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Panto 1990-1991

Paul Elliott for E&B/Triumph Pantomime Company

NEW THEATRE CARDIFF (8th Dec 1991-19th January)

Transferred to

GRAND THEATRE LEEDS (12th February -24th February 1992)

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Jonathan Morris ,Dame Hilda Bracket,  Janet Dibley, Windsor Davies, Dawson Chance, Cheryl Taylor, Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins, Natalie Cleverley,  Frank Hennessy (Cardiff) ,Jon Sowden (Leeds) Juliet Brodie, Gary Hoof, Michelle King, Sascha Kane, Donna Lawrence, Paula Lyn, Sarah Mogg, Julian Redmond. The Olive Guppy Olivettes.(Cardiff) The Mavis Booth School (Leeds).

 Directed by Tony Craven, Choreographer Sam Spencer Lane, Musical Director David Roper, Lighting Graham McLusky, CSM Gina Webb (Cardiff) Jon Sowden (Leeds) DSM Joanna Ansdell, ASM Peter McNally, Wardrobe Elaine James.Musicians: Gareth Rees, Neil Martin, Peter Smith, Eric Clarke, Robin Hames, Fraser Lawson, Philip Girling.

The Production played Both New Theatre Cardiff and Grand Theatre & Opera House Leeds with a gap in between each Pantomime. Local BBC Radio Wales personality Frank Hennessy was replaced in Leeds by the CSM Jon Sowden.

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We had a great season in Cardiff. The Dressing room Peter and I had was huge, and seemed to have a side room we turned into a Boudoir crossed with a Green room- Dame Hilda presiding in the Interval for teas and cake! The magic of Patrick onstage with Cheryl in the Kitchen scene, and then in Act Two in the “Bench” scene- “Do you love him Cinderella? Oh Yes Fairy Godmother” followed by Patrick’s operatic voice soaring into the gods- yes it was Panto Magic!

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Dame Hilda singing “The Night Is Young” to Cheryl Taylor- The “Bench Scene”

We were so lucky this season, to play two beautiful Theatres. After a brief break we opened the Pantomime at Leeds Grand & Opera House- and set up digs in the village of Kirkstall, outside the City. Two flats-The Sisters upstairs and Dame Hilda Downstairs. The Musicians next door! The Musicians all joined us in Leeds and in the heavy snow, some skied to work from Kirkstall. Dame Hilda & The Sisters took the bus!

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One great adventure after another! A memory I treasure is Patrick, (Dame Hilda) Peter and I- all in our make up and wearing hard hats being given a tour of the magnificent theatre, to the very top of the building to the cellars below with old wartime signs up, an underground stream and a deserted box office with a cardboard cut out of John Hanson as “The Red Shadow” keeping silent guard!

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Panto: 2007-08

QDOS

WYCOMBE SWAN

CINDERELLA

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Brian Conley, Nigel Ellacott, Peter Robbins, Dawson Chance, Jody Crosier, Michelle Potter, Dean Chisnall, Kerry Winter, Rossana Stocchino, Philip Dzwonkiewicz, Lia Given, Lucy Harrison, Sarah Riches, Jack Jefferson

 Executive Producer and Director Paul Elliott, Co-Director & Choreographer Paul Robinson, Musical Director Barry Robinson, Lighting Designer David W Kidd, CSM Brian Lawrence, DSM Martin Hinkins, ASM’s Rachel Moule, Richard Hale.

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I decided not to commute this one, as three hours of my day would be lost to travel. Again great to be in the Qdos family. We lost a Sean but gained a Dean! Dean had been in “Never Forget” the Take That Musical, and followed this with playing Shrek at Drury Lane and On Tour. Sean was in Momma Mia and later Kinky Boots in the West End.

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The Qdos “Cinders” team was out in force-Martin Hinkins ran the show, and Paul Robinson assisted Paul staging the show. It seemed as if we’d always working with this team,especially with Dawson! It made rehearsals a dream. I recall a picnic on the train back to central London on Christmas Eve, a lot of the cast heading home and snacking on route!

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 The Musicians headed by Barry Robinson had a basement room with TV monitors to see the show. It seemed strange not seeing the band in a pit. We had a spacious dressing room upstairs and hosted the interval teas as always. Peter commuted from South London.

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The Last Beauty Show!

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The trucks are in place, the thoughts are on packing- the final two shows are upon us! A day when the matinee was full of very jolly people, and so was the evening- along with Theatre Manager Sarah Ecob and her party, to watch the final show. We all had a great deal of fun! The audience in particular loved the Bedroom antics and the 12 Days Of Christmas melee of toilet rolls being passed around the auditorium while Kieran set off in pursuit!

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Photo Paul Sampson

Document Conwy photographer Paul was backstage0 he’s been building up a portfolio of shots of life backstage, and documenting me in the life of a Dame backstage. Cant wait to see the results!

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A great picture from the wings- Liam and me caught in mid “Copa”!

During the second show Christina did my packing, as indeed she has done for the past pantomimes, so that by the time I emerged from the shower and set foot onstage, everything was ready to go on the truck for Yorkshire. It stays there until Andrew Ryan’s panto ends in Birmingham on February 6th and then will return back to us. Thanks Christina- a stunning job once again!

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The Stage just fifteen minutes after the curtain fell! The get-out is a major event, a real hard hat choreographed piece of engineering, undertaken by masters of their crafts! So impressive to watch!

Here are some of Paul Sampson’s Black & White shots of the last show:

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Meanwhile, Emma on the crew has taken on Dave The Dinosaur as Work Experience. Here is his journey around Venue Cymru trying out different skills in Stage Management and even Musical Direction!

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With the audience applause ringing in the ears the cast left the building pretty rapidly- there are some very long drives home tonight. I sorted my labels, and sorted my box of costumes and wigs I will be wearing here in twelve days time when I will be part of “take pART” here at Venue Cymru for two days. Royal walkabouts, selfies and comparing shows are part of my Dame’s remit!

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The Remainers! The group of us that stayed over night, enjoying a few drinks at the Albert along with Helen & Al, missing from this photo. What a lovely friendly jolly bunch we’ve had here in Pantoland. A pleasure & a joy to work alongside. Same with the VC Crew and staff. Lovely to see Irene Bond today- Irene is a volunteer usher here at the Venue and dressed me in panto. Lovely to get a change to chat dogs and gardens with her once again!

SO HERE WE ARE-The end of our Panto journey! A great Panto crowd of people, and a good time had by Audiences and by us here at Llandudno. Diolch yn fawr iawn! Thank you SO much. Here’s to the next season of Pantoland.

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Thank you for joining us on this trip through the magic that is Pantoland by following this Dames Daily Blog!

Postscript- New Year’s Eve 2019

A visit to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see a fabulous panto- “Snow White” with Lesley Joseph, Matt Slack, Joe McElderry, Faye Brookes, Andrew Ryan and Doreen Tipton, Jac Yarrow, Flawless, Craig Garner, Blake Lisle, Jamie John, Simeon Dyer, Josh Bennett, Greg Doherty George Coppen, along with Aaron Barker, Stephen Alexander (I did “Aladdin” with Stephen at Venue Cymru) Charley Da Silva, Joshua Cantrill, Elysia Pemberton, Joseph Malana, Lauren Key and Lucy Keenan.

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New Year’s Eve in Pantoland- Brummie Style.

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And Andrew Ryan’s Nurse Nanny Asprin!

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Happy New Year!

Penultimate Beauty

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Our amazing Crew here at Venue Cymru!

It takes around fifteen to twenty people in all to create Pantoland on stage- here are some of the Crew with a few omissions- Keith, Aidi, James are off today, but it shows that the strength of a show is in the Crew making it all happen, along with our Stage Management team, then Ushers, Box Office staff, Marketing, and all the “secret army” that create what you see on the stage. A Huge Diolch yn Fawr to these amazing people!

Two shows at 2pm and 7pm, with me rushing about pre-packing before Christina (front row second from left) will be chalking up her record fourth “get-out” for me, packing the costumes as they are finished with, so everything can head for the large transport trucks that are already parked by the Venue Dock Doors.

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Photo Paul Sampson

A big thanks to VC for arranging our farewell drinks get-together at Dylans next door, for Crew and cast to chill in a great atmosphere, and lovely to see the Colwyn Bay Company of “Aladdin” there, headed by Stuart and Libby! A great evening. We were joined by Sarah Ecob the Theatre Manager, and a great time was had by all.

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SUNDAY 29th December 2019

Today is our final day! I am heading into Venue Cymru now for the 1pm show, and the second show will be a blur of packing. Hopefully if I have surfaced from a sea of boxes and dress rails I will report back on today. The most important thing to add to this is to say what an amazing and friendly talented cast and crew we have had here in “Sleeping Beauty”- A true joy to be with on our Panto journey!

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The Final Two Shows approach!

Beauty’s Relaxed Performance!

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Photo by @DocumentConwy

Friday 27th December 2019

Today was a matinee of our Relaxed Performance, where the Venue Cymru makes the building available to those who would possibly not otherwise visit the panto- the experience not being comfortable for those who find it a bit frightening, a bit stressful. The auditorium was transformed into an open space, seats removed allowing space to roam and wander- doors open, house lights to a quarter, and all the scary things like pyro flashes, loud effects music and generally loud noise removed. The auditorium becoming a place to have fun with others but in a safe environment.

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Our gorgeous Ensemble ladies attend the Palace

I did a speech, more of a chat to the audience at the beginning of the show outlining of this this and emphasising that we are all pretending and all having fun together, and then the performance began. In addition to the 300 or so audience that this relaxed performance was aimed at, we were also joined by a further 800 or 900 audience members out to have fun over the Christmas Holidays.

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The full Sleeping Beauty Ensemble backstage

The show was received amazingly, it was a joy to do and great responses throughout! I love these shows, and Theatres all over the UK are now doing them during the run.

I managed an hour in another part of Venue Cymru this morning- A Toy Fair.

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A great find! A corgi model tram showing the Llandudno tram advertising Catlin’s Follies. The very building I bought this toy tram in stands on the site of Catlin’s Follies that were performed in the Arcadia Theatre- What a lovely historical connection! I’ve even stood on the real tram last Summer when it was brought to the Promenade for a recreation of Pierrots and Panto here in Llandudno. This is one for my cabinet!

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Photos by Paul Sampson

We had a visitor this matinee, Director David Lloyd Jones, a former resident of Llandudno. Great to see him again and catch up with all things Swansea too! He chatted to Sherrie- he Directed her panto at Sunderland about six years ago.

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Photos by Paul Sampson

Sherries family were in to see the show again- both last night and tonight- its a big family affair for her here in Llandudno!

Our 5pm show visit was from Qdos co-owners Nick and Sandra Thomas. Lovely to see them again- they are now en route to Hull to look in on that panto (sending my greetings to Simon Webbe) and Crewe with I think about another two to look in on as they head back towards Scarborough.

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Photo by Paul Sampson

A lovely meal and a few drinks with some of the company at The Albert tonight- one of my all time favourite pubs in this gorgeous town, then back to rest before the very last four shows left! Tomorrow we have two at 2pm and 7pm followed by our Panto leaving Party! We’ll join up with the Panto crowd from Theatr Colwyn there too- It will be lovely to see Stuart Loughland, Libby Edwards, Steve Bloor, Lukas Kirkby and the Magic Light Company at the “do” tomorrow.

Tomorrow later time of 2pm and 7pm.

Beauty’s Boxing Day!

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The Great Orme!

Christmas Day for many was a day spent after driving vast distances across the country. Elle and the girls drove to Brighton and back to be with families, Liam and Kieran, Helen, Sherrie, Will, Harriet & Jamie and Rachel & Bethan all drove . I was lucky, my family and friends came here to see the Panto and to spend Christmas Day at the Hotel, joined by Andrew Ryan. They then returned Boxing Day to see Peter Pan at Birmingham Rep and Snow White (with Andrew) at the Hippodrome in the evening.

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Up The Orme- Andrew, Vivyan, Nigel & Owen 

Adam played chef for the remainers-He cooked up a storm in the Ensemble digs. Here they are enjoying the Baker Feast 2019!

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I had a great Christmas, loving the fact that my Hotel was full of dogs. Paradise! We ventured up the Orme and along the Prom. A great relaxing day.

Boxing Day Dippers!

I had promised Angela OGrady Mayor of Llandudno that I would be on hand at 11am to launch the Boxing Day DFip in the Sea! It is an annual event- for over 26 years, organised for Charity by the British Lions. I arrived at The St George’s to judge the fancy Dress Competition of bathers Pre dip. Winners were a group of Santa’s Reindeers, Second was Pamela Andreson & The Hoff, and third were two Wonder Women!

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Me and The Mayor. She went into the sea too!

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The Festive Dippers!

All praise to those brave folk who plunged into minus goodness knows what to raise funds for charities!

I had to make a hasty retreat to the Theatre for our 1am show. Great houses for both shows- lots of Adults and consequently lots of laughs. We have fun the audience and us up on stage. It is a party- and both houses had a great Boxing Day!

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Both sets of the Pearl Shaw Juvenile Dancers have had Christmas Parties- Thanks for the invites girls!

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Photo by Paul Sampson.

We also had our Secret Santa today- held on stage after the matinee, before the Babes Party and I still found time for a doze and a tidy up and a pre pack before the 5pm show!

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Secret Santa on stage

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The packing has started!We finish in three short days!

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A Whirlwind of Babes Parties, Secret Santas and shows! Photo Paul Sampson

Time has flown, and now as we near the end of a hugely happy season, the time is positively racing! On Sunday during the last show Christina will be doing my packing as she has done each time I’ve appeared here! By 7.30pm it will all be ready for the van!

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Photo courtesy of Paul Sampson.

Tomorrow is our Relaxed Performance at 1pm followed by a 5pm show. I love relaxed performances, and the fact that we can reach out to audiences that otherwise not wish to sit through a show. Its a really great feel good show we have ahead of us!

BeautyChristmas Greetings!

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Photo by Paul Sampson

The Twelve Days of Christmas  Routine, seen above has almost completed- today is the 23rd December- I’m writing this in haste on the morning of the 24th- Christmas Eve in a calm and peaceful Llandudno!

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Yesterday saw our two panto shows at the now usual 1pm and 5pm. Very well received and a lot of fun was had with our audiences, letting them into the fun and I think demonstrating what a happy company of strolling players we are, enjoying each others company both on and off stage. I think that comes over very strongly.

Paul Sampson the photographer was in the wings taking some shots to be shared later of life backstage. Waiting for me after was James Arnott, who has been seeing quite a few Pantomimes, including the lavish Palladium this season. He is now responsible for a magazine devoted to the intrinsic British art of Punch & Judy.

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After the show I joined Sherrie and her family (I think there were about fourteen of them) for a glorious meal at the St George’s on the promenade. A lovely family Christmas affair!

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Photo by Paul Sampson

For now I’ll leave you with Christmas Greetings from all of us here in Llandudno- Two shows today then joined here by friends and family for Christmas Day. Here’s to all of you travelling on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Merry Christmas!

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