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First Day at School- Again!

Publicity Day 2 at The Kenneth More!


A very strange feeling, getting ready for tomorrow’s first day working in a Theatre since… Well, last Panto! I am so very very fortunate- the amazing efforts that have been made to bring some light into these dark Theatre-less days- From Michael Harrison, battling to put ten pantomimes into position while the Tiers change, to my mates out there who are still hoping their Christmas shows will make it to the stage-Damian, Nick and all the Qdos family awaiting news- to the incredible efforts of “Vision” who took a chance on installing live streaming equipment back in March, and who now present the Panto in my town- yes, it really IS two minutes walk from my house. Along a dual carriageway. Yes! I can sneak home between in full make-up with mask & hoody cloaked in darness!

Photo shoot outside the KMT

Tomorrow, as I’ve said in many a Dame Blog, is really the first day at school. Even more so this year, as there are new regs and rules to learn, and a socially distanced Panto to be experienced. It is my 46th Pantomime. My sixth here in the Theatre that for forty odd years was run by my Brother, Vivyan. I know this place so well. Peter Robbins used to call it “Your living room!”

The Ground Floor Bar

This picture shows me posed in what is now the downstairs bar. Year after year in the Summer months I used this space to co-ordinate the costumes I’d designed for the Annual panto here- spreading the costumes out, and this year I’ve just had to supply my own costumes, that have travelled a good fifty yards to the dressing room.

I’m in dressing room number two. The room I first dressed in with Peter when we did our first Cinderella together.Twenty Eight years passed.This was the same room when in 2009 I found myself solo after Peter had passed away, doing my Solo Dame “Snow White”.

Here I am again in that very same room in 2020 in “Snow White” and very very grateful.

I have my “Dame” tee shirt ready for rehearsals- designed by the very clever Dame David Dale- it means my Panto mates (no longer with us)Peter Robbins, Peter Thorne and Brian Godfrey will be with me, along with a collection of many other Panto Pals!

Number Two Dressing Room

So, tomorrow I’ll be socially distanced, called to rehearse as and when required, and sipping tea from my flask! I’m pretty much flying solo in the plot, and looking forward to some silly scenes with Karl Greenwood who plays my son, Muddles- Like Darren Hart he was here last year when the gorgeous Bobby Crush played Dame.

Tomorrow I’ll introduce everyone, and hope you enjoy this journey into the unknown territory of Socially Distanced Panto as the blog unfolds. It won’t be daily- we have two shows each and every day from Dec 9th to January 10th, but it will be bringing you the tale of backstage life at The KM Theatre!

Nighty Nighty!

Snow White – Trailer

Our trailer is live!

The Last Beauty Show!


The trucks are in place, the thoughts are on packing- the final two shows are upon us! A day when the matinee was full of very jolly people, and so was the evening- along with Theatre Manager Sarah Ecob and her party, to watch the final show. We all had a great deal of fun! The audience in particular loved the Bedroom antics and the 12 Days Of Christmas melee of toilet rolls being passed around the auditorium while Kieran set off in pursuit!

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Photo Paul Sampson

Document Conwy photographer Paul was backstage0 he’s been building up a portfolio of shots of life backstage, and documenting me in the life of a Dame backstage. Cant wait to see the results!


A great picture from the wings- Liam and me caught in mid “Copa”!

During the second show Christina did my packing, as indeed she has done for the past pantomimes, so that by the time I emerged from the shower and set foot onstage, everything was ready to go on the truck for Yorkshire. It stays there until Andrew Ryan’s panto ends in Birmingham on February 6th and then will return back to us. Thanks Christina- a stunning job once again!


The Stage just fifteen minutes after the curtain fell! The get-out is a major event, a real hard hat choreographed piece of engineering, undertaken by masters of their crafts! So impressive to watch!

Here are some of Paul Sampson’s Black & White shots of the last show:

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Meanwhile, Emma on the crew has taken on Dave The Dinosaur as Work Experience. Here is his journey around Venue Cymru trying out different skills in Stage Management and even Musical Direction!

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With the audience applause ringing in the ears the cast left the building pretty rapidly- there are some very long drives home tonight. I sorted my labels, and sorted my box of costumes and wigs I will be wearing here in twelve days time when I will be part of “take pART” here at Venue Cymru for two days. Royal walkabouts, selfies and comparing shows are part of my Dame’s remit!


The Remainers! The group of us that stayed over night, enjoying a few drinks at the Albert along with Helen & Al, missing from this photo. What a lovely friendly jolly bunch we’ve had here in Pantoland. A pleasure & a joy to work alongside. Same with the VC Crew and staff. Lovely to see Irene Bond today- Irene is a volunteer usher here at the Venue and dressed me in panto. Lovely to get a change to chat dogs and gardens with her once again!

SO HERE WE ARE-The end of our Panto journey! A great Panto crowd of people, and a good time had by Audiences and by us here at Llandudno. Diolch yn fawr iawn! Thank you SO much. Here’s to the next season of Pantoland.



Thank you for joining us on this trip through the magic that is Pantoland by following this Dames Daily Blog!

Postscript- New Year’s Eve 2019

A visit to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see a fabulous panto- “Snow White” with Lesley Joseph, Matt Slack, Joe McElderry, Faye Brookes, Andrew Ryan and Doreen Tipton, Jac Yarrow, Flawless, Craig Garner, Blake Lisle, Jamie John, Simeon Dyer, Josh Bennett, Greg Doherty George Coppen, along with Aaron Barker, Stephen Alexander (I did “Aladdin” with Stephen at Venue Cymru) Charley Da Silva, Joshua Cantrill, Elysia Pemberton, Joseph Malana, Lauren Key and Lucy Keenan.


New Year’s Eve in Pantoland- Brummie Style.



And Andrew Ryan’s Nurse Nanny Asprin!


Happy New Year!

Penultimate Beauty


Our amazing Crew here at Venue Cymru!

It takes around fifteen to twenty people in all to create Pantoland on stage- here are some of the Crew with a few omissions- Keith, Aidi, James are off today, but it shows that the strength of a show is in the Crew making it all happen, along with our Stage Management team, then Ushers, Box Office staff, Marketing, and all the “secret army” that create what you see on the stage. A Huge Diolch yn Fawr to these amazing people!

Two shows at 2pm and 7pm, with me rushing about pre-packing before Christina (front row second from left) will be chalking up her record fourth “get-out” for me, packing the costumes as they are finished with, so everything can head for the large transport trucks that are already parked by the Venue Dock Doors.

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Photo Paul Sampson

A big thanks to VC for arranging our farewell drinks get-together at Dylans next door, for Crew and cast to chill in a great atmosphere, and lovely to see the Colwyn Bay Company of “Aladdin” there, headed by Stuart and Libby! A great evening. We were joined by Sarah Ecob the Theatre Manager, and a great time was had by all.


SUNDAY 29th December 2019

Today is our final day! I am heading into Venue Cymru now for the 1pm show, and the second show will be a blur of packing. Hopefully if I have surfaced from a sea of boxes and dress rails I will report back on today. The most important thing to add to this is to say what an amazing and friendly talented cast and crew we have had here in “Sleeping Beauty”- A true joy to be with on our Panto journey!

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The Final Two Shows approach!

Beauty’s Relaxed Performance!

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Photo by @DocumentConwy

Friday 27th December 2019

Today was a matinee of our Relaxed Performance, where the Venue Cymru makes the building available to those who would possibly not otherwise visit the panto- the experience not being comfortable for those who find it a bit frightening, a bit stressful. The auditorium was transformed into an open space, seats removed allowing space to roam and wander- doors open, house lights to a quarter, and all the scary things like pyro flashes, loud effects music and generally loud noise removed. The auditorium becoming a place to have fun with others but in a safe environment.


Our gorgeous Ensemble ladies attend the Palace

I did a speech, more of a chat to the audience at the beginning of the show outlining of this this and emphasising that we are all pretending and all having fun together, and then the performance began. In addition to the 300 or so audience that this relaxed performance was aimed at, we were also joined by a further 800 or 900 audience members out to have fun over the Christmas Holidays.


The full Sleeping Beauty Ensemble backstage

The show was received amazingly, it was a joy to do and great responses throughout! I love these shows, and Theatres all over the UK are now doing them during the run.

I managed an hour in another part of Venue Cymru this morning- A Toy Fair.


A great find! A corgi model tram showing the Llandudno tram advertising Catlin’s Follies. The very building I bought this toy tram in stands on the site of Catlin’s Follies that were performed in the Arcadia Theatre- What a lovely historical connection! I’ve even stood on the real tram last Summer when it was brought to the Promenade for a recreation of Pierrots and Panto here in Llandudno. This is one for my cabinet!

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Photos by Paul Sampson

We had a visitor this matinee, Director David Lloyd Jones, a former resident of Llandudno. Great to see him again and catch up with all things Swansea too! He chatted to Sherrie- he Directed her panto at Sunderland about six years ago.

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Photos by Paul Sampson

Sherries family were in to see the show again- both last night and tonight- its a big family affair for her here in Llandudno!

Our 5pm show visit was from Qdos co-owners Nick and Sandra Thomas. Lovely to see them again- they are now en route to Hull to look in on that panto (sending my greetings to Simon Webbe) and Crewe with I think about another two to look in on as they head back towards Scarborough.

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Photo by Paul Sampson

A lovely meal and a few drinks with some of the company at The Albert tonight- one of my all time favourite pubs in this gorgeous town, then back to rest before the very last four shows left! Tomorrow we have two at 2pm and 7pm followed by our Panto leaving Party! We’ll join up with the Panto crowd from Theatr Colwyn there too- It will be lovely to see Stuart Loughland, Libby Edwards, Steve Bloor, Lukas Kirkby and the Magic Light Company at the “do” tomorrow.

Tomorrow later time of 2pm and 7pm.

Beauty’s Boxing Day!


The Great Orme!

Christmas Day for many was a day spent after driving vast distances across the country. Elle and the girls drove to Brighton and back to be with families, Liam and Kieran, Helen, Sherrie, Will, Harriet & Jamie and Rachel & Bethan all drove . I was lucky, my family and friends came here to see the Panto and to spend Christmas Day at the Hotel, joined by Andrew Ryan. They then returned Boxing Day to see Peter Pan at Birmingham Rep and Snow White (with Andrew) at the Hippodrome in the evening.

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Up The Orme- Andrew, Vivyan, Nigel & Owen 

Adam played chef for the remainers-He cooked up a storm in the Ensemble digs. Here they are enjoying the Baker Feast 2019!


I had a great Christmas, loving the fact that my Hotel was full of dogs. Paradise! We ventured up the Orme and along the Prom. A great relaxing day.

Boxing Day Dippers!

I had promised Angela OGrady Mayor of Llandudno that I would be on hand at 11am to launch the Boxing Day DFip in the Sea! It is an annual event- for over 26 years, organised for Charity by the British Lions. I arrived at The St George’s to judge the fancy Dress Competition of bathers Pre dip. Winners were a group of Santa’s Reindeers, Second was Pamela Andreson & The Hoff, and third were two Wonder Women!


Me and The Mayor. She went into the sea too!

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The Festive Dippers!

All praise to those brave folk who plunged into minus goodness knows what to raise funds for charities!

I had to make a hasty retreat to the Theatre for our 1am show. Great houses for both shows- lots of Adults and consequently lots of laughs. We have fun the audience and us up on stage. It is a party- and both houses had a great Boxing Day!

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Both sets of the Pearl Shaw Juvenile Dancers have had Christmas Parties- Thanks for the invites girls!

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Photo by Paul Sampson.

We also had our Secret Santa today- held on stage after the matinee, before the Babes Party and I still found time for a doze and a tidy up and a pre pack before the 5pm show!

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Secret Santa on stage

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The packing has started!We finish in three short days!

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A Whirlwind of Babes Parties, Secret Santas and shows! Photo Paul Sampson

Time has flown, and now as we near the end of a hugely happy season, the time is positively racing! On Sunday during the last show Christina will be doing my packing as she has done each time I’ve appeared here! By 7.30pm it will all be ready for the van!

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Photo courtesy of Paul Sampson.

Tomorrow is our Relaxed Performance at 1pm followed by a 5pm show. I love relaxed performances, and the fact that we can reach out to audiences that otherwise not wish to sit through a show. Its a really great feel good show we have ahead of us!

BeautyChristmas Greetings!


Photo by Paul Sampson

The Twelve Days of Christmas  Routine, seen above has almost completed- today is the 23rd December- I’m writing this in haste on the morning of the 24th- Christmas Eve in a calm and peaceful Llandudno!


Yesterday saw our two panto shows at the now usual 1pm and 5pm. Very well received and a lot of fun was had with our audiences, letting them into the fun and I think demonstrating what a happy company of strolling players we are, enjoying each others company both on and off stage. I think that comes over very strongly.

Paul Sampson the photographer was in the wings taking some shots to be shared later of life backstage. Waiting for me after was James Arnott, who has been seeing quite a few Pantomimes, including the lavish Palladium this season. He is now responsible for a magazine devoted to the intrinsic British art of Punch & Judy.


After the show I joined Sherrie and her family (I think there were about fourteen of them) for a glorious meal at the St George’s on the promenade. A lovely family Christmas affair!


Photo by Paul Sampson

For now I’ll leave you with Christmas Greetings from all of us here in Llandudno- Two shows today then joined here by friends and family for Christmas Day. Here’s to all of you travelling on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Merry Christmas!


Beauty- Three Sleeps!


The Little Orme & Sam The Seagull

Sunday 22nd December

A two show 1pm and 5pm show today on a Sunday. Packed houses and a lot of adults, so a joyous response to the gags and routines and again you can’t beat a ghost gag for the kids!


Photo Paul Sampson @DocumentConwy

We had a visitor today- Jake Hind from Qdos- lovely to see him again. He’s en route from us to Crewe Panto, and called in to see the Matinee.


Abiola as Fairy Aurora in Act Two

We’ve lots of friends and family in the audiences now as we near Christmas- Harriet’s Mum was in, and Kieran has friends in- Sherrie’s family are due tomorrow. My Brother Vivyan and our friend Owen arrive Christmas Eve to see the show- Owen has jusDirected the Panto at The Kenneth More Theatre Ilford with our mate Bobby Crush playing Dame. Vivyan of course ran the KMT until his retirement, directing forty odd years of Panto there.


Photo @DocumentConwy 

A few of the Cast here will be heading for Chez Prince Harry, AKA Adam where I believe he will be cooking up a storm! I have huge admiration for Panto troupers all over the UK who manage to turn digs into homes and take the time to shop and prepare and cook when far away from home. It is always the lot of the Panto performer since Victorian times. God Bless them one and all!


Its Behind You! Photo Paul Sampson

It was cooler backstage today- outside it was breezy, which was a lot more comfortable than yesterday. My mate Nigel Catmur is still next door, lighting the massive choral evening for S4C in the Arena, and leaves tomorrow for home.


The Prince & Princess Harriet and Adam. Photo Paul Sampson

A group of us headed for “The Albert” for an evening of food and drinks before heading to our various abodes. One of the great things about a 5pm show is you can still get a meal after! Tomorrow (Monday) the same- 1pm and 5pm.


Nighty Nighty! Photo Paul Sampson



Beauty twice daily!

IMG_1437My My Walk to work

A glorious calm day here in Llandudno- actually too warm in the Theatre- didn’t expect to be typing THAT in December! The sun was shining and the town looks lovely- independant shops doing a roaring trade, restaurants and all. I had a brief wander before heading in for our grown ups shows, now the schools shows have finished. Its back to that demographic of gags getting laughs where they didnt in school shows, and the “accidentals” in the show get bit woofs of laughter. The Ghost gag and twelve days worked so well both shows today. Nice atmosphere.


Photo by Paul Sampson

Yesterday was a day off- just as well for those who ventured out on the Twelve Pubs of Christmas tour the night before! A VERY Merry time was had apparently!

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Photos by Paul Samson

Today Will and Robert and Kieran arrived in my room between shows- Will having bought cream tea a plenty – so we sat and scoffed scones, jam and cream and sipped tea in between the 2pm and 7pm shows! A treat! Lesley Joseph if you are reading this, THIS is your idea of heaven!

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The Walkdown: Photos by Paul Sampson

Talking of Lesley- The Birmingham Hippodrome “Snow White” opened today. Andrew Ryan kept me abreast of the proceedings, and they got a glorious standing ovation and opened to a great reception. Here are a few photos- some of Andrew posing with the Bullring’s Bull, decked out as a Bovine Dame. The Statue that is. Not Andrew! I look forward to seeing the show and spending New Years Eve with The Brum company next week!


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Andrew Ryan at The Bullring

Met up with my chum Nigel Catmur at The Imperial again tonight- second night running. He’s lighting the SC4 Carol concert and shows at the VC Arena over the next few days. Great to see him again.

Both our shows went down very well today, great reaction, and lovely to get that crackle from the demographic of mixed adult and children both enjoying the show andboth adults and kids getting “The Full Monty”!. I had a wig malfunction tonight when in reacting to Kieran and Sherry in my haunted bed, my wig decided to adhere itself to the pillow as if by velcro. I didnt realise for a few seconds, thinking the big laugh was aimed at Kieran, then felt a draught where my wig SHOULD be! I was sitting up in bed with just a stocking top and a microphone exposed!

Tomorrow 1pm and 7pm.


Beauty has visitors!

Wednesday 18th/Thursday 19th December 2019

Both Wednesday and Thursday shows are for schools- packed to the rafters, around 1,400 very loud excited school children, and each show Queen Myfanwy picks her boyfriend (and future Consort) from one of  the terrified male teachers in the house!


Photo Paul Sampson

Good to get waves from the schools we were recently visiting with Venue Cymru’s Pantomime Roadshow, and one of today’s was Ysgol Tudno, a Roadshow regular, and every day Sherrie reads out the list of schools with names getting increasingly longer each time!

Wednesday was dresser Natasha’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Natasha, and thank you for the home made chocolate cookies!


Natasha – Birthday Girl!

Show at 10.30am and at 2pm now until a day off on Friday- This is the day the schools break up, and it’s not a good day to sell tickets to the Panto- school carol concerts and the like- so Thursday 2pm saw the last Schools performances. We’ve played to very many from Clwyd, and the decibel level in the Ghost Gag defies description! In the script we have to say “well next time you’ll have to scream louder!” and it reaches a crescendo of 1,400 screams. The oldest gag maybe in Panto and the best I reckon!


Photo @DocumentConwy Paul Sampson

On Wednesday night we met up at “Characters Restaurant”, run by Sherrie’s Brother Brett and Sister-in-law Annie. We had a gorgeous “Steak On A Stone” experience with Fish, steak or Veggie options sizzling on a stone at your table. It was hammering it down with rain outside- a very cosy experience with Panto folk – a very lovely evening.



Visitors on Thursday. In the first show Lee Redwood arrived having driven the length of the country- so good to see him and catch up with his news from his two “Made To Measure” pantomimes- Weymouth which has opened, with Lee as Fairy Godmother and Wimbourne which is about to open. He had some amazing and nostalgic photos of Weymouth- during the Summer Lee bought the Cinderella costumes (my designs and a lot of Margaret Brice creations) and also he has in his safe keeping some of the  the costumes that Peter Robbins and I wore as Sisters. It was very touching to see them worn as pairs at Weymouth. Such memories! Lovely to see you Lee and thank you for driving all this way as you do every year!


Our Panto producer Jonathan Kiley came to see the show this afternoon. He’s already Directed Glasgow, seen Wycombe, Northampton, Milton Keynes and many many others, and after leaving us he heads to Brighton and back to Hull before the week-end!


Photo Paul Sampson

A good show, with a mix of children and Pensioners, with the children in the majority, all VERY excited about their pre- Christmas breaking up from school treat!

The hardier members of the company are heading off for the 12 pubs of Christmas journey through Llandudno- and there are many glorious pubs, real old fashioned log fired, dogs sprawling pubs to visit. Sherrie & I had a quiet dinner at Dylans, and headed back to the Hotel for a welcomed early night.

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Photos by Paul Sampson

Birmingham is in full tech rehearsals tonight, I thought of them as I lay under the duvet dreaming of a day off tomorrow. They are about to open and my mind is already dwelling on packing here at V.C. Lovely to see Ben, formerly of Wycombe Crew up to visit Kieran and to see our panto. Saw some pictures of Wycombe panto and it looks stunning!

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Photos @DocumentConwy Paul Sampson

A day off looking around the town tomorrow, and probably taking tea and eating Bara Brith overlooking the sea. It’s a hard life!