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Many Hands Make Light Work!

December 23, 2013

Saturday 21st December 2014

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A day of two shows as usual, at 2.15pm and 7.15pm. Have to admit between shows, with my lilo and furry blanket I was unconscious for two hours! This panto lark needs energy and my batteries need recharging! It was absolutely vile outside-blowing a gale and raining, so it was the very best place to be between shows!

Both houses packed and a very perky “up for it” audience who adored the show and really seemed to love “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” at the end. It is now extremely cold on stage, with strong winds making it a chilly place to be- going onstage is the warmest place obviously! Panto folk cluster together for warmth in the wing!

The panto at Colwyn Bay- “Dick Whittington” opens today, and we send them all our very best. How strange that as they open and get in to their routine we’ll be closing! Daily I get messages from mates in Panto as far apart as Newcastle and Weymouth about their shows- we are all doing the twice daily (and in some cases there are reports of THREE shows a day!) across the UK. This is the busiest week of the year in Pantoland.

After the second show a few of us retired to the Can y Bae for a drink- For Vicky it was a case of The Rover Returns as she posed behind the Bar. OR is it really Queen Vic? See what I did there? Queen Vi…Oh please yourselves!

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Sunday 22nd December 2013

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Winds are still very strong here, and there are trucks on the beach pushing the pebbles and rocks back to form the sea defences. It catches you unexpectedly when you cross a road that runs down to the Prom from the mountains and can literally sweep you off your feet!

Today is the Many Hands Make Light Work Day!

We had a visit from Michael Harrison, Pantomime  head of Qdos and our producer for this “Sleeping Beauty”. Michael arrived at midday having journeyed across the country looking in on pantomimes that include Newcastle, Edinburgh, Hull, Crewe, Bradford, Birmingham , Southampton and many many more by the end of the panto season!

Michael was accompanied by Jake Hine from Qdos and arrived in time for a swift cuppa in Queen Blodwyn’s boudoir before curtain up.

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When your producer is in you want everything to be spick and span and shipshape. However, in theatre and panto you are not always in control of all elements. It can be the weather, or the national grid…

All was going very smoothly in the magical Kingdom of Llandudno when John, Brendan and I were onstage . Muddles has been sacked, and Brendan and Blodwyn go to find him. I am in a big blue crinoline dress at this point, balancing a very heavy champagne bucket on my head, as you do.. first there was a flickering of lights. Then the lights in the orchestra pit went out. We looked at each other and continued, eying the wings for a signal..

Then the house lights came on, the microphones packed in, and in the corner of my vision I saw Company Manager David and Technical Manager Steve looking up to see we were all far enough upstage for the inevitable. Then whoosh. Down came the house tabs!David went in front of them and announced there would be a short break while we awaited the restoration of the lights. We’d had a power outage, probably involving our area of Llandudno, and there was no power to the lighting or the musicians, and all we could do was wait while many people did their jobs very efficiently, to reset for the power to return. It did in only about six minutes!

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John Evans is a master of comic invention. He will sieze upon anything that happens swiftly, digests it and produces a comic response that brings the house down. He didn’t fail us this time! When power was returned and we re-entered in that scene, he claimed he’d been sacked by the King because of his skills as an electrician. “I never touched that plug!” he cried. The audience were right there with us! Huge cheers and we went on to the interval!

These things don’t come in single episodes! It took many hands to make light work again when in Act Two, as Vicky & Darren were about to exit and the Royal Ballet was about to start, the flickering began again, and we had to bring in the tabs. Llandudno was suffering from power outages in the region, and we were affected along with everyone else. Again a lot of skilled professionals reset in readiness, and the audience waited probably only about ten minutes in all, if that, before we were given the go-ahead.

The sight of John Evans entering with a head torch on, saying “I’m not taking any chances!” brought the house down!

Normal service was resumed, and the show went down a storm. Michael and Jake got to see a show slightly different from the normal, but as enjoyable, and certainly memorable for the audience!

I rely on my mascot for luck in shows. He hangs in every dressing I have been in since the day he was given to me by my dear friend Suzanne Kaye. We were in “Mother Goose” together at the Haymarket Theatre  Leicester, and she gave me “Honey Bear” as a first night gift. He is still there hanging up on my dressing room some thirty six.. thirty seven years later! We were of course both children in “Mother Goose”. Obviously! Tiny little children!

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Also bringing luck to the dressing room are the amazing number of Good Luck and Opening night cards I’ve received. So lovely- and apologies now to those I’ve missed out sending cards to- it has been a hectic few months and still going- thank goodness! No complaints here!

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Tonight, after the two shows we had a Company Bowling Night! I was determined to reproduce the photo we had taken two years ago here in “Aladdin”, and with the help of Jon at the Llandudno Superbowl, we achieved this. Here is The Bowling Team of Crew & Cast of “Aladdin” next to the current team two years on!

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Aladdin Bowling

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Team Sleeping Beauty!

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So, life backstage continues. The very cold conditions in the Quick Change area have been sorted, thanks to the crew finding Blodwyn a blower! The Queen is delighted and can now disrobe 28 times a day without feeling she’s on an arctic expedition! We’ll all be glad when these strong cold winds die down up here!

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Queen Blodwyn’s Royal Rolls takes pride of place in the Stage Left Wing. I love that entrance! Shame Andy can’t take it for a spin up the prom sometime! I feel every inch Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard” every time it takes to the stage!

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