical rehearsals behind us- Oh Yes They Are! It’s opening day!

This being my 46th Panto (I believe) you’d think the first day nerves would have faded into the ether, but I’m afraid they are always there. That slightly scary fear of the unknown, the wondering if you’ll remember all the  lines, and if so, in the correct order, and MOST definately the “Will I get laughs!” All of that leads to the relief you get after the first (but mostly the second) show when it all goes to plan. Director John Peyton must feel that and more, as he watches his creation, and Adam Choreographer as he sees the audience enjoying his staging.

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Sut Mae Heddiw! Hello Llandudno- we’re open!

The first show had a lot of children in. Over a 1,000 in the audience, and a great reaction. Sherrie and I were tuned to the reactions, and keeping in mind that the ratio of Adult to young children might be different this evening, and some of the gags might be picked up . As it turned out the evening audience were well up for it, and Sherrie’s style of mayhem and madness (possibly developed way back in “Russ Abbot’s Madhouse” on TV came to the fore!

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Life in the Castle is all change- well, costume wise most definately!

Here’s our first online review:

https://blazingminds.co.uk › sleeping-beauty-venue-cymru-review
The official photographs from press night are not out yet, so the ones on this blog are taken from the wings, and we look forward to seeing the posh one very shortly!
A great feeling of relief all round after the show opened, and a great feeling of pride in the hard work- and skill- that has gone into the production values, from John and Adam staging and directing, to Simon, Steve and Neil in the orchestra pit, Justin, Will, Joe and the Twins for the lights, sound and effects-our own Stage Management Team, The Juveniles from Pearl Shaw, Chaperones, amazing stage crew headed by Keith- and of course wardrobe – often the busiest role in Panto with Rachel and Bethan and their Wardrobe crew. Not forgetting Rich, Lucy & Emma and Theatre Manager Sarah for hosting us here at VC.
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The Cast and Creatives- Adam & John.

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My special guest visitor Andrew Ryan with Sarah Ecob, Theatre Manager

Lovely to see Andrew (Ryan) here for the opening. He’s just finished directing “Beauty & The Beast” for Qdos at Belfast Opera House, and goes from here to start rehearsals for “Snow White” at The Birmingham Hippodrome- Playing The Nurse! A busy month for him!

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Sundays show was a bit early- 11am! We were bright and bushy tailed, and then the slightly more mature cast members retired to a cup a soup and a sleep before the 3pm performance. We said goodbye to Adam, John and David Morgan, and feasted en mass at The Cottage Loaf after the show. First proper hot meal since Thursday!

Day off today (Monday). I’ve moved hotels as The Can Y Bae is now closed, Sherrie has moved and Adam has moved into his apartment. A well earned day off!

Technical into Dress Rehearsals

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Thursday 4th December 2019

A morning off to get settled and sorted and get ones socks washed!

Moved into the dressing room which will get sorted out over the next couple of days. I only have two costumes in the room, as everything else is in The Quick Change area. Thanks to the herculean efforts of Keith and the lads on the crew, the Quick Change is vast- Biggest room I think I’ve had, carpeted, lit and mirrored! Thank you all SO much!

Today we started the technical rehearsals that will continue  into Friday. This involves lighting, pyros, scene changes and, since we started with costumes from the off, costume changes. All in all a long winding journey .Breaks for lunch and dinner- Sherrie and I stay in and, being neighbours in the Dressing Rooms watched “Talking Pictures” on the TV  in between- can’t beat a bit of old ‘50’s drama between shows!

I’m not wearing make-up for the technicals- and running through costume changes with Bethan from Wardrobe, who is dressing me, we had enough time between stage entrances to work everything out. Plenty of time.

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Lighting rehearsals for Caraboss’s Lair

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David Morgan Production Manager. Rory lighting designer  and the Production Team

I have mislaid my bum. I remember packing it- and I’m afraid I can’t find it anywhere. I did come across a random stuffed seagull in my boxes (imitation I hasten to add) so that has now been fixed to the Giant Picnic Hamper I wear top of Act Two. No Bum.

The set I recall from our last “Sleeping Beauty” here at VC, that show had Vicki Entwistle and Brendon off the Coach Trip- Brendan Sheering. John Evans was our Muddles and he opens the same time as us this year in Liverpool. Good Luck John!

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By 10pm we had got to the scene where “Beauty” (Harriet) is woken by “Love’s true kiss delivered by Adam (Prince) and stopped there for the night. Price, Nurse and Queen retired to Imperial Hotel for a tiny drink (and our own sandwiches secreted in a rucksack- well they’d stopped serving food!) and then to bed- call for Adam tomorrow is 9.30am to fight a scary creature. As you do.

Friday -Tech and Two Full Dress Runs

Full make up and costume for the Dress Runs, with Document Conwy fabulous photographer Paul Sampson in to take pictures of the show. Can’t wait to share them on this blog!

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Here she is Boys! Queen Myfanwy has arrived. In the fabulous Terry Parsons designed “Bustle” dress that belonged to Danny La Rue from Plymouth “Mother Goose”. Its so lovely that in the V&A Museum at this moment Peter Robbins & Nigel Ellacott’s Ball Gowns are in a display case next to a Danny Frock that was also created for Plymouth- and Dan’s frock is getting an airing here at Llandudno!

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Bethan from wardrobe dressing me, and our Quick Change in its early unfinished phase!

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The Dressing Room

Good News. My Bum turned up! It was secreted under Sherrie Hewsons fluffy slippers in the Quick Change room. Normal service will now continue.

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Nurse Temple Savage at your service!

So today we ran the show twice, had notes, and did a technical catch-up in the morning. Long day- we open tomorrow. Loads of production shots will be following throughout this blog, as well as backstage snapshots!

 

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A tribute to John Inman. My spin on John’s lovely Belisha Beacon costume. It does stop traffic!

We will emerge tomorrow from our two shows at 2pm and 7pm and a party at Y Review Restaurant after the show!

 

Farewell Rehearsal Room!

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Today we had our last sessions in the brand new rehearsal rooms at VC. We did a run through in the morning, and then a second run through in the afternoon. More props are being added by Robert and Kyla as we go along, as they are being opened after arriving in the trucks.

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The two runs are very helpful to get the running order of scenes into the head. We were joined in the second run-through by Marketing Dept, Lucy, Emma and Tony. We finished rehearsing at about 5.30pm. Now my time begins- tomorrow is the first Technical rehearsal, and I need to sort out my costumes into the Quick Change area!

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Harriet, Adam & Kieran. Robert our Technical ASM

Before reaching the stage time to wish Aidi Jones from the Technical department of VC a very Happy Birthday- with my prop cake from the Picnic Basket-on a long day fitting up a panto its better than no cake! Great to be working with The VC crew once again!

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Happy Birthday Aidi!

With the help of Bethan from Wardrobe the rails and boxes were unpacked, brought into the quick change area- Thanks Keith & the lads who created this, my biggest Quick Change area to date! Bethan & I have got the costumes and wigs in the room, plus shoes and sorted out some accessories. Tomorrow I don’t think I will be required in costume until around 6pm, so that gives us plenty of time to put them in show order, arrange things that need pre-setting and running through the logistics of the changes with Bethan who will be dressing me.

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Yes- after a long day- I left the Theatre at 9.15pm there was a reward- Handcrafted Gin from The Great Orme- Rhubarb & Mint. When in Gwalia………..

Call 1pm tomorrow. Visit to Launderette \10am. It is all glamour……….!

Running Through

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Arrived at the Theatre this morning 10am to see the Sherrie -Mobile parked by one of several gigantic trucks unloading scenery and lighting equipment into the dock doors.

John worked through some of the scenes we wanted to polish today, while Adam Choreographer worked with the Ensemble next door. We ran the Haunted Bedroom again, as it has a lot of sound cues that need to be spot on, and so its good to know where they are- This has a routine involving a musical instrument, and rather splendidly Kieran can actually play it for real. So far I know Adam (Baker) and I play Piano, as well as Simon obviously, and Kieran plays brass- we have the makings of a Boy Band here!

A photo just to prove I’m in the show! I’m always taking the photos!

During rehearsals had a very quick “Hello” to our musicians Neil Rowland and Steve Brickley- they did a band call with Simon today- good to see the lads again, and looking forward to Quiz Night at The King’s Head next week once we’ve opened!

In the afternoon we ran the show again. A nice feeling to just get it underway, and another run through “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” which is frantic and needs rehearsing to make it safe and secure. Practice makes perfect.

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X Marks the spot! THIS is where the Quick Change area will be built!

I ventured backstage, and great to meet up again with some of Venue Cymru’s amazing crew- Aidi Jones, Steve Cridge and company were just breaking for an hour, so I took the opportunity to take a look at some of our scenery which is being constructed on this vast stage.

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Behind The Scenes- The first shot on this blog!

There’s a lot of scenery. The wardrobe is stuffed with costumes. My costumes have all arrived and are stored in the lift at the moment (a lift the size of a large truck) and I hope to get at them tomorrow.

Left the Venue and had a meal with Adam and Sherrie at a local pub, and discovering, as you do in this business, what theatre folk we have in common. As we start to get to know each other day by day we find how many people we all jointly know, and that’s what it makes it such a small theatrical world.

We were in Fairyland in our rehearsal room when, through the high windows we were treated to some REAL magic. The most glorious red sunset over Mount Snowdon. It actually stopped our show. This picture does not do it justice, but it was taken balancing on a chair against a very high window! It was MUCH redder than this!

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Called at 10am tomorrow to run through the show twice. The stage might be in a state where I can get at my costumes and possibly start the setting up tomorrow night with luck.

Sleeping Saturday Beauties

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Saturday 30th November 2019

A very full day in Pantoland. This morning the final adding the Pearl Shaw Juveniles into the scenes, and working on another scene involving the children and Ensemble.

At Twelve Thirty Sherrie left for a visit downstairs (it is a huge building this!) to a craft fair in aid of charity. It was a “Have a sherry with Sherrie” hour- she’s a very popular lady, loose or otherwise, so our hour turned into a bit longer. It was a great walk about and some excellent Christmas themed crafts and characters in the room!

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The Fairest In the Lland- dudno……..well, it is Panto time!

Accompanied by Richard & Lucy from VC Marketing the event was a great opportunity to pass on the panto word. A very hasty lunch, then back to the rehearsal room (Two flights up) for our very first “Stagger Through” the show without stopping!

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The Lunch Bunch- Pearl Shaw dancers grab a quick bite.

We started at 2.pm and the first half was around sixty minutes. That will, I’m sure slim down a bit- In “Sleeping Beauty” most of the plot is in Act One.. Well, basically Act Two is “Wakey Wakey” and we’re off to the pub, but it has the special magical effects and all of us gorgeous people in it to make it gorgeous!

Carabosse and her Minions! 

We got through the entire show which I think was rather jolly, and a good way to start the day off for us- tomorrow is our free day in Llandudno. It is, however NOT a free day for the resident Stage Crew of Venue Cymru, or for David Morgan our production Manager. Avid readers of this Dame Blog will recall David was company manager here Last time I did “Sleeping Beauty”- he’s the one that commutes from Malta. Small world, isn’t it?

The Pearl Shaw juveniles and Chaperones.

All through Saturday and Sunday large trucks are arriving from Qdos HQ and from The Twins FX to be unloaded at the dock doors of VC. My costumes will be amongst them, and will stay in the dock until the Quick Change Room is created on Stage Left. We wear costumes for the first time on Wednesday.

The second half was forty-five minutes, so we know we are on track more or less.

Sunday December 1st 2019

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Goes without saying- A beautiful sight on a Sunny Sunday in Llandudno. The company met up at “The Albert” pub and had a carvery roast Sunday lunch. This time next week we will be doing I think an 11am show and a 3pm show!

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Just a glorious walk along this promenade to work every morning- THAT is what comuting should be like! Rehearsals 10am tomorrow in the VC Rehearsal room.

The Empire Night Out!

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After rehearsals finished, our first Company meal at Llandudno’s beautiful Empire Hotel, looked after by Elyse and Michael with gorgeous food and a little wine!

It was a well timed to celebrate our Jade Hunter’s Birthday propely. She had a Birthday cake presented during the rehearsal today, and I guess this was the cherry on top!

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Jade cutting her birthday cakeIt wasnt all banquets and balls today- we rehearsed. I guess we rehearsed the banquet and the ball for Princess Beauty’s Birthday, so art was imitating life! Sherrie & I had a morning to go through lines, so we went to the Osborne House Hotel and reheased on their big plush sofas and open fires!

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Today’s rehearsal involved John and Adam Choreographer putting the Ensemble ladies & gents into the scenes, and running through their entrances and exits. I got to go through my song (wot I wrote) while Liam and Damjan were choreographed into it waving their marracas. Very strictly it is!

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Adam and Harriett- The Sleeping Princess on her gilded chaise longue!

Friday 29th November 2019

Rehearsed scenes morning and then afternoon, with the Ensemble in each scene, plus musical “stings” and Segues and links put in by Simon MD. Did the ghost gag a few times to fit music (and the Ghost costume) into the scene.

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A sunny lunchtime view from Venue Cymru’s “Y Review” restaurant today!

At about 4.30 the Pearl Shaw juveniles arrived- tomorrow is the day we do the scenes and place them into positions before a “Stagger Through” run in the Afternoon.

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