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“Snow White” in Llandudno. The Blog Begins!

November 30, 2015

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Nanny’s Blog: Day One  Monday 30th December 2015

Hi Ho, Hi Ho…. Yes, it’s off to Pantoland once again, and hasn’t it come around quick this time? Seems like only yesterday I was polishing a pagoda in Hull, and here we are heading for the little cottage in the valley of the seven diamond mines, or Llandudno if you prefer!

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In case you don’t know The location of the Queen Of The Welsh Resort, Llandudno is top left, with Anglesea sticking out into the Irish sea. Glorious views, lovely Hotels and Restaurants, and of course, the 1,400 seater Venue Cymru with its even bigger concert venue next door.

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Nanny Myfanwy and Muddles- Nigel Ellacott& John Evans

Here is the blog that will continue until the end of the run, reporting on events in Pantoland on a daily, or almost daily basis!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise really, as everything has been gearing up to this week for quite some time. During the summer while I was arranging costumes for the Kenneth More Panto- another “Snow White” in fact, I was also going through the first drafts of the script with Michael Harrison, our producer for Qdos, sorting out where my costumes would be fitted in.

I believe this year (My 41st Pantomime!) may turn out to be my personal record in terms of costume changes- unless we cut a scene or two! I have preparered fifteen changes, or sixteen to be technical. This is a number I have never attempted, even in my early days of playing Ugly Sister with Peter Robbins, when we were changing costumes constantly!

The costumes (now sorted) have gone. In fact they left the store in London two weeks ago, and will arrive at Venue Cymru next weekend. They were accompanied by Andrew Ryan’s costumes for Birmingham Hippodrome, and both our lot hardly touched the sides of the massive lorry.

So- all that preparation- Costumes, script conferences, line learnings and packing has arrived at this minute. This is the moment (as Gary Wilmot would sing so beautifully) that folk who have never met each other, along with folk who have worked together before all meet up in a rehearsal room stocked with tea, coffee and hopefully tins of biscuits, to embark on a magical journey. This journey takes place all over rehearsal rooms in the UK right now, with the exception of those fortunate, like Newcastle Theatre Royal, Hackney Empire and the Coliseum Theatre Oldham that have already opened their shows!

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So, let’s meet this years Pantomime Company of “Snow White” at Venue Cymru, currently rehearsing in a rehearsal room “somewhere in London!”

Heading our company, and returning once again to Venue Cymru as Director is Michael Gyngell.Michael has directed the last two pantomimes here- this will be his third.

He is joined by Arthur Gourounlian who choreographed last year’s panto at VC, and will be setting the “Strictly” benchmark for this Panto!

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Kelvin Towse MD

Our Musical Director is Kelvin Towse. He introduced himself with “You know my wife”- and his gorgeous wife is Linda Jane Holmes who I had the great pleasure of touring in “Billy Liar” years back- She was Rita to my Arthur. Looking forward to her visit during the run!

Our Company Stage Manager is Andy Parish, and our DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) is once again Lisa Briddon- this will be my third panto with Lisa! Our ASM & Bookcover is Jenny Kassner with Sara-Lee Bull as Technical Assistant Stage Manager.

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Lisa Briddon – her team will be Jenny Kassner & Sara-Lee Bull

John Evans returns to the VC Panto for his Ninth year this season, and I am truly delighted that this will be my third time working with him in Llandudno! John will be channelling “Muddles”, and once again will be my son!. John has just finished performing on the luxury liners for this year, and having crossed the Atlantic several times this autumn, is all set for The Queen of the Resort, Llandudno.

As Nanny Myfanwy (from Deganwy!) He and I look after Snow White who comes under the sparkly gaze of “Strictly’s” Robin Windsor.

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Robin Windsor & Emma Francis

Robin has just completed a National tour of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” with Kristina Rihanoff before starting rehearsals.

Robin will be the “Man In The Mirror” who fortunately will be able to quick-step through the glass to join us in protecting our Princess from the clutches of Emma Francis as The Wicked Queen.

Emma hails from the West End of Musicals and plays and tours that include everything from “My Fair Lady” through to “Joseph”, “Fame”, “Grease” and the music of Kander & Ebb, and will be bringing menace to her Queen Sadista- picking on poor Snow White played by Sarah McNicholas.

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John with Sarah McNicholas and Ricky Johnston

Hailing from Swansea in Wales, like myself, Sarah started her career touring in “Whistle Down The Wind”, and has recently toured in “Evita” with Marti Pellow. (Marti Pellow will be playing Abanazar at Birmingham Hippodrome this season. His first visit to Pantoland I believe!)

Saving Snow White from the clutches of the Queen is Ricky Johnston, who hails from New York. Ricky is Prince Connor. As lead vocalist with “Spirit Of The Dance” productions both here and in his native USA,  and large scale musical productions that include Lr Grand Cirque in the States and Thursford here in the UK he will be duetting with Sarah, and fortunately not with me! I wouldn’t wish my singing on him!

So new to the world of Pantomime are Robin, Ricky and Sarah- what a lovely place to start that journey in glorious Llandudno. Next week we move into the Venue Cymru and meet up with Sarah Ecob the administrator, and all the crew.

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The rehearsal rooms we have are split into two- one smaller room where Michael spent the day blocking Act One, and a vast room where the Ensemble are working with Arthur Gourounlian on the dance numbers. Our ensemble are Jamie Mckenzie, Jordan Palmer, Megan Little, Gabriela Hernandez, Laura Marie Benson, and Ashley-Jordon Packer .

During the afternoon the large wardrobe boxes arrived from Scarborough HQ, and looking after Wardrobe is Lesley Belfield as Wardrobe Mistress assisr=ted by Wendy Philips.

The day was spent with Michael taking us through the blocking of Act one, and going back over the scenes to get them set, with Kelvin filling in with the musical breaks and play ons. During the day Lesley called out several of the cast for fittings, while Kelvin took the singers away to run through keys and set a few numbers.

By five thirty we had got through the first half of the show, and had a very jolly day.

We are sharing the rehearsal venue with another panto company- Woking Pantomime, a “Sleeping Beauty”, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of Katie Price as the week goes by. I believe Anita Dobson will be joining them later, as she and Katie Price are sharing the role of Villainess.

Tomorrow we start with Michael on Act Two, and the Ensemble continue with Arthur in the huge Hall upstairs. It might be the day that John & I get to learn the Salsa, which is apparently not a snack in Nandos, but a latin dance we will be featuring as we are joining Robin Windsor for a bit of Ballroom! I am polishing my Passe Doble as we speak!

So, you’ve been introduced to everyone- let the magic begin!

 

 

 

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