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First Day at Beauty School!

November 25, 2019



Monday 25th November 2019

This blog will (Hopefully) be a thrice weekly event, or possibly more depending on wifi and powernaps during the run, so I hope you’ll get to know our company as we go along. For me, this is , what’s the expression “Not my first time at the rodeo” as they say places, as it is my fourth panto here in glorious VC. I’ve been here with “Aladdin”, “Sleeping Beauty” (as Queen) “Snow White” (yes, I drifted..) and now I’m back again for “Sleeping Beauty” once again.

Impressed by the new rehearsal facilities? I should say so! In previous times at VC (as Venue Cymru will be called in these blogs mostly!) we’ve rehearsed in rooms with a sea-view, or in the Llandudno Town Hall. The Town hall was a great rehearsal space because it was directly opposite the best pie shop in North Wales- The Ham Bone (product placement? Only at lunchtimes!), but these swanky state of the art facilities are stunning!

It’s not my first time working with our star, the gorgeous Sherrie Hewson– Sherrie and I have done “Aladdin” at Wolverhampton and “Jack & The Beanstalk” at Hull, and on one occasion both appeared at Brick Lane Music Hall together- and we have fun and frolics during the year. Sherrie recently joined my Pantomime Roadshow here in Llandudno at a Junior school in Deganwy, to see what we get up to on our annual Roadshow tours.

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Apart from Sherrie, I haven’t worked with the rest of the company, and have only met Keiran Powell and our Director John Payton before. So it’s new boy at school time!

We were greeted by John.A lovely chance to say Helloto everyone over coffee and a pastry! A definite feel of “Hiraeth” as we say in Wales. (it means home sick I suppose but it’s a feeling of coming home too!)

So- Here’s our Pantomime Company!

Our Director is John Payton, (John is from my area of Essex by the way). John has directed the VC pantomimes here for several year. His Stage Management team are- Our Company Stage  Manager, Helen Spall, Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) Kyla Miller, Technical Assistant Stage Manager Robert Laws, and Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) Jade Hunter.

Our Choreographer is Adam Haigh. Hopefully someone has mentioned to him I move like a tea trolley with a wonky wheel… He’ll find out soon enough!

Our Musical Director (MD) is Simon Pickering. Not here today, but joining us soon will be his musicians Neil Rowland on Drums and Steve Brickley on Bass Guitar. These two gents I have know for all my VC Pantomimes, and we make a pretty good Quiz team at The King’s Head!

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Wardrobe for this Pantomime will be headed by Rachel Schofield and Bethan Price. The large wardrobe boxes are already here at VC for fittings this week during the rehearsals. My costumes will be unloaded next Sunday and be shunted into the Quick Change area then. Mine should all fit- I hope!

I’ve mentioned Sherrie and Kieran, we were here with our Qdos Producer Jonathan Kiley in the Summer for press call. We had a very jolly time and started a three person comedy club- a shared love of silliness helped I think!  Keiran will be Muddles along with his Dinosaur Dave.


No prizes for guessing what routine these are used in!

So- Sherrie is Nurse Joyce,- star of Benidorm, Loose Women, Coronation Street, Crossroads, Carry on…so many films and series,   the list in endless- I am the Queen ,( I hope producers from The Crown & Netflix take note)  and Kieran/ Muddles comes to us from the High Seas where he has been performing for Disney. Muddles is best friend to my daughter (are you still with me?) who is Princess Beauty. This lovely Principal Girl is played by Harriet Bunton. Harriet arrives direct from playing Hodel in “Fiddler On The Roof”in the West End for Trevor Nunn at The Playhouse, and has appeared in Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You in the West End. I’ve got a talented Daughter- she takes after me.. If I could sing that is!

The Handsome Prince Harry is played by Adam Baker. Like me, Adam hails from Swansea in South Wales. We’ve both played The Swansea Grand Theatre- Adam was Prince in “Sleeping Beauty” there for Qdos. He has spent a lot of time in “The Swamp”, touring the UK and Ireland in “Shrek”.


Our Baddie- the evil fairy Carabosse is played by Jamie Birkett. Jamie has just finished the UK and Ireland tour of Les Miserable, and recently “The Play That Goes Wrong” – hopefully to be in The Panto that goes right!

The Fairy- called Aurora (Remember the Princess is Beauty) is Abiola Efunshile. She has recently toured with Clive Rowe “In The Willows” , a modern take on “Wind In The Willows” and in “Hair” and “Hairspray”.


Today we were all together in the room with our Ensemble- Damjan Mrackovich, Liam Dean and Megan Jupp, Annabelle Adey, Hannah Hartland,and Elle Lock. We won’t see them in our room for a few days as Adam takes them through the musical numbers and dance routines before they return to be “blocked in” to the scenes.

The Children are, as always from the Pearl Shaw School of Performing Arts, and our special “Secret” effect this year is being created by The Twins FX. Too early to reveal this though!

So now- it’s on with the rehearsing and we are in John’s hands as we start to block the show! By end of rehearsal john had blocked us througha big chunk of Act One. We carry on from there tomorrow at 10am!



One Comment
  1. Angie O'Grady permalink

    We were all so thrilled to have you start the boxing day dip at Llandudno; Much love and appreciation to you. Love the Mayor Angie and the Lions club x It was fab to meet you all at the Town Hall pop in if any of you are ever this way again. x

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