STANLEY BAXTER IN PANTOMIME

On November 1st 2020 a new biography of Stanley Baxter by Brian Beacom was published. The title “The Real Stanley Baxter”. At the age of 94 Stanley Baxter ranks as one of Television’s greatest stars, and the biggest star to ever headline Scottish Pantomimes- from 1949 through to 1992.

Stanley Baxter at home in Highgate

Here at its-behind-you.com we pay tribute to one of the finest Pantomime Dame’s to grace the stage with a list of all his pantomimes, and a few memories from two of his Principal Boys. The list is ongoing, and as more information comes in, we’ll be adding to Stanley Baxter in Pantomime!

Stanley Baxter’s career in television and film is well documented- he topped the ratings for both the BBC and ITV with his shows and his Christmas specials brought Hollywood to our screen, each year more and more lavish. The Pantomimes, however, are not so well documented.

Before the list, here are a few facts about the man who started his performing career as a child in his native Glasgow, where he was born on May 24th 1926.

A child actor for BBC Scotland Children’s Hour, from the age of 7 he toured Glasgow’s Church Halls doing impersonations, with his Mother accompanying on the piano. His impressions included Harry Lauder and Mae West, who he had not even seen! At the age of 14 he was Broadcasting on BBC Radio Children’s Hour.

 His Sister Alice Dale appeared in revues and Pantomimes. She was the first female DJ on Scots Radio, The Home Service.

Stanley was called on for National Service, and joined The C S Entertainment Unit alongside Kenneth Williams, Peter Nichols and John Schlesinger. Peter Nichols was later to use these experiences in his play “Privates On Parade”.

As an actor Stanley joined the Glasgow Citizens Theatre in repertory and performed plays, revues and appeared in their Revue style Pantomimes for three Years. His first experience of pantomime began with the 1949 production, The Tin Toc Cup

PANTOMIMES 1949 to 1992

1949-50                Citizens Theatre            The Tin Toc Cup                                (five months panto/review) Stanley Baxter played one of The broker’s Men in this fantasy pantomime.

1950-51               Citizens Theatre                               Red Riding Hood              (as part of the Rep Season)

It was in this production BBC Producer Eddie Fraser saw Stanley in “Red Riding Hood” at the Citz, and booked him to appear with Jimmy Logan .Logan’s catphrase was “Sausages is the Boys!” and Baxter’s was “If you want me Thingummy, Ringummy!”

1951-52                Citizens Theatre                               The Happy Hap’ny           Played Dame  in a Sketch, playing  Dame Bess in  “Corgi & Bess”  . “Stanley Baxter as Dame Bess buys a most obstreperous scooter!” with Joan Sims, Molly Urqart, James Cairncross, Peter Bryant, Robert Cartland, Madeleine Christie, Joan Scion, Abe Barker and Joan Seton.  Ran from   Dec 20th to March 15th. (The panto run was extended).

1952-53                Royal Glasgow                  Cinderella           Stanley Baxter as Buttons.

Cast: Bartlett & Ross (Ugly Sisters) Carol Eric (Prince) Hope Jackman (Dandin) Nicolette Roeg (Cinderella) Bond Rowell (Baron)Rolly & Arry (Hattie The Horse), Peta Parry (Bear), Elizabeth Millar, Irene Reid, June Goss, David Hamilton with Lawson’s Ponies, Jack Bolesworth & His Orchestra. Stewart Cruikshank Presented, Freddie Carpenter Produced.

(Freddie Carpenter produced Glasgow Cinderella, Edinburgh Robinson Crusoe (with Douglas Byng & Jimmy Logan) Newcastle Theatre Royal (Puss In Boots) and Liverpool (George Lacy in Queen Of Hearts).

“Stanley Baxter, Judging from the first night’s reception has won a special place for himself. He has an engaging sense of humour and proves himself a comedian of real ability”

 “His Drummer sketch is original and witty, as is his song “Glasgow”. As Buttons he adds considerably to the value of the show.”

“The Wedding Fete- The period court gowns are a symphony in a soft pastel pink, topped with black velvet bodice, and the Prince and Princess look most impressive in ivory and pink toned costumes” Songs for Prince & Cinderella included: “Here In My Heart” and “I’ll Follow my secret heart”

The Panto ran from 5th December to March 21st 1953

1953-54                King’s Edinburgh              Aladdin         George Lacy as Widow Twankey,  Stanley Baxter as Wishee Washee

Cast:   Nicolett Roeg (Aladdin), Barbara Leigh (Princess), Bond Rowell (Vizier), Peter Croft (Abanazar), Allan Christie (Emperor), Bruce McClure- “From the Celtic Ballet”  (Genie), Joanna Rigby (Ring Genie), Ghezzi Brothers, (a ladder suspension Act), Katherine Feather (So Shy), Jon Denning, The James Turner Singers, Doreen Austin Dancers, Ray Gort & his Orchestra.

A  sixteen year old dancer in this production was Valerie Singleton- later of “Blue Peter” fame on BBC TV.

Décor & Costumes by Berkeley Sutcliff. Produced by Freddie Carpenter. Howard & Wyndham.

The clever young Scots comedian Stanley Baxter makes a big hit as Wishee Washee. His individual style and happy friendliness meet with warm approval, and he gains a hearty response to his chorus song “The Bungalow That Bob The Builder Built”  –

Bob The Builder before his time!

The emphasis is on spectacle and colour” “An amazing number of elaborate costumes, all strikingly original are displayed by George Lacy as Widow Twankey, a Sheer Joy. A clever washing medley and a whirlwind chasing of the Dame by the Policemen…”

Songs for Nicolette Roeg as Aladdin included “I’m A Street Boy” and “No two people have ever been so in love”.

1954-55                Royal Glasgow                  Aladdin                 Alec Finlay (Widow Twankey) Stanley Baxter (Wishee Washee)

Cast: Nicolette Roeg  (Aladdin) Bond Rowell (Vizier) Ghezzi Brothers, Peter Croft (Abanazar) Bruce McClure (Genie), Katherine Feather (So Shy) Joanna Rigby (Ring Genie) from the previous year joined by Lucille Graham (Princess) and Alistair McHarg (Emperor)

This was Alec Finlay’s debut as Dame and his Howard & Wyndham Pantomime debut.

The debut of Alec Finlay as Dame at the Theatre Royal Glasgow is a success, so is his teaming with young Stanley Baxter”

Freddie Carpenter produced/Directed – this season he directed five Howard & Wyndham Pantomimes- Aladdin at Glasgow Royal, Goldilocks with Jimmy Logan at the Glasgow Alhambra, Dick Whittington at The King’s Edinburgh with Harry Gordon, Puss In Boots at The Royal Court Liverpool with George Lacy and Robinson Crusoe at Newcastle with Douglas Byng & Albert Burdon.

1955-56                Alhambra Glasgow         Cinderella           Alec Finlay & Stanley Baxter as The Ugly Sisters.

Cast: Reg Varney (Buttons),  Louis Green (Cinderella), Joy Turpin (Prince), Bond Rowell (Baroness Overdrawn), Babs McKinnon (Dandini), Kenneth McKellar, Domini Callaghan & Michel Le Lutry (Dance speciality), George Neil, Johhny Rae, Ruby Vining’s Famous Ponies.

Produced & directed by Freddie Carpenter for Howard & Wyndham.

Scenes included “The Land of Crystal”, “Rainbow Land” and “The Rose Pavilion”. Prince & Cinderella duets included “Stars shine in your eyes” and “Gay Is My Heart” 

For comedy, one thanks the Ugly Sisters, an admirable pair with Alec Finlay’s pawky humour contrasting well with that of Stanley Baxter. This is a new Baxter- assured, poised, and more settled in his comedy style than he has ever been”

“These two steal the show with their ingenious often stylish costumes. The “Charleston Burlesque,” and Slapstick in the bedroom were beautifully timed and well done”.

“Newcomer Reg Varney establishes himself here with his engaging humour and happy style”

It was to be five years later that television fame came to Reg Varney- First BBC’s “The Rag Trade” and later in 1969 “On The Buses”, the LWT sitcom that made him a household name.

1956-57                King’s Edinburgh              Cinderella           Alec Finlay & Stanley Baxter as The Ugly Sisters.

Cast: Joy Turpin (Prince),  Bond Rowell (Baroness),George Neil (Baron)  and Domini Callaghan & Michel De Lutry from the previous year, joined by Andy Stewart (Buttons) Betty Shaw (Cinderella), Stella Lowe (Dandini), Briget Clare (Fairy Godmother), Alistair McHarg (Replacing Kenneth McKellar singing) and Ruby Vining’s Famous Ponies.

Directed/Produced by Freddie Carpenter, Décor by Anthony Holland. Presented by Howard & Wyndham. The Orchestra on the opening night was conducted by Geraldo.

Many hilarious scenes are provided by Alec Finlay and Stanley Baxter as The Ugly Sisters”

“One of the best pantomimes seen in Edinburgh for over a period of many years”

The Scenes included a Revolving Stage, a vivid Red and White Hunting Scene, and the Crystal Coach and ponies.

The Prince & Cinderella duets included: “I see everything I love in you”, “More” and “Woman In Love”. The Panto ran from December 5th 1956 to late  February  1957.

1957-58                Alhambra Glasgow         Mother Goose  Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose. Duncan Macrae as Duncan McDrookit.

This was Stanley Baxter’s first solo Dame for Howard & Wyndham.

Cast:      Fay Lenore (Colin), Kenneth McKellar,(Larry The Pupeteer),  Mary Millar (Jill),  Peter Johnson & Rena Steele,(Principal Dancers),  Marjorie Holt,(Witch), Denise Shaune,( Fairy Queen),  Tony Snape,( The Goose),  Maryon Leslie and The Six Flying de Pauls.

The Flying de Pauls-Six Australian girls leaping and tumbling to tremendous reaction in a circus scene”  The Pantomime featured a Circus scene and a Mardi Gras scene.

Freddie Carpenter Directing, Choreography by Ross Taylor, Costumes by Anthony Holland. The Geraldo Orchestra. Written by John Law. The Panto Ran from November 22nd  through to 16th March 1958.

Originally planned in May as “Humpty Dumpty” with Stanley Baxter and Duncan Macrae, it was later changed to Mother Goose.

“Stanley Baxter as Minnie Menzies, backed by a wide range of ingenious costumes. His cod strongman act with Duncan Macrae is a highlight”

During the long run Stanley Baxter developed Laryngitis, and for two nights in late January Marjorie Holt, playing Witch stepped into his role.

Howard & Wyndham had four pantomimes directed by Freddie Carpenter that season. “Goldilocks” at the Royal Court Liverpool introduced pop sensation Tommy Steele to Panto.

Freddie Carpenter said in an interview for “The Stage” that Principal Boys of the next decade will be played by boys. He was pretty accurate as the era of the male pop star as Principal Boy took hold!

Dickie Valentine played Buttons at Newcastle Theatre Royal, with Father and son Albert and Bryan Burdon as Ugly Sisters, while Jimmy Logan starred in “Babes In The Wood” at The King’s Edinburgh that season.

Down the road at the Glasgow Empire Tom Arnold presented “Cinderella”- it starred Alec Finlay, Chic Murray and Mike and Bernie Winters, alongside Ford & Sheen and Margo Henderson. On Opening night it ran four hours and twenty minutes! “We were lucky to get out at Midnight” (The Stage 1957.

1958 was the year of the Scottish Royal Variety Show. Stanley Baxter appeared as one of the headliners.

1958-59                King’s Edinburgh              Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose (Minnie Menzies) .Jack Anthony joined the show as Laird McDrookit.

Cast: Joining Stanley from the previous year were Fay Lenore (Colin), Tony Snape (Goose), Marjorie Holt (Witch), Denise Shaun (Fairy Queen), Peter Johnson (Principal Dancer) with the new company  Alistair McHarg (Replacing Kenneth McKellar as singing Puppeteer), Elizabeth Moscrop (Principal Dancer) and The Dunja Duo (Boy and Girl Acrobatic Act).

The Pantomime ran from December 5th and was extended to February 14th 1959. The Pantomime included a cod ballet with Jack Anthony and Stanley Baxter,as Laird & Dame,  and a slapstick paste-throwing “Papering the Wall” scene. The Transformation at The Pool of Beauty saw Minnie Menzies become a teenager-

“Stanley Baxter transforms into a Rock & Roll Teen, with jeans and pony tail- a tour de force for this versatile comedian”

Stanley Baxter was now aged thirty, and had been in “Show Business” for twenty-three years.

The end of this Season marked the end of the continuous runs of Pantomimes in Glasgow and Edinburgh for Stanley Baxter. He had appeared in Seven Howard & Wyndham Pantomimes .

In February 1958 Stanley signed up for a BBC Television series to be filmed in London. He swapped flats with the singing Star Eve BOSWEll- She took his in Glasgow, and he stayed in her flat in London’s Swiss Cottage, close to the BBC. In May 1959 he began his Fortnightly series called “On The Bright Side”.

Stanley Baxter appeared in many of Howard & Wyndhams long running Summer Shows – “Five Past Eight” shows, and “Half Past Eight” Shows. The revues were a honing ground for comedy sketches, and the comedy routines could change during the long seasons. They became more and more spectacular as time went on, with swimming pools on stage, and vegas style effects. The tradition began back in the mid 1920’s, and here are a few of the bills.

Stanley Baxter & Rikki Fulton

1966-67                Alhambra Glasgow         Cinderella           Stanley Baxter with Ronnie Corbett as Natalie & Sophia, The Ugly Sisters. Lonnie Donegan as Buttons.

Cast: Lynn Kennington (Prince), Paula Hendrix (Cinderella), Jackie Sands (Dandini), Arlette (Crystal Fairy),and Tony Hulbert (Principal Dancer),  Graham Squire (Baron), Kalman Glass (Baroness), William Redmond (Chamberlain), Louida Vaughan, The O’Keefe Brothers (Hettie The Horse), The Peter Darrell Dancers, Arthur Blake Singers, The Geraldo Orchestra.

Produced & Directed by Freddie Carpenter for Howard & Wyndham. Scenery & Costumes Berkley Sutcliffe, Choreography Peter Darrell.

The Pantomime ran from December 19th 1966 to March 1967.

Stanley Baxter made his return to Pantomime eight years after his success in “Mother Goose”.

Over in Edinburgh Jimmy Logan made his return to pantomime in “Goldilocks” after an absence of seven years.

This pantomime saw Edinburgh born Ronnie Corbett in his first leading role in a Scottish show. He was already a West End and television star with appearances on “The Frost Report” and “Sunday Night at The London Palladium”. He spent two years with Harry Secombe there, and appeared at Drury Lane in “The Boys From Syracuse” with both Lynn Kennington and Paula Hendrix.

Jackie Sands had appeared with Ronnie frequently at Danny La Rue’s Club, Churchill’s Club and on tours. She came to this pantomime direct from The Whitehall Theatre London, appearing in Danny La Rue’s “Come Spy With Me”. As Dandini she sang “It’s just The gypsy In My Soul” with the Palace Maids.

“When the day ever comes for someone to assess the Cinderella’s of Pantomime seasons, the 1966-1967 production of Cinderella by Freddie Carpenter with Berkley Sutcliffe’s scenery and costumes at The Alhambra Glasgow will rate near the top of the list for colour, beauty, enchantment, musical tunefulness and the talent of its principals”.

 Glasgow born Lonnie Donegan – “The King Of Skiffle”-performed his hit chart numbers in the show in a barn scene where Buttons entertained the villagers.He sang the Formby number “Auntie Maggie’s Remedy” to open, and later He his hit “Have A Drink On Me” and “My Old Man’s A Dustman”, his Number 1 hit from 1960.

“Stanley Baxter finds his true forte as Ugly Sister Natalie, while little Ronnie Corbett and his mincing steps is the ideal contrast as Sophia”

*Kalman Glass played Baroness-“Kalman Glass is  A motherly magnificently imperious as Cinderella’s Step-Mother”-

 A larger than life character actor I worked with him at the Haymarket, Leicester when he played Squire and King Of Gooseland  in “Mother Goose ten years after this pantomime. At the time he explained to me the tradition of a Baroness in “Cinderella” in addition to the Ugly Sisters. He told me it “drew fire” from the “Sisters”, enabling them to be funny and less nasty- a tradition that stayed in Scotland after it vanished from other regions.

“When these two Scots team with that other exiled Scot, Lonnie Donegan for a final comedy scene in the Baron’s house, it is a high spot in entertainment”.

1967-68                Kings Edinburgh               Cinderella           Stanley Baxter and Ronnie Corbett as The Ugly Sisters.

Cast:      Transferred from the previous year-Lynn Kennington (Prince), Louida Vaughn (Fairy Godmother), Kalman Glass (Baroness) Graham Squire (Baron), joined by David Kernan (Buttons), Veronica Page (Cinderella) Pauline Garnee (Dandini) Leigh Foster & Vreni Zullig, Paul Imbusch with The Norman Maen Dancers and the Arthur Blake Singers. The Geraldo Orchestra.

Directed by Freddie Carpenter for Howard & Wyndham. Designed by Berkley Sutcliffe. The Pantomime ran from December 7th 1967 and was extended to February 17th 1968.

The magic of pantomime is as well realised at the Edinburgh Kings as it can be, essentially because all the factors of good panto are provided from three sources- The Director, Freddie Carpenter, The Designer Berkley Sutcliffe and the performers who have both talent and charm”

“Stanley Baxter and Ronnie Corbett both have warmth and a sense of character which is neatly proportioned to their parts as the Ugly Sisters”

Berkley Sutcliffe’s costumes are luxurious and his comic costumes are witty in content, instead of being ridiculous. The two comics recognise this advantage, and they play their parts in delighful caricature  rather than nonsensical exaggeration”

HOWARD & WYNDHAM THEATRES SOLD

In 1965 Glasgow Council bought The King’s Theatre from Howard & Wyndham. The company had been run by Chairman and Managing Director A. Stewart Cruikshank, with offices at The King’s Edinburgh and London.

In 1904 they built the King’s Glasgow, and created the largest company of quality theatre in Britain. They held shares in Moss Empires, and were major shareholders in HM Tennent & Co, and later were shareholders in STV.

As well as a Pantomime realm that included Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool, as well as Dundee, Aberdeen and The Royal Court Nottingham. Their Pantomimes, dated back to 1888, and H&W was also responsible for Summer seasons  – the first being at The Glasgow King’s in 1933. The “Five Past Eight” and “Half Past Eight” summer shows  featured the top Scottish stars.

In the 1970’s Glasgow and Edinburgh councils jointly funded a pantomime sharing scheme, made possible through the huge financial successes of the Stanley Baxter Pantomimes.

In 1978 Charles Tripp for Edinburgh District Council offered hire of scenery, costumes, wigs, properties, scripts and scores for “Jack & The Beanstalk” (Designer Henry Bardon), “Sleeping Beauty” & “Aladdin”, (Tim Goodchild), and “Sinbad” (Designer Berkeley Sutcliffe) to UK Theatres. The following year both councils offered a choice of these plus “Cinderella” for hire at £8,000 for the entire production. The only offer received was from Sunderland (Sleeping Beauty).

By 1980 Glasgow and Edinburgh joined forces with Sunderland Council as partners in their “Pantomime Co-Operation” scheme.

1970-71                King’s Edinburgh              Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose. (Minnie McNiven)

Cast: John Grieve, (Hector McTumshie),  Ian Paterson, (Larry)  Patricia Michael (Colin) , Frances Barlow (Jill), Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose), Gaby Vargas,( Queen Of Darkness)  Jean Hampson, (Fairy Queen Of Light),  The Five Hussani, Brian McNultty,(The Landlord).

 The Bruce McCLure Dancers: James Hastie (Ballet Master,)  John Gillespie, Bryan Jacobs, Harry Murray, Morag Alexander, Pat Armet, Elizabeth Cavers, Patricia Goodburn, Susan Massey, Carole Robertson, Gillian Sherman, Dorothy Stewart, Rebecca Walker, Victoria Wynn.

 The Bruce McClure Singers: Brian McNulty, Kenneth Thompson, Rachelle Armonde, Jane Coull, Monica Hoyer, Allison MacGregor . Kirby’s Flying Effects.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McCLure for Howard & Wyndham. Scenery by Reg Allen, Lighting Bill Cousins.

“Like a sumptuous Christmas Dinner!” (The Stage January 1971)

The Pantomime ran from December 19th 1970 to End Of February 1971.

“As the star of the panto Stanley Baxter is an ideal choice for such a family entertainment. His sheer comic genius, plus a bewildering succession of costume changes is hugely entertaining for the youngsters, while the older folk are able to relish his skill and artistry as a mimic, not least in his devastating impersonation of Marlene Dietrich.”

He performed his “Parliamo Glasgow” sketch, made famous in his TV Series. Ian Paterson presented a Harry Lauder tribute and audience sing-a-long.

“As Stanley Baxter’s foil, John Grieve wins lots of laughs with his own inimitable mournful style of humour”

Patricia Michael and Frances Barlow make an ideal Principal Boy and Girl, while Kay Lyell waddles realistically as Priscilla The Goose”

Patricia Michael –  Leading Lady  of The  West End  and one of the finest Principal Boys in Pantomime – trained at the Elmhurst Ballet School from 1952 until 1958 then graduated to Guildhall School of Music and Drama, leaving in 1960.

Patricia Michael

By then, she had already begun to establish herself as a favourite in pantomime, debuting as one of six Clarkson Rosebuds in Clarkson Rose’s Robinson Crusoe in Exeter in 1957, followed by Fairy Godmother in a Southsea production of Cinderella with John Hanson (with whom she would go on to one of her great successes). In fact, she worked consistently in pantomime throughout her career, playing principal boy to, among others, Ken Dodd, Stanley Baxter (4 times) and Jimmy Logan.

The same year, she became one of the Crackerjack Team on BBC childrens’ television as a hostess-singer and by Christmas 1960 she was playing the title role in Robinson Crusoe at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, and Dandini in “Cinderella” at Bromley.

For more detail’s of her career in theatre and musicals, take a look at http://patriciamichael.net/ and put the speakers on to hear that glorious voice!

Her West end credits include “Fiorello!” At The Piccadilly Theatre, “How to Succeed in Business without really trying” at The Shaftesbury Theatre, “ Polly in “The Boy Friend” at The Comedy Theatre, The Desert Song at The Palace Theatre, “Gone With The Wind” at Drury Lane, and the role of Anna in “The King & I” at the Adelphi, followed by the title role in “Irene” again at the Adelphi ,”The Mitford Girls” at The Globe Theatre, and her final west End appearance in “Peg” at The Phoenix Theatre.

Patricia’s final Pantomime appearance was with Danny La Rue in 1984 playing Principal Boy in “Mother Goose”, and shortly afterwards she left for The United States to appear in Theatre,and in recent years introduced the art of British Pantomime into America presenting traditional Pantomime Stateside! Patricia Michael is alive and well and still living in The United States of America!

1971-72                                King’s Glasgow                 Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose

Cast: As previous year- John Grieve, (Squire), Ian Paterson,(The Puppeteer)  Patricia Michael (Colin), Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose) and the SEVEN Hussani. Joining the company were Georgina Gilman,(Crystal Fairy),  Claire Herbert,( Jill),  and  Cynthia Grenville. (The Witch- Queen Of Darkness).

Directed by Bruce McLure for Howard & Wyndham.

Prior to this pantomime Bruce MacLure directed “The Stanley Baxter Show” or Howard & Wyndham at His Majesty’s Aberdeen, a month long run.

The pantomime ran from 24th December to the end of February 1972

*There is no copy of the Christmas reviews in the Stage Archive for 13th January 1972 . The cast list is from the stage weekly listing. It is not the full cast list.

Local Press: “It’s Baxter at his best!”

Stanley Baxter returned home last night  to his warmest welcome ever”

Kay Lyell who played “Priscilla The Goose” had been appearing as a Goose or Pantomime Animal since 1953. Scots born, she was the daughter of a Doctor in Perth. By the time of this pantomime she had played animals onstage for seventeen years.

She began as a dancer in the Howard & Wyndham Pantomimes.

In later years I stored Kay’s Goose Costume at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford. She lived in a tiny flat in the heart of the West End, very close to “Theatre Zoo” (a co-incidence!) that specialised in Animal costumes. She really needed the space during the year, so I stored “Priscilla” with her bonnets, bibs and webbed feet for many years. Kay would have it collected each season.

Kay appeared with Patricia Michael in this Mother Goose, (1970 and 1971) and again in Plymouth in 1984 with Patricia Michael again as Colin and Danny La Rue as Mother Goose. That would have been Kay’s 31st year as A Pantomime Animal Speciality!

1972-73                Newcastle Theatre Royal              Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose, Bernard Bresslaw and Mark Wynter (Colin. Principal Boy).

Cast: Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose), Melanie Munro (Jill), Louise Pajo,(Fairy Queen)  Monica Hoyer, (Witch) The Seven Hussani, The Wychwoods, Brian McNulty, Joyce McCrindle.

The First Stanley Baxter Pantomime South of The Border!

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure for Howard & Wyndham. Sets & Costumes Anthony Holland. Stage Director Russel Laing, Musical Director Ivan Dozin. The Panto Opened on December 19th 1972.

All the glitter glamour, gaiety and fun of the traditional Christmas Pantomime, the kind without a string of variety acts, are part and parcel of the festive offering at The Royal”

This Pantomime echoed the prediction of Stanley’s former Director, Freddie Carpenter, when he said Principal Boys would be played by men within a decade. Mark Wynter played Colin in this production.

“Stanley Baxter- One of the best Pantomime Dame performances in the business”

The Press especially praised his appearance as Marlene Dietrich, and his sketch appearing “as a promiscuous Brownie”, and acknowledged the support of Bernard Bresslaw, of “Carry On Fame” in the comedy routines.

“Old style Pantomime with plenty of audience participation and fun is still alive and kicking!”

Monica Hoyer, who played The Witch in This Pantomime, was in fact Lady Coldstream, married to the eminent artist and head of Slade Arts School, Sir William Coldstream. She was his model, and later an artist herself. She married Sir William in 1960.

This season Howard & Wyndham produced Six Pantomimes- Newcastle with Stanley Baxter, Glasgow with Denny Willis, Leeds Grand starring Les Dawson, The King’s Edinburgh had Jimmy Logan topping the bill and at Norwich George Chisholm and Hope & Keen completed their shows.

1973-74                Leeds Grand Theatre                      Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose. (Minnie McNiven)

Cast: Cardew Robinson, (Hector Small The Provost),  Gillian Humphreys (Colin), Susan Mosco (Jill), Loise Pajo (Fairy Queen Of Light), Jill Hope (Witch, Queen of Darkness), Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose), Tommy De Ve & Vera (Unicyclists), Leigh Marsh & Her Poodles, The Singers: Juliet Lawrence, Tony Mandelle, Bryan Strachan, Valerie Wayne .Bob Wilson (Landlord & Co Stage Manager).

The Bruce McClure Dancers: Pat Armet, Helen Bon, Susan Carmichael, Angela Giblin, Andie Lowe, Georgina McDermott Alexandra Neale, Audrey Smith, Marilyn Smith, Madeline Zebciukas, Jim Hastie, Harry Murray, Des Toner.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McCLure. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe.

“Stanley Baxter must be one of this country’s great dames” (The Guardian)

Of all of Stanley Baxter’s brilliant character studies, possibly his finest is Mother Goose” (Yorkshire Morning Post)

Cardew Robinson had appeared with Stanley Baxter in the film “And Father Came Too” in 1964.

“The dancers are a lively lot, with tricky routines- cavorting clowns and animals as in a circus..”

“This production of Bruce McCLure has prompted some of the best singing and most exciting dancing heard and seen in a Leeds pantomime in years!” (Yorkshire Morning Post.)

This season Howard & Wyndham presented seven shows:

Leeds with Stanley Baxter, Manchester Opera House with Ken Dodd, Newcastle “Aladdin” with Pat Kirkwood, Denny Willis and Bryan Burdon, while Glasgow King’s had Jimmy Logan in “Cinderella”, at Edinburgh Rikki Fulton appeared in “Robinson Crusoe”, and The Oxford New had Terry Scott in “Babes In The Wood” with Gordon & Bunny Jay. The Royal Court Liverpool had Anita Harris starring as “Peter Pan” with Alan Curtis as Captain Hook.

1975-76                King’s Edinburgh              Jack & The Beanstalk     Stanley Baxter as Dame Lizzie Trotter.

Cast: Patricia Michael (Jack), John Mulvane, (Simple Simon) Susan Maudslay  (Nicola)  , Sarah Collier (Floral Fairy), Roland McCleod (Duke of Ambrosia), Helen Norman (Lady Longstone/Crone), Michael Kilgarriff (Giant Draculstein), The Wychwoods, Pat Armet (Gypsy Dancer), Terence Matkin (Village Youth), Brian Kinnaird (Footman), Philip Crowther (Athlete),

 The Bruce McClure Dancers: Pat Armet, Elizabeth Cavers Hazel Elliott, Brenda Handley, Veronica Langton, Audrey Smith, Vicki Wynn,  Philip Crowther, Tim Curtis.

 Singers: Caroline Bernstein, Alison McFarlane, Patty Tootell, Terence Matkin, Brian Kinnaird, David Glyn Rodgers.

Director & Choreographer, Bruce McClure. Musical Director Patrick McCann, Costumes by Anthony Holland, Scenery by Henry Bardon, Lighting Francis Reid. Book by John Morley. This Pantomime was not a Howard & Wyndham Production. It was presented by The Edinburgh & Lothian Theatre Trust Ltd at the King’s Theatre.

The Pantomime opened December 11th 1975

*The dancers wages in 1975 were £40 a week as advertised in “The Stage” auditions page.

Helen Norman was a veteran performer- she began her career as Principal Boy, was the leading lady in Scottish revues, and a long time comic feed to Jack Radcliffe and to Jimmy Logan.

 Patricia Michael recalls- “ In the 1975 “Jack & The Beanstalk” Dear Helen Norman was both Lady Longstone in Act I and Crone in Act II.  She was 68 at the time.  She was living in an Old Folks Home from where she had to get special permission to be out late for the panto which amused Stanley immensely.  She was a regal and haughty Lady Longstone but was brave enough to take out her false teeth as Crone which completely changed her face.  She revelled in this transformation cackling away like mad and baring her gums at every opportunity.  People who saw the show said she was “totally adorable” and “almost stole the show.” 

Another memory of Patricia Michael- During the 1975 Season of “Jack” I had mentioned that Stanley and I had developed a very good friendship and it was a happy circumstance that our dressing rooms at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh were right next door to each other.  He was often in my room, on one occasion opening a drawer which contained a pharmacopeia of pills, he exclaimed, “Oh now that’s much worse than me!”  Every Saturday night during the interval of the second show Stanley would come into my room bearing two glasses of champagne.  “It’s medicinal” he claimed, “We need it to get through the last act of the week and we deserve it.”  On one such occasion, Roland Macleod who was “Clarence, Tenth Duke of Ambrosia” happened to also visit my room and we immediately offered him a glass of champagne.  “Oh no” he said, “I never drink during a show.”  Stanley’s and my eyes opened wide in horror, “Neither do we” we said in unison!

John Mulvaney who played Simple Simon had played Dame the previous year at The Gaiety Ayr. He was to go on, covering for Stanley Baxter a few times during the two years of this Pantomime’s run at Edinburgh and Glasgow.This was Patricia Michael’s 4th visit to Edinburgh- her previous pantomime with Stanley Baxter was “Mother Goose” at The King’s. She had appeared in “The Five Past Eight” Revue in this City in 1970 as Principal singer. Bruce McClure invited her to appear in Pantomime after this season

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1976-77                King’s Glasgow                 Jack & The Beanstalk     Stanley Baxter as Dame Lizzie Trotter.

Cast: Patricia Michael (Jack), Rosemary Williams (Nicola ), Peter Kelly ( Simple Simon), Helen Norman (Lady Longstone/Crone), Valerie Fyfer (Fairy) Roland MacLeod (Duke of Ambrosia), Michael Kilgarriff (Giant Draculstein), Leigh Marsh’s Poodles, Stanley Pettigrew & Shaun Johnstone (Daisy The Cow), Pat Armet (Principal Dancer & Gypsy Girl)

The Bruce McClure Dancers- Rhona Clelland, Veronica Langton, Audrey Smith, Eva Troth, Rebecca Walker, Pauline Laverty, Des Toner & Tim Curtis.

This pantomime was not a Howard & Wyndham Production. It was presented by The Glasgow District Council.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Anthony Holland Costumes, Henry Bardon Scenery. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe. Stage Director Malcolm Norton, Stage Manager Justin Adams, Resident Stage Manager Alec Dunlop.

His gorgeous extrovert Dame studies, his knowledgeable local patter and patois and his flair s Dame Lizzie Trotter makes one of Glasgow’s happiest Pantomimes for some years”

In the Pantomime Stanley Baxter appeared in many guises, including Baroness Birdseye (a nod to his Television commercials), and Margaret Thatcher! He received praise for his colourful budgerigar costume in the show.

“Patricia Michael chooses charming songs for her Jack Trotter Principal Boy part. Rosemary Williams is a talented Principal Girl”

The Speciality act presented by Leigh Marsh saw a collection of poodles, dalmations and a feisty tiny Jack Russell.

Peter Kelly was making his Panto appearance with Stanley Baxter directly from the Citizens Theatre- his first Pantomime away from the venue that had nurtured Stanley back in the late 1940’s and early ‘50’s. He would later play Widow Twankey in the 1978 “Aladdin” with Jimmy Logan and Patricia Michael.

On Boxing Day ITV showed “Stanley Baxter’s Christmas Box”

1977-78                Manchester Opera House            Jack & The Beanstalk     Stanley Baxter as Dame Lizzie Trotter. Christopher Beeny as Simple Simon.

Cast: Vivienne McKee (Jack), Penny Mackay (Nicola), Michael Kilgarriff (Giant Draculstein), Roland McLeod (Duke of Ambrosia), Linda Whiteford (Floral Fairy), Doreen Driver (Lady Longstone/Crone), Leigh Marsh’s Poodles, Pat Armet (Principal Dancer). Robert Barrington & Stanley Pettigrew (Daisy The Cow), The Bruce McClure Dancers & Singers.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Sets by Henry Bardon. Costumes by Anthony Holland.

Howard & Wyndham owned the Opera House Manchester, and were intending to close it. Moss Empires owned and were closing The Palace Theatre across town. The Stage Review 12/1/78 “this might be the last such show ever to be staged at this splendid theatre. If this should prove to be the case- which all the gods forbid-Pantomime here ends its reign not with a whimper but a bang!”

 Edinburgh District Council owned the rights “Jack & The Beanstalk” and took the unusual step on underwriting this Pantomime, (£100,000 ) and presenting it at The Manchester Opera House, under the title: Staged by Howard & Wyndham by arrangement with Edinburgh District Council”. It was possibly the first time a local council had presented a production of this kind outside of their district.

It appeared the rival Palace would be closed, but Ken Dodd put on his “Laughter Show” and ran it for four weeks, in an attempt to “Save The Palace”.

“Stanley Baxter- his Lizzie Trotter is a warm hearted homely personality, with the requisite touch of pathos”

This was Stanley Baxters first appearance here since 1961. In This Pantomime he and Christopher Beeney appeared as a couple of budgerigars, and there were several comic references to “Upstairs Downstairs”. (Chris Beeney played Edward the footman in the series from 1971-1975)

On Christmas Eve 1977 ITV showed “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Old Christmas”, a television special recorded in the UK five weeks before Bing Crosby died. In this Bing Crosby meets the cast of “Upstairs Downstairs”, played entirely by Stanley Baxter, and it featured Ron Moody as Dickens and Twiggy.

The Stage review on the Pantomime: “It is as full of good things as a well made Christmas Pudding”

That year Bruce McClure was to oversee three Pantomimes- Stanley Baxter at Manchester, Rikki Fulton in “Sleeping Beauty” at Glasgow Kings, and Jimmy Logan in “Aladdin” at The King’s Edinburgh.

1979-80                King’s Edinburgh                              Cinderella                           Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia, Ugly Sister.

Cast: Phil Clarke jnr (Buttons), Mandy Martin (Prince Charming), Martin Dell, Elaine Gibbs, Ann Kidd, Jeanna L’Esty, Roland MacLeod , The Bruce McClure Singers & Dancers, Sir Robert Fossett’s Royal Cream Ponies.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Designed by Berkeley Sutcliffe, Lighting Andre Tammes, Musical Director Pat McCann.

Angus Lennie was known to viewers as chef “Shughie MacFee” in the popular tea time soap “Crossroads”. A fellow Glaswegian, he was the perfect foil for Stanley Baxter, a small dapper character actor, who had worked opposite Steve McQueen in the film “The Great Escape”, and Attenborough’s  film of “Oh! What A Lovely War!” He started his career in The Logan Family Shows at The Metropolitan, Glasgow as a dancer.

Angus Lennie- The Great Escape Film
Angus Lennie in “Crossroads”

Phil Clarke from Edinburgh,  appeared on Scottish Television/Thames Television  in the lunchtime variety show “Hello, Good Afternoon and Welcome” with Allan Stewart and Kristine.

1980-1981            King’s Glasgow                                 Cinderella                           Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia, Ugly Sister.

Cast: Phil Clarke (Buttons), Mandy Martin (Prince Charming), Roy Boutcher (Bron Fontainbleu),

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Designed by Berkeley Sutcliffe.

These designs from the V&A collection of Anthony Holland’s creations for Stanley Baxter. the collections can be found at https://collections.vam.ac.uk/

Search for Anthony Holland/Stanley Baxter

  • The Stage Archive has no listing for the Christmas edition

Roy Boutcher was at this time the husband of Una Mclean, who appeared in many shows with Stanley Baxter.

1982-1983            King’s Edinburgh                              Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Minnie McNiven, Mother Goose with Angus Lennie as Glaikit Gussie.

Cast: Marie Gordon-Price (Colin), Margo Cunningham , Christina Matthews, Juliet Cadzow, Leon Sinden (Squire), John Ramage (Priscilla The Goose), Roger Stevenson’s Puppets, The Bruce McClure Singers & Dancers.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe. Designed by Terry Parsons.

The Pantomime ran from December 9th 1982 to February 19th 1983.

On a personal note, I had played “Priscilla” The Goose at Coventry and Leicester Pantomimes, in a production designed by Terry Parsons. Terry’s sets and costumes dripped with ostrich feathers and glitter, and my Goose “skin” was magnificent. My agent Keith was contacted by Bruce McClure about possibly playing Goose in this show, in Terry’s Goose Costume, but by now I had moved on to playing Ugly Sister with Peter Robbins- twenty-eight years in fact!

I ran into Terry this year at Barnett Lawson, a shop specialising (as it does today) in trimmings and feathers. Terry had shopping trolleys crammed with Ostrich feather and cards of bugle beads and crystals. “Is that for the Girls finale ?” I asked “No”, Terry replied, “This is just for Stanley!”. He told me the budget for this show (thirty-eight years ago) was £100,000. No expense was spared!

1983-1984                            King’s Glasgow                 Mother Goose                  Stanley Baxter as Minnie McNiven with Angus Lennie as Glaikit Gussie.

Cast: Marie Gordon-Price (Colin), Alyson McInnes (Jill), Leon Sinden (Squire), John Ramage (Priscilla The Goose), Pavlov’s Puppets, The Bruce McClure Singers & Dancers.

Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe. Designed by Terry Parsons.

“Stanley Baxter is now among the foremost Dames in Britain”

“His teaming with little Angus Lennie is a most happy one!”

In this Pantomime Stanley Baxter transformed in the Pool Of Beauty as Dolly Parton, and appeared in his familiar Brownie character. He and Angus Lennie performed the Cod Ballet, and Stanley again brought the house down with his “Parliamo Glasgow!”

1984-1985                            Sunderland Empire               Mother Goose            Stanley Baxter as Minnie McNivern- Mother Goose

Cast: John Ramage (   Glaikit Gussie ), Joy Launor Heys (Colin), Carol Sagar (Jill), Derek Wright (Demon), Kathy Ryan (Priscilla The Goose), Janet Wantling, Vivien Ingham, Pavlov’s Puppets.

Presented by Russell Hills for Sunderland Empire and the Edinburgh/Glasgow councils. The Pantomime ran from December 17th 1984 to February 2nd 1985. Written by Stanley Baxter & Russel Lane, Adapted by Alan Curtis.

 Directed by Stanley Baxter and Nick Kirkpatrick. Choreographed by Kathy Ryan. Musical Director George Hastings. Scenery & Costumes Terry Parsons.

“Most especially it has a succession of superb sets and costumes by Terry Parsons which make it worthwhile dusting down that overworked word “Lavish” from my critical vocabulary”

This was Stanley Baxter’s first pantomime without Bruce McClure since 1970.

One of the best Dames in the country, with the good taste and good sense not to try to cash in on material familiar on another medium- Yes, I do mean Television..”

1985-1986                            King’s Edinburgh                              Aladdin                Stanley Baxter as Widow Twankey.         

Cast: Alan Curtis (Abanazar), John Ramage (Wishee Washee), Arhlene Allan (Aladdin), Safka Green (Princess Tai-Lu), Bill Clement, (Emperor). The Hassanis.

Presented by City Of Edinburgh District Council. The Pantomime ran from December 7th 1985 to February 22nd 1986. Directed by Stanley Pettigrew. Choreography Pat Armet.

Costumes by Bushy Westfallen. Scenery by Terry Parsons. Lighting Michael Northen.  Musical Director Patrick McCann.

“Any pantomime starring Stanley Baxter and Alan Curtis is a bit like firing a pistol into a room filled with targets- you can’t fail to hit the mark!”

Director Stanley Pettigrew began his career as the Front end of Daisy The Cow with Stanley Baxter in 1977, then was cast as Principal Comic, and now Director.

Alan Curtis, along with Alfred Marx was acknowledged as the finest Panto Villain of the time. His speciality was playing Captain Hook, a role he played more than any other. A member of the Players Theatre, in Charing Cross, famous for Music Hall and a unique pantomime in rhyming couplets, he regularly appeared and directed there. The theatre was the forerunner of BBC’s “The Good Old Days” and the long running TV show featured many members of “The Players Theatre”.

John Ramage – Wishee Washee in this pantomime, he had previously played Goose twice for Stanley Baxter, and in Sunderland replaced Angus Lennie in the role of Glaikit Gussie. He had appeared in plays at Perth, Edinburgh, and directed at The Edinburgh Festival.

Patricia Michael’s name appears on handbills for this Pantomime, although by the spring of this year she had already left for The United States and was in a long running production of “Noises Off”. The printers had “Jumped The Gun!” She completed her Pantomime in 1985 at Plymouth with Danny La Rue in “Mother Goose” and left for the States that month.

Stanley Baxter’s Television contracts changed to ITV for a two year exclusive deal for Christmas Specials and half hour weekly series. This was the first change since 1971.

1986-1987                            King’s Glasgow                 Aladdin                Stanley Baxter as Widow Twankey

Cast: Alan Curtis (Abanazar), John Ramage (Wishee Washee), Judith Hibbert (Aladdin), Fletcher Mathers (Princess Tai-Lu), Simone Lahbib,(So-Shy),  Bill Clement,(Emperor),  Euan McIver (Grand Vizier), Alex Craig (Genie of the Lamp).

Alan Curtis

 The Singers:  Aiden Bell, Pamela Baxter, Iain Campbell, Phillip Wrigley, Florence Moore, Christopher Mason, Francis Davidson, Sybil Wintrope. The Dancers: Patsy Murray (Head Girl), Alex Craig, Shirley Crosbie, Valerie Goldie, Kay Hoggan, David Jon-Fergus, Marie McElhinney, Rory Moore, Blair Murray, Jonathan Parsons, Colin Sangster, Margaret Turner.

Presented by Glasgow City Council & The King’s Theatre.

Directed by Stanley Baxter, Choreographed by Rhona Clelland. Musical Director Jill Stewart. An orchestra of Eleven). Designer Terry Parsons. Lighting George Armstrong. CSM James Ross.DSM Sarah Kerr.

This year celebrated Stanley Baxter’s 40 Years in Show Business.

“A beautifully wrapped Chinese take-away filled with rich delights which will linger in the memory as Glasgow’s most brilliant panto in many a year”

The pantomime took £4468,591 at the box office between November 24th 1986 and February 7th 1987. As was the tradition in Scotland, they played Christmas Day- one late matinee performance.

“ Our city’s famous “Glasgow’s Miles Better” slogan is made all the more apt by Stanley Baxter’s happy return to home ground in “Aladdin” at The King’s.”

John Ramage

John Ramage partnered Stanley Baxter in a “King & I” sketch “Shall We Dance.”. Judith Hibbert partnered Stanley Baxter in his by now legendary “Parliamo Glasgow” sketch.

“Judith Hibbert and Fletcher Mathers (who’s feminine despite that first name) are charming and tuneful as Aladdin and his Princess love”

JUDITH HIBBERT RECALLS:

Judith Hibbert  played Principal  Boy in the 1986 Pantomime Aladdin. She was a member of The Player’s Theatre London, and Alan Curtis (Playing Ananazar for the second season) put her name forward to Stanley Baxter.

Judith remembers arriving at the audition , and described it as like something out of The X Factor. Queues snaking outside the building all auditioning  for the role of “Aladdin”. Due to Alan’s recommendation she got seen withing the hour, and changed into an audition outfit. “Alan told me “He’ll want to see your legs”, as Principal Boys wore short tunics and, in Judith’s case at only 5’4” high heels!

She was “Green as grass” in her own words, and terrified of auditioning for this Television and Stage Icon. She sang “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”. It was a Saturday, and by the Monday morning she had a call from The King’s Glasgow to offer her the role

Judith Hibbert

It was her first Major Pantomime, and her first leading role. Alan Curtis had told her that she should be “Off the book”- without script by the first day of rehearsals. Not knowing any different, Judith arrived for the first day with every word learnt. Stanley was sitting behind a  table, in Director role, and the rehearsals began. He “topped and tailed” scenes and then he gestured to her “And now Aladdin Enters….”

“I’d left the script on the chair, and started the scene. Everyone else had done it before- I was the new comer. The first lines were “Well, whose for sweetmeats”, and the scene continued.  Wishee (John Ramage) entered reading from his script, as was everyone else- I was thrilled to hear the words spoken, as I’d only heard them in my head. I was quaking with fear and carried on saying the lines until Stanley said it was time to stop and have lunch.He said “Thank you Judith” and  I left the building shaking, returning for Act Two.

Alan Curtis later revealed that, as Judith left for lunch shaking, Stanley turned to the company and exclaimed “Oh *!#!, we’d ALL better learn this!” The next day she noticed everyone was off the script!

Stanley Baxter and the art of timing a laugh: I will always be thankful for everything he taught me- most particularly about standing still on the stage and when delivering a comedy feed line, to deliver it out front and always on an upward inflection, and then turning quickly back to him for the laugh line…. And to wait until the laughter (he described it as a fountain of water falling down), and just before it reached the bottom to turn back out front and deliver the next line. Andonce it was rehearsed and worked to perfection, never to change it!”

The Stage:“Alan Curtis is an Abanazar whose panache and entertaining insulting exchanges with the audience make it clear why he’s rated Britain’s King of Panto Villainy”

Between 1988 and 1990  Stanley Baxter appeared in STV’s children’s series “Mr Majeika”, it featured Claire Sawyer, Richard Murdock, Roland McLeod(he appeared in several Pantomimes with Stanley Baxter), Simeon Pearl, Eve Ferret, Andrew Reed and Miriam Margolyes.

1990-1991            King’s Edinburgh              Cinderella                           Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia, Ugly Sister.

Cast:      Barnaby as Buttons, Alyson McInnes (Cinderella), Claire Massie (Dandini), Edith Macarthur (Fairy Godmother)

Barnaby

Directed & Written by Stanley Baxter. Choreography by Sheridan Nicol.

Designed by Terry Parsons.

Stanley Baxter once again teamed up with Angus Lennie.

“The Sets and Costumes are Gorgeous”

Costumes designed by Terry Parson for Stanley Baxter were often made by my friend Paddy Dickie. Paddy made the lavish finale costumes and in Stanley’s case, also the character costumes for some of his Television specials. She and her Mother Mary worked from a vast attic room in Chiswick- she made for Terry Scott and Billy Dainty regularly. In my collection I have a few of Paddy’s creations, and the V&A Museum has some of her costumes for Billy Dainty’s “Dick Whittington”.

Other costume creators for Terry Parsons included Gerald Cheshire, the master theatrical milliner, Jeannie Fletcher who specialises in “Objects” from Plastazote- Stanley’s Ice-Cream costume for instance, and Mark Wheeler- his animal heads made for this production and he ones he made for me for a “Cinderella” were stunning. Stanley’s Pantomimes employed the top crafts-people!

Alyson McInnes, playing Cinderella began her career as a 15 year old in the Scottish group “Sunshine”.

“The name Stanley Baxter above the title in this year’s pantomime at The King’s is enough to have the audiences fighting for seats”

Barnaby began his career as a Butlin’s Redcoat, and appeared on Granada TV’s “Fame Game” which he won seven times. His son Barney Harwood presented Blue Peter and appeared on CBBS, with many Pantomime appearances. Father (Barnaby) played Mr Smee to his son (Barney’s) Peter Pan at The Lichfield Garrick .

                STANLEY BAXTER’S PANTOMIME SWANSONG      

1991-1992            King’s Glasgow                 Cinderella                           Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia Ugly Sister.      

Cast: Barnaby (Buttons), Alyson McInnes (Cinderella), Diana Barimore (Prince), Ckaire Massie (Dandini), Kalman Glass (Baroness), Richard Winch (Baron), Edith Macarthur (Fairy Godmother).

Presented by the City Of Glasgow. Written and Directed by Stanley Baxter.

Choreographed by Rhona Cleland. Musical Director Jill Stewart. Designed by Terry Parsons.The Pantomime transferred from the previous year’s season at Edinburgh.

“If big is beautiful and lavish décor and costumes spell the full entertainment at Pantomime, this is one”

This Pantomime at The King’s Glasgow , was, by his choosing, his final one.

“Stanley shines with all his long time talent as a gorgeously gowned Natalie”

Stanley Baxter began his Pantomime journey in Glasgow forty-one years previously, at the Citizens Theatre. His career took him from Radio into Television, with series after series of peak time lavish spectaculars and Christmas Specials, through Film and Royal Command performances, Plays and revues in the West End, and a lifetime of guaranteeing quality in everything he appeared in- most especially Pantomime.

For those fabulous forty odd years of Pantomime perfection, we thank you Stanley Baxter!

Pantoland At The Palladium!

2020 CHRISTMAS AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM

P A N T O L A N D   A T   T H E   P A L L A D I U M

JULIAN CLARY AND ELAINE PAIGE LEAD AN ALL STAR CAST IN A CELEBRATION OF PANTO STARRING

ASHLEY BANJO & DIVERSITY, PAUL ZERDIN, NIGEL HAVERS, GARY WILMOT,
CHARLIE STEMP, JAC YARROW AND SPECIAL GUEST BEVERLEY KNIGHT

FOR A STRICTLY LIMITED THREE-WEEK RUN

PUBLIC BOOKING OPENS TODAY AT 10AM

www.palladiumpantomime.com

Qdos Entertainment and LW Theatres have today (9 October 2020) announced that this Christmas Julian Clary and Elaine Paige will take us on a magical trip to Pantoland at The Palladium.  Performances will begin at the world-famous theatre on 12 December 2020 running until 3 January 2021, with tickets on sale from 10am today.

The London Palladium, the home of pantomime, will welcome back panto favourites Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot, as well as past stars Ashley Banjo & Diversity and Charlie Stemp. Making their debut will be West End sensations Beverley Knight and Jac Yarrow.

Returning for a fifth consecutive year, The London Palladium pantomime has become an essential part of Christmas in the West End, with record-breaking box office success year-after-year. Pantoland at The Palladium, devised by Michael Harrison, will be a treasure-trove of The London Palladium panto past and exciting new surprises written especially for the show, guaranteeing an unmissable treat for panto and musical theatre fans alike.

Celebrating the very best of pantomime, with comedy in abundance, this star-filled extravaganza will play to a socially-distanced audience. The show will feature the work of Olivier Award-Winning Team director Michael Harrison, choreographer Karen Bruce, set designer Ian Westbrook, costume designer Hugh Durrant, lighting designer Ben Cracknell, sound designer Gareth Owen and composer and orchestrator Gary Hind.

The production at The Palladium has been made possible as a result of a creative initiative announced by The National Lottery today which it hopes will enable hundreds of thousands of theatregoers to enjoy socially distanced pantomime this Christmas in theatres across the nation. The initiative will see The National Lottery buy seats that need to remain empty to enable social-distancing, complying with relevant government and public health guidance. By making it viable for theatres to open their doors to the general public, up to 250,000 tickets are expected to be available, with more than 20,000 free tickets available for National Lottery players and the rest to go on sale. This will generate vital income for theatres and help restore jobs – while providing much-needed cheer for panto lovers at Christmas.      

Pantoland at The Palladium is the first of a number of productions at theatres across the country to be announced, with further venues to be confirmed in the coming weeks. 

Director and Producer Michael Harrison said:

Pantoland at The Palladium promises to be a spectacular and exciting celebration of this wonderful art form that has been so devastated and decimated by COVID-19.

There is no doubt producing a show of this size and scale is a risk – but it is a risk we have to take. This is not a long term fix, nor a solution to the tragic situation our industry is in, it simply provides a sticking plaster on a very big theatrical wound as we hopefully prepare for full openings in 2021.

As well as bringing our wonderful audiences back, we want to play our part in the rehabilitation of London’s vibrant West End. The production is made possible by the sheer goodwill, determination and courage of so many people – thanks to them over 200 people will now have jobs over Christmas.”

Chairman of Qdos Entertainment, Nick Thomas added:

“I’m delighted that Qdos Entertainment is able to return to The London Palladium this Christmas. Having produced more than 750 pantomimes across the UK over the past 37 years, it would have been unthinkable for us to have a Christmas without the magic of panto. Thanks to our partnership with The London Palladium we are able to give tens of thousands of theatregoers the opportunity to enjoy some very much needed theatrical magic with their families this Christmas.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber said:

Christmas 2020 needs a Pantomime, and this one at The London Palladium has never meant so much to our industry and our audiences. LW Theatres operates as a not-for-profit and we are delighted that The National Lottery’s support will enable Qdos Entertainment and Producer/Director Michael Harrison to stage this socially distanced production at The London Palladium, alongside many others across the nation.

Opening Pantoland at The Palladium will provide crucial support to struggling restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses across the West End, leading to thousands of vital jobs on stage, off stage and backstage.  

Since theatres were closed in March, we have spent considerable time, effort and money, making The London Palladium Covid-secure. Using all our knowledge and experiences from around the world, we ran a pilot at The London Palladium for Public Health England and the government to demonstrate that theatres can be a safe environment for our audiences.

By next Spring, our major productions across London’s beloved West End must – and will – be back. I sincerely hope that this pantomime brings a moment of much-needed festive cheer as we continue to fight for the revival of our wonderful and vital theatre industry.”

Chief Executive of LW Theatres, Rebecca Kane Burton said:

“After months of uncertainty, it is nothing short of a miracle that we shall, after all, be staging a panto at The London Palladium. We have worked tirelessly since our first pilot event in July to demonstrate that we can operate The London Palladium safely.

We have all the measures in place to ensure people feel safe, confident and, most importantly, excited to be back with us. Since our first shows in September, we have been blown away by the responses of our audiences. I can’t wait to see the panto lovers back with us for the joyful tradition of pantomime at The London Palladium.”

The London Palladium is an official government pilot venue, working to demonstrate that theatres can open and operate fully within the current coronavirus and social distancing guidance. Performances of Pantoland at The Palladium will run in accordance with a wide suite of health and safety measures (including reconfiguration of seating across the venue and the mandatory wearing of face coverings) that keep audiences, staff and crews safe.

Pantoland at The Palladium is produced by Michael Harrison and Nick Thomas for Qdos Entertainment. As the world’s biggest pantomime producer, over the past 38 years Qdos Entertainment has established itself as one of the largest entertainment companies in Europe. Over the past three decades the pantomime giant has staged 754 pantomimes.

Hugh Durrant Olivier Nominee 2020

Hugh Durrant, designer of fabulous costumes and indeed scenery for Qdos is one of four nominees for the prestigious Olivier Awards which take place on ITV on Sunday 25th October.

Hugh is nominated for the incredible and over-the-top costumes he created for Julian Clary in the Michael Harrison Qdos Panto “Goldilocks & The Three Bears” at The London Palladium.

Here are just a few of Hugh’s creations from this show.!

Hugh joins fellow nominees Jonathan Lipman (Fiddler at The Playhouse), Joanna Scotcher (Emilia at The Vaudeville) and Paloma Young (Juliet at The Shaftesbury) on the night- filmed at the Palladium and screened on ITV.

BARON BEEFY!

Congratulations to Sir Ian Botham, introduced to The House Of Lords yesterday as Baron Botham of Ravensworth! The Lords already has Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham , recently made A Dame- Floella Benjamin of course the star of Play Away and Pantomime.

I the Panto I did with Ian Botham he was Broker’s Man with Robin Asquith. They pursued the Baron Hardup for his goods & Chattells. Life imitates art as our Broker’s man is actually The Baron!

Happy Birthday Britt!

Tuesday 6th October 2020

Britt Ekland is a veteran of many Pantomimes around the UK, from Fairy Godmother to Wicked Queen she has been performing in Pantos , bringing some Hollywood magic to the proceedings. Here are a few photos of our “Cinderella” together at Wimbledon in 198-99.

The Weakest Link

This year Britt will be appearing at The Theatre Royal Windsor – a favourite pantomime venue for her from 27th November to 10th January in “Cinderella”.

Summer Pirates at Weymouth!

Promo_Poster

Opening on Monday 17th August!

Pirates of the Pavilion is coming to Nothe Fort Weymouth!

2 performances a night from 17th to 23rd August 2020.

Shows begin at 4:30pm & 7:30pm.

This is an outdoor production so please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on, and dress for the weather!

In case of rain, please don’t bring umbrellas as they block sight-lines for other audience members. Ponchos and raincoats are just as fetching, so please wear these instead.

We’re so excited to bring a brand new ‘al fresco’ show to Weymouth this summer, starring all of your favourite familiar faces, along with a few surprises to boot!

The hilarious LIAM MELLOR returns for his fourth summer season in the role of Seadog Billy – expect side-splitting comedy antics and laughter by the bucketful…anything can happen…and it probably will!

ROBERT SQUIRE returns for his 6th year as the bumbling Captain Filibuster, along with Pirates of the Pavilion regulars TEGEN JONES (Spirit of the Seas), ISLA ROSE (Pirate Poppy) and Weymouth’s Own ALEX ROGAN as Dapper Dick!

PLUS we are delighted to announce that panto favourite GWYNFRYN WEST will make his Pirates of the Pavilion debut as the evil CAPTAIN BLACKHEAD who is set on stealing the loot from our plucky pirate crew!

The crew will also be joined for the first time by Captain Filibuster’s long-suffering wife MRS FILIBUSTER – played by the fabulous LUKE ATTWOOD, who beady-eyed panto fans will recognise as one of the Ugly Sisters from last year’s production of CINDERELLA!

Join our plucky pirate crew as they battle against the evil Captain Blackhead in search for the Lost Treasure of Nothe Fort!  With thrills, spills, surprises and social distancing…you won’t want to miss this year’s unique summer pantomime!

Will Seadog Billy beat the baddie to the loot? Will Captain Filibuster fall overboard? Will the Spirit of the Seas be able to use her magic outside of the Pavilion? There’s only one way to find out m’hearties!

Book your tickets at: https://bit.ly/2DRZVfv

DAVID MORTON

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David Morton as Ugly Sister- as painted by Judy Graham

DAVID MORTON

Here at IBY we were saddened to hear the news that David Morton has died. I met David at rehearsal rooms many times over the years, where he and usually Brian Godfrey would be rehearsing for “Cinderella” in one room, and Peter and I would be in another. He had a very long and fascinating career. Our thoughts and love to David’s family, friends and all who will miss him in Pantoland.

David Morton, Actor, Pantomime Dame and Ugly Sister had a career that encompassed plays, musicals, pantomimes and television, starting in the late 1950’s and continuing until his retirement in 2005.

He was known for his Panto partnership with Brian Godfrey for Paul Elliott’s E&B Company, and as Dame- especially Widow Twankey and Mother Goose, for Paul, performing Pantomime both in this country and in Canada. In fact he was one of the first artistes to appear in Saudi Arabia in a touring revue in 1959 alongside Barrie Gosney, who he appeared with frequently.

David appeared in revue with Barrie in 1960 and shortly afterwards went on tour with “The Fol De Rols” revue company for several years. The company included veteran Dame Jack Tripp, and Denny Willis. David met his wife, Barbara Robinson in a show and they toured together in the “Fols” until 1963.

In 1963-64 He played Chinese Policeman opposite Hugh Futcher in The Leatherhead Rep production of “Aladdin” which had John Crocker as Dame and Henry Magee and Alan Rothwell in the cast. His wife Barbara choreographed.

After a season in Stratford for Peter Hall he appeared in the Players Theatre Panto “Ali Baba” alongside Maria Charles, and toured extensively in Musicals- “Robert and Elizabeth”, “Hello Dolly” – as Cornelius with Dora Bryan as Dolly Levi, and in “Blandings Castle” with Jon Pertwee, Peggy Mount and Robertson Hare.

He played his first Dame role at The new Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead in 1969 as “Queen Coke” in “Sleeping Beauty”. The panto included Principal Boy and West End Star Patricia Michael and Stacey Gregg.

He followed this with a rep season at Leatherhead and appearing in the West End in “Trelawny” with Gemma Craven, Max Adrian and Joyce Carey. This cast included Betty Benfield who was to appear with David frequently in “Cinderella” in the coming years as Fairy Godmother.

In 1973 David appeared as Ugly Sister with Barrie Gosney in Wimbledon’s “Cinderella” alongside Television Magician David Nixon and Basil Brush, and the following year did his first “Sister” for Paul Elliott/Triumph in Toronto Canada. He returned in 1976 with the Paul Elliott “Jack & The Beanstalk” with Lionel Blair, Leon Green and Fiona Kennedy. Barrie Gosney played Dame.

 

The following year in 1978 David played “Sister” in “Cinderella” opposite Michael Sharville Martin and appeared with his wife, Barbara. The Panto starred Blue Peter’s John Noakes, Peter Purves and Bonnie Langford, and Ward Allan at Guildford.

David Toured for Paul Elliott and Mark Furness in “Oh Sir James!” starring Jimmy Edwards and Kenneth Connor with Eunice Black and Fiona Curzon.

In 1979 David and Michael played “Sisters” in this production at The Rex Wilmslow, directed by Carole Todd. The following year this E&B Production played Bath with the addition of Ben Warris.

David played Dame- Mother Goose in 1982 in a panto that starred Larry Grayson, Honor Blackman, Dilys Watling and Cheryl Taylor, and again as “Mother Goose” the next year at Cambridge alongside Brian Cant,

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In 1984 David played Widow Twankey at Manchester with Anneka Rice, Matthew Kelly and veteran comedian Tommy Trinder, and repeated his Dame role the following year at Wimbledon with Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson. The panto cast included George Sewell and Edmund Hockeridge.

As Widow Twankey David appeared at Bournemouth in 1986 alongside Derek Griffiths as Abanazar, Anna Dawson, Anita Dobson as Principal Boy and the “Skeletons Alive!” speciality by Dumart & Denzer.

A season in “Run For Your Wife” at Bournemouth followed with Jan Hunt, Eric Sykes and Terry Scott, followed by Dame in “Aladdin” again at Richmond Theatre with Jeffrey Holland, Anita Dobson, Simon Groom and Janet Ellis in 1987.

David played Cilla Black’s mother in “Aladdin” at Wimbledon the following year, with Bob Carolgees (and Spit The Dog), Gareth Hunt and Katie Budd.

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In 1990 David appeared in the long running comedy “Pajama Tops” with John Inman, before heading to Plymouth to appear as Ugly Sister in The London Palladium Production of “Cinderella” with Des O’Connor, Peggy Mount and The Simmons Brothers.

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David, Brian and Dawson Chanceunnamed (3)

David & Brian “An Inver-Tat-Sioni”?- Tearing The Ticket.unnamed (4)

He toured in the comedy “Move Over Mrs Markham” with Debbie Watling, Mark Curry and Peter Dayson before playing “Sister” once more at Woking with Brian Godfrey. He was “Sister” to Brian for E&B Productions for several years. Woking featured Nyree Dawn Porter, Des O’Connor and Jodie Wilson.

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Brian Godfrey & David Morton

David and Brian joined Brian Conley at Southampton in 1993 as “Sisters” joined by Gloria Hunniford as Fairy Godmother, and Ann Sidney as Prince Charming., followed by playing Dame Trott in “Jack & The Beanstalk” at Bath with Britt Ekland, Lionel Blair and Michael Elphic.

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David was to rejoin Brian Godfrey the next year-1995 in “Cinderella” at Bournemouth with Les Dennis, Amanda Holden and Kathy Staff .

In 1997 David and Brian played “Sisters” with Danny La Rue as their Mother, The Baroness Voluptua at The Mayflower, Southampton. Brian Conley was Buttons. They repeated this again at Plymouth Theatre Royal.

 

In 2000 for Qdos David rejoined Brian Godfrey and Danny La Rue at Woking with Bobby Davro and Melinda Messenger in “Cinderella”, repeating the production the next year at Milton Keynes.

In 2002 David was opposite Simon Buttris as “Ugly Sister”for QDOS  with Danny La Rue and Dave Benson Philips, rejoining Brian Godfrey as “Sister” in 2003 in Aberdeen, once again with Danny La Rue and Bobby Davro.

In 2004-05 David made his last Pantomime appearance in “Snow White”for QDOS at The Theatre Royal Newcastle. The Pantomime starred Lesley Joseph as Wicked Queen, Peter Piper as Muddles and Kathryn Rooney as Snow White.

 

 

NIGEL ELLACOTT’S 45 YEARS OF PANTO!

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This year would be my 46th Year of Pantomimes- Every single year since 1974 up to the most recent Pantomime in 2019.

I’ve listed every Pantomime- and the cast and creatives that made it happen. From Playing Animals in Panto to teaming up with the incredible Peter Robbins- for twenty-eight years-with Both Paul Elliott and then Nick Thomas and Michael Harrison- to playing solo Dame .

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It’s a journey through Pantomimes and some of the amazing people I’ve met on the way. It starts at the beginning, so you can fast forward or pause as you wish!

Growing up in Swansea I was fortunate to spend a lot of time at The Swansea Grand Theatre.My Brother Vivyan was House Manager, and John Chilvers was the Administrator.As a child and as a teenager  I was able to watch many Swansea Grand pantomimes over the years from both auditorium and backstage.

The biggest Pantomime influence on me was Freddie Lees. Freddie often played Dame at “The Grand” and was comedy lead in the weekly Rep seasons at the time, Along with Jean Fergusson, Eleanor Thomas, and Vivienne Moore.

I was also fortunate to belong to” The Swansea Youth Theatre”  – some of the Grand’s Rep actors had started their careers with the SYT, and that was where I appeared in my very first Pantomime at the Llewellyn Hall. John Griffiths was in The Youth Theatre and I did a few Pantos with him.

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When I went to College to study Drama and English at Carmarthen, one of the projects I got involved in was a touring pantomime- “Dick Whittington” where at the age of eighteen I was Sarah The Cook, and I appeared in this with (now Doctor) Chris Abbott as part of the Drama course! The seeds were set.

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I already had my Provisional “Equity” card before I went to college, gained through  parts in television for HTV and BBC Wales, and through variety in clubs. A few months after finishing college in 1974 I auditioned for The Welsh Nation Opera & Drama Company, and got my first tour that led to the first “Panto” style season at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre.- Enjoy!

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PANTO 1974-75

Panto 1974-1975

Touring 1974

Then

Sherman Theatre Cardiff

Jan 2nd-Jan 11th 1975

Welsh National Opera Drama Co

GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT

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Nigel Ellacott, Hilary Gilman, Patrick Salvadori, Richard Morse, Antony McDonald, Mathew Scurfield, Elspeth Walker

Directed by Elspeth Walker, Written by David Snodin. Music by Stephen Oliver. Designed by Iona Macleish.

The Welsh National Opera company created a Drama division, and this show, based on the Knights of The Round Table, was chosen to tour schools and centres, and played the Sherman Theatre straight after Christmas. We toured it for four months prior to the Sherman.

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Nigel as Sir Gawain

I played Sir Gawain, and the play had panto elements- A Villain- The Green Knight, who gets his head chopped off and keeps walking around, , a wicked Witch, a jester, King Arthur, a love interest, and a few woodland animals thrown in. The Music was by Stephen Oliver, a hugely talented composer who went on to write for major Opera Companies and the National Theatre. His 50 Operas, included “Timon Of Athens” and “The Duchess Of Malfi”.

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Beheading The Green Knight- Twice Daily

 

The tour carried on after the Sherman “Panto Style” production, through the spring.

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Panto 1975-1976

Sherman Theatre Cardiff

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MADAM WEN

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Christine Pritchard, John Prior, Shirley King, Sarah Reynolds, Frank Lincoln, Eilian Wyn, Stewart Jones, Robin Griffith, Christopher Davies, Nigel Ellacott.

 Directed by David Lyn, Set Design Ken Leech, Chris Brown. Lighting Howell Watkins, Wardrobe Anne Fowler & Felicity Shepherd, Music by Nick McGeegan & Nigel Ellacott,

This was a swashbuckling Pirate story in Panto style, based on Welsh legend and the novel by W.D. Owen  about Einir Wyn who led a double life as the Lady Pirate Madam Wen (Wen is Welsh for “White”). She led a band of smugglers in North Wales, close to Puffin Island, Anglesey.

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This is how I came to be dressed as a Puffin accompanying myself on my Ukelele- no mean feat in flippers.or wings.. The star of our show was Christine Pritchard, one of Wales’s busiest actresses, with countless appearances in Television soaps and plays and theatre. Christine is my oldest Panto friend- we are still in touch and met up recently forty five years after this show played The Sherman Theatre Cardiff, and toured around Wales!

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Christine Pritchard

The highlights were writing songs for the show, playing Puffins, Pirates and anything else required, and a set that had “periactoids”. I’d never heard of the term- triangular Toblerone shaped pieces of scenery that spun around making three sets.

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A “Periactoid”

We had a locking “Quay” that joined them to make the Docks. Except for the Lyric Theatre Carmarthen when it didn’t lock, and Christine, Christopher and myself started to move unaided towards the audience and our Periactoids went INTO the audience. All part of the atmosphere! I loved the show and the company!

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The Sherman Theatre Cardiff