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Dame’s Diary Tuesday 18th December

December 19, 2012

Dame’s Diary

Tuesday December 18th

Back from a day off, and very jolly it was too. I got to Birmingham on Sunday Night in time to say hello to the Hippodrome Company in the bar- They have now opened and have their press night tonight! Many of the top papers there, including Mail On Sunday and Observer- keep an eye out for those reviews!

My visitor on Sunday was Jack Watters- Jack is a pantomime aficinado with a knowledge of Matcham Theatres that belies belief. He has been to pantomimes since his childhood in Scotland, and today, for example managed the matinee at Birmingham Hippodrome and then the evening here at Wolverhampton! He has a few more lined up to see, including Richmond and “Aladdin” at the O2. Not bad considering he returns to work in America in January!

Today between shows the Ensemble had their vocal call. This involves singing through the show’s tunes with David the MD,, the session very informally held in the front Stalls next to the pit. This means that Bob for example can try out the songs belonging to Jack, and Matt, who covers me doing the two numbers I have been involved in.

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Keith’s voice is better – helped by the day off too- and Cuddles the Monkey was in great form this evening.The show was cracking fun, and sped by. My visitors this evening were Michael And Dave, mine hosts from the “Can-Y-Bae” in Llandudno. Readers of last year’s Dame’s Diary will recall that they looked after me superbly at their lovely seafront establishement for the run. It was so lovely to see them here and have time to have a drink with them and Sherrie after the show. I am in contact with John Evans on an almost daily basis- he’s giving his Mr Smee in Llandudno with Barney and Michael Howe and obviously having a fantastic time.

A big thank you to Keith for providing the Its-behind-you archive with another treasure. He very kindly presented me with a beautiful framed collection of the Post Office Pantomime Stamps, issued back in the late 1980’s featuring a Principal Boy, A Cat, A Genie, A Dame and a Fairy Godmother. This will most definately take pride of place on a wall!

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 The Twelve Dames Of Christmas!

 A few links. I was hugely honoured to be asked to be one of photographer Sally Mais’s Dames for her photographic project- Twelve Dames In Twelve Days in the lead up to Christmas. Her superb backstage photographs, including some of us Dames can be seen on and some variants on

Included in the portraits of dames in situ are Ian Lauchlan at Coventry, Kenneth Alan Taylor at Nottingham Playhouse, Steve Elias at Hackney Empire, Phylip Harries at Theatr Clwyd Mold , Leon Craig at Oxford, with more to follow. The photographs are stunning, and Ex Actress Sally has captured the genre beautifully. I am indeed very grateful to be included in this work- Thank you Sally!

Another link well worth visiting is featuring the Thursday evening BBC presentation of Michael Grade’s History Of The Pantomime Dame.

Directed and produced by Michael Burke, this two hour programme goes out on BBC4 at 9pm on December 20th. In the documentary Michael Grade explores what has made the panto dame an enduring feature of British life. Veteran Dame Berwick Kaler discusses the art of the Panto Dame at the Theatre Royal York.

I spent several hours discussing background and historical detail with Michael Burke for inclusion in this programme, using information from its-behind-you as reference material. I’ll have to watch it on Catch-Up as like most Dames in the UK I might be a tad busy when it is broadcast!

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So- tomorrow another two shows- and again on Thursday, then surprisingly we have Friday off! The reason is that schools all over the UK break up that day, and it is not the ideal day for shows- after that it is full steam ahead until the latter part of January!

I plan to look at the archive of the Grand Wolverhampton and report back with pictures, and several projects abound for this blog- one of the crew will do a day’s blog, as will stage management and wardrobe I hope- I’d like to ask one of the Juveniles from The Classic Academy to do a “Day In The Life Of” a panto juvenile, and photograph people in their dressing rooms- looking at the different ways we all make these tiny rooms our home for almost two months. Plenty more to come and reports on the shows as they happen!

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