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Friday 23rd. Panto Royalty!

February 23, 2018


Peter John & Chris Emmett

Delighted to have a visit today at Brick Lane from Panto Royalty- Peter John and Chris Emmett. Peter was doyen Dame Director at The Palace Theatre Watford a quarter of a century ago- they were among my favourite Pantomimes- especially Dick Whittington and his last there, “Mother Goose”. Wonderful inventive shows and a joy to watch!


Peter is of course a pillar of the Music Hall Pantheon, and has been presenting characters and chairing music halls across the country. Always so good to have him visit!

Chris Emmett is known to listeners of The News Huddlines and from the wonderful Television “321” shows with Ted Rogers- the last variety sketch shows to be combined with an incomprehensible quiz format. Great sketches those! Chreis has spent a lifetime involved in Pantomime, and, Like Peter John is a Panto Dame.

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If you want a treat, go to ebay and purchase CD’s of Chris Emmett’s wonderful Audio Pantomimes with a host of guest stars from Barbara Windsor to Bernand Cribbins. Every one a wealth of gags. Here’s just one example!


Yesterday (Thursday ) we had a new Emperor for the day, in the guise of John Styles. John very kindly and professionally stepped in for the show as our Emperor Paul James had a long standing commitment. John was rehearsed in and this week Princess So-Shy has had two dads. Here is John in Dressing room 2.


He brought some of his magic tricks along and added them into his portrayal of So-Shy’s Dad- great fun to watch, ands a lovely chap- famous too in the world of Puppetry- John is an expert in “Punch & Judy”.



It was a pleasure to work alongside John, and great fun too!

So Shy is the name of our Princess, but originally it was the name of her Handmaiden- often written in as love interest for Wishee Washee in earlier pantomimes. Here are a few Princess facts:



Due to the influence of the Disney Film, many children expect the Princess to be called “Jasmine”. In fact, she had been named “Yasmin” forty years before the film was released, and has had many other  names in her pantomime career. The most traditional of these would probably be “Princess Balroubadour”-and before that “Princess Badroulbadour” she was called “Balroubadour” when the young Julie Andrews played the part for Emile Littler in 1951. A year later the Princess stole her maid’s name and was “Princess So-Shi” at Stockport, and has also been “Tai-Hee” – overall her traditional name has always been “Balroubadour”.


Shelby as Princess So-Shy.


Prince Pekoe (Often in early pantomimes a suitor of The Princess) played opposite his love interest- a comedy soubrette, who was often Widow Twankey’s Maid, or sometimes the handmaiden to the Princess. Again the authors could have fun with Chinese puns. The part was created by Blanchard in his Drury Lane “Aladdin” of 1885as “Che-Kee– Twankay’s Maid of All Work”,(played by Miss Nelly Leamar) and had an opposite number “Saw-Cee– Her Maid of No Work!”

Since then she has had many names including “Kissi-Wissi”, “Tcha-Ming”, “Petti-Sing” (taken from “The Mikado Operetta”), Itti-Sing and “So-Shy”.

Again, the part of Twankey’s maid, and Prince Pekoe’s love interest has now vanished from pantomime, but her character lives on, in part whenever there is a companion to the Princess, and then she is often named “So-Shy”.

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So, a couple of emperors down, packed houses and coming to our first twice daily shows tomorrow (Saturday), it has been a full week at Brick Lane. Andrew Robley and I joined Andrew Ryan for a night out at the newly recreated Joe Allans to spend the evening with our mates Sherrie (Hewson) and Amanda (Barrie) before everyone heads off for tours and engagements. A jolly night- now, it’s back to work!


Many thanks to Sam Sadler for keeping this blog up to date with the backstage photos!0fb5b258-bb2b-4a4f-95cd-015d9c1c0a3e

Nathan & Sam





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