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Christmas Eve at The Theatre Royal

December 25, 2018

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Christmas is all about the Children- Here are our hard working and dedicated stars of the future- The “Young Persons”, or “Juveniles” or, as they’ve always been called “The Babes!”

The Blue Team and The Red Team. They are townspeople,, Baby Rats, Mini Sailors and assorted pantomime characters- many o fthem in their first professional production.

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As a rule, most “Babes” are from one or two dancing schools. Here at The TRP they are the sixteen children who were accepted into the pantomime after auditioning in October. Out of about one hundred, these are the lucky sixteen! Here’s one troupe (for troupes of Babes is the original term) in the backstage Green Room Canteen going crackers!

Today we had two shows- Christmas Eve is always an electric time in a Pantomime. Today the company of “Dick Whittington” brought a little magic to the local children’s ward, visiting over twenty of the young patients who will be in hospital over the Christmas period.

Two packed houses today- earlier shows of 1pm and 6pm. Great responses, and a lot of laughter (and boo-ing!) going on throughout. Some of the company have their families in to see the show, and spend the day off with them. Daisy had the biggest family clan, with Alex running a close second!

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Talking of family ties- Young Tom Blackler is working Stage Elex this Panto, alongside Dave. During a conversation before the start of Act Two, I discovered his Dad Chris was in charge of The Stage here at TRP when I was here in 2004, and that his Nan, Sylvia Blackler was my fabulous dresser, along with Suzy Copley! Sylvia & Suzy looked after Peter Robbins and myself for the many changes we had in the Brian Conley “Cinderella” FOURTEEN years ago! The Family Stage Tradition carries on with Tom! I’m looking forward to seeing Sylvia when she visits very soon! A lot to catch up on!

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Walking on the Hoe today, just below the Hotel, I spotted this street sign! I immediately sent a photo to David Hartshorne. This appears to be a lane named after Pantomime’s most famous and long serving Principal Boy- Dorothy Ward, David’s relative! Here on this site you can look up articles on Dorothy Ward- and David Hartshorne’s archive of photographs of her can be found on the site too.

Here’s Dorothy as Dick Whittington! Late on in her career- 1954.

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Dorothy Ward

So our two shows flew by, and with a wave of a wand, the streets were full of fleeing thespians, heading home, or to their friends and families. I was delighted to get a chance to mmet up again with Sound Man Supremo, Wes Mcann- Here to visit Jannine- direct from his lengthy tour of The Rocky Horror Show. Wes and I did Dartford “Jack & The Beanstalk” I think eight or nine years ago. What a joy to catch up over a Christmas drink in The Pub On The Hoe!

Merry Christmas to everyone responsible for bringing Pantomime to life throughout the UK and beyond tonight! Have a well deserved day off!

 

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