Plymouth Panto is Launched!

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Thursday 13th September 2018

I woke up this morning to the glorious sight of The Hoe, Plymouth- sun shining and ships criss- crossing the water, a very apt view for the nautical adventures of Dick Whittington, and our press launch day for the Theatre Royal!

 

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The view from the Hotel Window. Not bad eh?

Travelled down last night, on a journey that takes your breath away as the train follows the coastline for a chunk, and arrived back in Plymouth where Peter Robbins and I appeared fourteen years ago in “Cinderella” with Brian Conley!

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Here we are- from L to Right: Ellie Carwithen, Andy Ford, John Partridge, Myself- Nigel Ellacott, Daniella Hyner-Anderson and Conor Ashman.

We met up with Jonathan Kiley, Executive Producer and Adrian LeSurf from Qdos, and headed off to the streets of historic Plymouth, near to the Aquarium, for a session with the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press. Here is a link to a short video of the interviews we did . This is one from The Plymouth Herald:

https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/whats-on/plymouth-panto-theatre-royal-cast-2003956

and this is an article from Radio Plymouth:

http://www.radioplymouth.com/news/local-news/theatre-royal-launches-panto/

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Gorgeous sunny day, we had interviews in the gardens of The Tudor Rose Tea Rooms, before John, Andy and I did a promotional piece to camera, filmed by Denhams TV inside the Tea Rooms , closed for today for our “Private Function”. How ghastly, to be locked inside a tea=room in Devon with nothing but sandwiches, scones, jam and cream and lashings and lashings of… err tea! It was a sort of Mad Hatted Tea Party. Look out for it on Social Media when its been edited and gone up for Baftas and the like!

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The Tudor Rose Tea Rooms answer to Vanity Fair!

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Jonathan Kiley overseeing the filming with our Television Director.

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Eat your heart out Maggie Smith- This Dame is acting up a storm! Maybe the scones weren’t up to Masterchef standards? Actually- they were delicious! Thanks ladies of the Tudor Tea Rooms! Well fed and watered we were!

Samantha Womack will be heading for Plymouth soon to do some press , as she was working today, and not with us-and as soon as we wrapped the filming, John headed to Torquay to perform in his touring thriller “The Case Of The Frightened Lady” at The Princess Theatre there.

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Looking forward very much to playing the Theatre Royal once again- its a wonderful auditorium, and this is the sight we’ll all be seeing in just a few months time!

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can’t wait to sail aboard the Saucy Sally as Alderwoman Felicity Fitzwarren this season!

Watch this space for further press pictures as they are released!

 

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The Palladium- Man In The Moon 1963

I like when things in my archive join up, and give a glimpse into a time gone by.

Recently the London Palladium has been host to The Qdos Pantomimes- “Cinderella”, “Dick Whittington” and, due in December “Snow White”.

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In 1963 the Palladium tried an experiment. The management decided not to put on a traditional Panto, but opted to present a huge star of the time, comedian Charlie Drake, in a Musical called “The Man In The Moon”.

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That wasn’t the best decision that this Palace of Variety and Pantomime had ever taken, and soon it reverted to Pantomimes once again, but for a short season the wings were filled with Space men and futuristic Space Cars and flying effects.

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The popular comic “The Eagle” celebrated this with a special “Peep Behind The Scenes of “The Man In The Moon” in its 28th December 1963 issue. Dan Dare, The Mekons and Digby were on the front cover, but the backstage mechanics of The London Palladium were featured in a cut-away illustration on the back page. Here it is in all its 60’s futuristic glory, featuring the famous stage revolve!

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Terry Powell has spent a lifetime backstage in Theatres around the country, and has been involved in countless scenic productions, including Pantomimes. Terry has this to say about the famous London Palladium revolve.

“Since Val Parnell presented his first pantomime Cinderella in 1948 the venue was used annually to produce long running spectacular pantomime until musicals took over seasonal entertainment from 1988.

Much of the success of these pantomimes was due to the use of revolves and centre drum lift in adding inventive scenic design to enhance, in particular, the extravagant first act finales providing a touch of magic that would amaze both adults and children in the audience.  In addition, trap doors set into the stage provided both entry and exit for cast members plus stage properties.

Another technical innovation were three rising microphones situated at the front of stage providing the opportunity for performers to deliver script and song with amplification.

All of the above items were removed prior to the opening of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in order to accommodate the mechanics of the car; none of them being listed as required to remain as part of the theatre’s equipment.  Following the closing of Chitty the empty sub stage area provided additional space that could be used for storage and mechanics as required by incoming productions giving scenic designers an area to store and lift scenery to stage level.

As the stage has limited side or wing space the majority of scenery used in production needs to be accommodated in the roof void known as the fly tower to be raised and lowered to the stage floor as required.

The orchestra pit remains able to be raised and lowered as a feature of the variety days.”

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This production “The Man In The Moon” was described as “A Space-Age Musical”. Some of the Musical Numbers were written by Tom Springfield, brother and co-performer with   Superstar Dusty Springfield, along with Burt Rhodes, Max Diamond and John Taylor. The scenery was by Tod Kingman, who Terry (Powell) assisted frequently in Pantomime.

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the area below the London Palladium stage has been in the news very recently. At the request of Sir Bruce Forsythe and his family, the ashes of this major entertainer, and compere of so many televised “Sunday Night At The London Palladium”, have been placed in the area beneath the stage.

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The newspapers reported last week:

Sir Bruce Forsyth’s ashes have been laid to rest under the stage at the London Palladium. The late entertainer’s ashes were placed at the famous London landmark in a private ceremony attended by Sir Bruce’s family a year to the day after his death.

A blue plaque on the wall below the stage says that “without question the UK’s greatest entertainer, he rests in peace within the sound of music, laughter and dancing… exactly where he would want to be.”

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Sir Bruce will be in good company. The esteemed Variety and Film agent Billy Marsh had his ashes placed here twenty-two years ago.

Billy Marsh  worked for Bernard Delfont‘s London Management company, with responsibility for stars including Morecambe and Wise, until 1987 when he formed his own talent management agency Billy Marsh Associates, which survives him.[2] In 1991, he founded his own show business promotions company, appointing friend and protégé Johnny Mans as managing director and partner, eventually becoming Johnny Mans Productions.[5][6]

On 17 June 1996, his ashes were interred underneath the stage at The London Palladium, alongside an honorary plaque,[3] which was “in recognition of his belief, encouragement and kindness to countless talented performers, many of whom have become legends upon this stage”.[2]

A great tribute to two gentlemen who did so much to further the world of Variety and Pantomime, especially at The London Palladium.

 

 

 

 

 

PAUL ELLIOTT 60 Years

“Keeping My Balls In The Air”- The Book Launch!

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Paul Elliott & me, along with Andrew Ryan, Jan Hunt & Jonathan Kiley

Sunday 24th June 2018

A really lovely day celebrating Paul Elliott’s 60 years in the Business of Show, and the launch of his book “Keeping My Balls In The Air”..The random memoirs of a Theatre Producer. The title, by the way, was suggested by Rupert Everett. The book is a great read- it takes the lid of the Business behind Show Business, and gives an insight into the world of the Theatre Producer. Not A Theatre Producer, but THE Theatre Producer.

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Alfie Harrison with Ann Marie and Brian Conley. Lesley Joseph with Paul

Paul has produced shows worldwide. Starting in 1958 he presented a rep season at Rhyl, shows at the Pier Theatre Llandudno (Its no longer there, if you’re thinking of looking!) and on through 45 years of top pantomimes, earning him the accolade “KING OF PANTO”, following in the footsteps of Laidler, Wylie Tate and Emile Littler- he produced a staggering 482 pantomimes! I am so grateful Peter Robbins and I got to share in a few of those from 1982 onwards!

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Jane Danielle, Me, Jan Hunt, AndrewRyan, David Ian

The day was a glorious celebration, a meeting of old mates, and a chance to sit outside on a beautiful sunny day, fed and watered (for water read champagne!) and to be regaled with stories and anecdotes- some that you will find in this brilliant no holds barred expose of life upon the wicked stage- from Paul the Producers point of view!

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LJ Elliott with Linda Hayden (Mrs Paul Elliott). Paul with top agent Barry Burnett.

Paul started his career as an actor, appearing with his best friend Peter Byrne in the popular long running “Dixon Of Dock Green”, before persuading Peter to join him in his pantomime company- they created “E&B” Productions- For Elliott & Byrne.

sadly we all attended Peter Byrne’s funeral last week. He would have so enjoyed today’s celebrations, meeting up with so many old friends.

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Carole Todd and Roger Hannah

For me, spending twenty-eight years of Sister with first E&B , then E&B &AMG, which became Qdos (Hope you are following that!) it was a chance to catch up with the Panto Family that was created through doing Paul’s shows. The whole day felt like a family gathering, and that is exactly what it was. There was Paul, who produced his first panto in 1968, in the same room as Jan Hunt, who appeared in that show, with the Director, John De Lannoy- all recalling that eventful season in Hull that led to say many more.

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Ray and Linda Cooney getting their copy of the book signed.

A chance for me to meet up again with Mrs Elliott- or Linda Haydn as she is- Linda played Prince Charming in my very first panto for Paul in Stevenage, and seeing Jane Danielle- Dandini with us for several years, to Robin Asquith who was Brokers Man alongside Ian Botham when we were at Wimbledon! Great to see the Qdos Family again- Michael & Kathryn Harrison with little Alfie, and Jonathan Kiley- A day to catch up with Peter Tod, a man who has run many major theatres- The Alhambra,Darlington, The Birmingham Hippodrome.. Carole Todd and Roger Hannah- Carole Directed and Roger Choreographed several of our Cinderella Pantomime seasons- and catching up with my mate Lesley Joseph and Ann Marie and Brian Conley.

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Patrick Moloney and Linda Haydn.

There were speeches- marvellous funny speeches! Brian Conley started the balls in the air rolling with his introduction of Michael Harrison. Michael took over and delivered a hugely funny and irreverent “Turn” (too funny to be a speech) with a canny Paul Elliott impression or two, before introducing the man himself.

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Michael Harrison. Brian Conley.

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Jenny Seagrove . Bill Kenwright

There is too much to say about Paul in this piece- in his own words- “Read The Book!”. Available now. Its sixty years of a life in theatre- the shows he’s produced are legendary- so many- From Buddy- The Buddy Holly Story, Jolson (With Brian Conley and later Allan Stewart) Annie (With Lesley Joseph)Dirty Dancing, Stones In Their Pockets (a brilliant play- I loved it!) In this country, and on Broadway, through Private Lives (with Kim Catrall- a very good chapter that!) and Rock Hudson in “I Do, I Do”, Run For Your Wife in The West End For Years and Big Bad Man with Jimmy Edwards and Paul’s mate Eric Sykes- to David Suchet in The Last Confession.

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Me enjoying the Pavlova, with AndrewRyan, Lesley Joseph (Thank you for the photos Lesley- you take a mean pic) and Michael Harrison.

Thank you Paul and Linda for a truly memorable and lovely family day- The book is a cracking good read, and you can buy it from http://www.theatre-shop.com in glorious hardback. It has a staggering listing of all of Paul Elliott’s Pantomimes with cast lists- I need a good glass of wine and a day just to go through those lists. I’m very proud to say a lot of Paul’s early panto programmes are safely stored in my drawers! They will I hope be added to the collecting that one day will heading for the V&A.

Paul- Thank you for those fabulous Pantomimes, and all the friends I made along the way!

At the risk of offending- and Im sure I will- I’ve written down all the people at Paul’s Party that I can remember. I think altogether a hundred and twenty theatrical folk were there- so I hope to add to this list as I get reminded. Apologies if I missed you out, please let me know! Here they are in random order!

Paul Elliott

Linda Elliott

LJ & Haydn Elliott

Bill Kenwright

Jenny Seagrove

Ray  and Linda Cooney

Mrs Cooney

Duncan Weldon & Anne Sidney

Michael Harrison

Kathryn Harrison & Alfie

David Ian

Jonathan Church

Jamie Wilson

Jonathan Kiley

Jake Hind

Peter Tod

Chris Merino

John Newman

Daphne Palmer

John De Lannoy

Jon Conway

David Mervish

Carlos and Louis Candell

Patrick Maloney

Lesley Joseph

Andrew Ryan

Nigel Ellacott

Brian Conley

Anne Marie Conley

David Bownes

Carole Todd

Roger Hannah

Dinesh Khanderia

Bernard Jay

Robin Asquith

Jan Hunt

Jane Danielle

John De Lannoy

Barry Burnett

Karan David

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Molly Limpet’s Exhibition

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On Saturday June 22nd Molly Limpet’s Emporium opened up to the public

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Aladdin’s Cave for Dames and Ugly Sisters!

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The day was packed with panto aficionados,Dames, Producers, and Panto fans – hosting an exhibition of costumes, with Panto Dame & Wig creator, David Robbins and some bling Jewels to make the eyes water- all under one roof!

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More sequins than there are in Julian Clary’s pedal bin!

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Thanks to Daniel Dawson for the photographs. I was away that day, but it sounds like everyone went to the Ball!

 

THE GILLIAN LYNNE THEATRE

It is with sadness that since publishing this article Dame Gillian Lynn died on 1st July 2018 leaving behind a huge legacy of work in this country and throughout the world. gillianlynne2

THE GILLIAN LYNNE THEATRE

The West End has a New Theatre – The former New London Theatre has been named in honour of Dame Gillian Lynne.

In March 2018  Lord Lloyd Webber announced the theatre would be renamed to celebrate Dame Gillian, choreographer of Cats for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn. It is the first west end venue to be named after a non royal woman.

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The above photograph by Craig Sugden

This theatre has a long association with the Musical “CATS” – the musical premiered here in May 1981 and ran until 2002.

Gillian Lynne was made a CBE in 1997, and created Dame in 2014. She is ninety-one years old, with a career that saw her principal dancer at Sadlers Wells Ballet, and at the Royal Opera House, and Principal dancer at The London Palladium.

She has choreographed and staged Phantom Of The Opera, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  among her many talents. When I was working at the Haymarket in Leicester it was Gillian Lynne who choreographed the production of “My Fair Lady” with Tony Britton, Liz Robertson and Dame Anna Neagle.  She received a new category of Olivier award for her outstanding achievement of the year in a Musical.

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Dame Gillian has appeared in pantomime- her first principal role was as Puss In Boots at The Coventry Theatre in 1957 with Harry Secombe starring and the up and coming Morcambe & Wise as the Miller’s Sons.

In 1962 Dame Gillian appeared as Queen Of Catland, opposite Dick Emery in “Puss In Boots” at The London Palladium Pantomime. The Pantomime also starred Frankie Vaughan, Jimmy Edwards, Joan Regan, Mike and Bernie Winters and Audrey Jeans.

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Dick Emery with Gillian Lynne

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The Gillian Lynne Theatre is directly opposite the Qdos suite of offices in Drury Lane.

PETER BYRNE : The Service

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Tuesday 12th June 2018

After several years as a resident of Denville Hall, The Actor’s retirement and care home in Northwood, west London, Peter Byrne died on May 14th.

A Service was held at Breakspear Crematorium nearby, with a full house, and a very moving tribute to “A terrific actor and a great bloke”, as it said on the order of service, or Programme as it was referred to.

The service was conducted by The Reverend James Fields, with Paul Elliott giving a personal tribute, the reading of a letter from Sheila Welch and a tribute from Peter’s Step Daughter, Vivien Gee.

A great turn out of Family, friends and colleagues who worked with Peter over a huge career- Just some of that career is mentioned in an earlier item on this Green Room Site.

I wasn’t able to remember everyone that was there, but I made an attempt to recall some- and there was a lovely atmosphere of remembering and recall anecdotes and off and on stage moments with his mates, back at Denville Hall.

Apologies to those I’ve missed out- perhaps you can let me know the names I didn’t quite catch or recall and I can add them here.

Vivien and Anthony Gee

Val Foice & Family (Peter’s Cousin)

Paul and Linda Elliott,

Haydn And L J Elliott,

Lalla Ward (Chairman of Denville Hall)

Chrissie from Denville Hall

David Webster

Sheila and Nick Welch

Doreen Hermitage

Audrey Laybourne

Spencer K Gibbons and Rudi Gibbons

Rev Cindy Kent

Ken Morley

Anita Graham and Richard Harris

Mark Wynter

Joe Harmston

John Hobbs and Ian,

John Newman & Daphne Palmer

Chris Moreno

John Fleming

Sarah Whitlock

Sylvia Carson

Moira Foot

Belinda Carroll

Nigel Ellacott

Andrew Ryan

Christopher Ryan

Madeline Smith

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A very lovely reception hosted by Denville Hall afterwards, and a big thank you for looking after us so well in this beautiful house.Thanks to Paul, Linda, Haydn and L J Elliott for organising such a tribute- It was a great send off. We left the service to the sound of “Dixon” himself, Jack Warner, singing the theme song “An ordinary copper” to the successful series, the one that Peter Byrne appeared in for 432 episodes, over 22 series and made him a household name.

God Bless Peter. It was a joy and a pleasure to have known  “A great bloke”.

 

Gary Wilmot MBE

Congratulations To Gary Wilmot, who today receives the MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List!

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Long known as Dame Gary, This amazingly talented – performer has been officially recognised, and has received the MBE . Here at IBY we couldn’t wish this honour on a nicer chap!

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Gary will be appearing as Dame in “Snow White” at The London Palladium this season, his second time as Dame at this famous West End Theatre.

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Follow this link to our “SPOTLIGHT ON GARY WILMOT”

https://ibygreenroom.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/spotlight-on-gary-wilmot/