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Dame’s Diary- Birthday Girl!

December 14, 2012

Thursday 13th December

Had the luxury of a lie-in this morning, followed by a ramble around the designer shops of Wolverhampton.. Primarko and Armani- “Salvation Armani” being the most popular! I spent a good while looking for a festive “Onesey” in Primark, but since Ben- our Jack wears one in the show, they have sold out! He is that fashion icon on stage obviously. Not a onesey to be had!

Arrived to find Niki Evan’s dressing room bedecked with balloons, banners, buckets of red roses and champagne- she is indeed today’s birthday girl! Her 40th no less- how good to spend it working and doing what you love eh? No time to celebrate though, as we had the usual two shows. The matinee packed to the rafters with school parties, and then the evening- a particularly jolly crowd I thought!


It was this evening I had one of those “oh dear” moments- when the brain decides to close down for a few seconds. As Keith Harris enters my dairy I am supposed to say “hello Keith, Where’s Orville..”quite simpler you’d think eh? He has no furry green duck on his arm.. I have had the script a while. Oh no. I glide towards him and ask in full delivery- “hello. Where’s Keith?”

He looks at me. “I’m Keith”.. “I’m here”. The audience fall about. I blush to my roots- well to the roots of my wig. One of those little moments in panto!

On the plus side my parking has improved. I’ve not demolished a cloud in three shows so far, and am getting very cocky in the Madge Mobile!

Between shows Keith and I went front of house to say hello to the Elmhurst Ballet School, based in Birrmingham at the BRB. They were here with (Dr) Sue Barbour, who began her stage career with her famous family as a Stilt and Puppeteering act- I saw Sue perform a stilt “Giant” speciality at the Swansea Grand Theatre, and again at the London Palladium. She recently got her Doctorate and is publishing on pantomime. How lovely to see her after all these many years! Here is a picture of us in the circle bar!

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We had a few online reviews published today. Here they are:

Birmingham Mail Online:

Trust a cheeky monkey to thrill hundreds of children in the audience and provide a cracking finale to this happy pantomime.

Cuddles the chimp may be No. 2 in the pecking order to that daffy duck Orville, but his late appearance after the demise of the huge and nasty Giant Blunderbore ignites youngsters who are no doubt well past their bedtime.

Operated, of course, by the legendary Keith Harris, Cuddles has the kids – and mums and dads – howling with laughter at his rather rude antics.

Ventriloquist Harris has been around a long time, but his act is as fresh and funny as ever and certainly the highlight of this enjoyable, if slow starting, panto.

Loose Women star Sherrie Hewson plays Lady Temple-Savage, the giant’s glamorous henchwoman, Nigel Ellacott is a very amusing Dame Trot and Niki Evans plays Fairy Fortune. A special mention for Day-Zee the panto cow with a realistic moo and an ability to deliver milk – by the bottle.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs to January 20.


Stourbridge News:

 WHEN a green duck and a monkey puppet can leave young children and grown men rolling in the aisles with laughter, you know panto season has well and truly arrived.

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’s festive heart-warming offering of Jack and the Beanstalk is the perfect tonic for a chilly winter’s night.

Headed by Sherrie Hewson, Ken Morley and the legendary Keith Harris, the panto is laugh out loud fun from the off.

Although undoubtedly the stars of the show are loveable puppets Orville the Duck and Cuddles the monkey, an act which ventriloquist Harris has honed to perfection over his 30-year career, with his scenes leaving the entire audience shrieking with laughter.

Sherrie Hewson hams its up fabulously as the panto baddie, Lady Joyce Temple-Savage, the terrifying giant’s right-hand woman and it was great to see her reunited with former on-screen Corrie husband, Ken Morley as King Crumble, albeit for one musical number, which included quips to their infamous waterbed scene.

Nigel Ellacott takes the role of Dame Trot and it was clear to see why he is one of the country’s top panto dame performers, as he sashayed his way through the show in a variety of outrageous outfits, including one which cleverly revealed his affections for an unsuspecting audience.

Returning Tamworth X-Factor star, Niki Evans and Any Dream Will Do contestant, Ben James-Ellis, provide the majority of the musical numbers in their roles of Fairy Fortune and hero Jack Trott while Sophie Brooke-Ford portrays a sweet Princess Apricot as Jack’s love-interest.

And complete with a moving and speaking 10ft ogre and a magical growing beanstalk, what more could you want? The show runs until January 20.”

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 Evening show over we cracked open a few bottles of bubbly and celebrated Niki’s birthday afterwards, joined by The Head of Qdos Nick Thomas and agent to the stars, Phil Dale in the dressing room. A very jolly evening- and the first of at least three birthdays to be seen during this run. Ben is next, followed by Ken!



One Comment
  1. Your comments about Sue Barbour and her Palladium appearances in Barnum reminded me that back in September, on our retirement trip, we are currently in Singapore, so Pantoland will have to do without us this year. Anyway, back to the plot whilst staying in Adelaide Australia we met a couple with a strong theatrical history. The husband is a guy called Perry Davey, who was also in Barnum at the Palladium and the Victoria Palace and is also featured in the DVD of that show, and he also used to be part of a speciality act. He also has done some stunt work on some the James Bond and other action movies. He is now retired.

    His wife is a delightful lady called Faye Fisher. From the archives, you may recall that the Shadows wrote a full musical score for three London Palladium Pantomimes. The first was Aladdin with Cliff, the 2nd was Babes in the Wood with Frank Ifield and the 3rd was Cinderella with Cliff again. I have the vinyl copies of all three.

    For the Aaddin pantomime Una Stubbs played the Princess but for whatever reason she was not available when Norrie Paramor produced the recording of the music and Faye stepped in to play the Princess on the recording and is credited with it. I have all 3 recording loaded onto my computer. Faye and I entertained the Executive Lounge at the hotel with a word perfect duet of a song called ‘I’m Feeling Oh So Lovely’. I think for both of us it was a random meeting. I was very excited as I loved those shows and for her to meet someone who knew her work and even had a copy with me was quite emotional. Both Perry and Faye are now retired to Glenelg just outside Adelaide. Faye toured with Cliff Richard and the Shadows back in the late 1960s and 1970s when acts used to move into provincial theatres for a week.

    I also recall from that show that Abanazer was played wonderfully by Mr Alan Curtis. An amazing pantomime villain, one of the best I have ever seen. Window Twankey was the amazing Arthur Askey, I am so grateful that I saw him play dame twice.

    Hope the rest of your run at the wonderful Grand goes really well.

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