Monthly Archives: May 2014

Not Just For Christmas!

With Summer heading our way (hopefully) and after the warmest Spring in many a year, it is Panto Time! Oh yes it is! Yesterday I had my meeting with the Kenneth More Theatre about the costume designs for the Ilford panto “Dick Whittington” and I’ll be starting getting it all together between now and the middle of September.

From September through until the end of November Panto-mania rules, as I’ll be off with the Panto Roadshow,along with Andrew Ryan- starting with Two Weeks for the London Borough Of Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and all points East, followed by a week in Southampton for the Mayflower Theatre, A week in Llandudno for Venue Cymru, followed by Glasgow for the SECC and Wolverhampton for the Grand Theatre with more dates to follow.

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So it really IS Panto time from now on. Once the Roadshow tour finishes at the end of November it will be straight into rehearsals- Hull “Aladdin” for me and Nottingham Theatre Royal’s “Snow White” for Andrew which takes us into January. and then maybe even beyond- watch this space!

Panto is not just for Christmas- around the UK theatres and Holiday Parks are preparing a Summer Panto season, and to start the(cannon)  ball rolling here’s news about a Pirate Panto heading for the Weymouth Pavilion!

If you are presenting a Summer Panto, do send the details to Simon & I here at IBY and we’ll make certain we give it an airing here in the Green Room.

Ship Ahoy!

PIRATES OF THE PAVILION

This Summer Season at Weymouth the Pavilion Theatre is boarded by “Pirates Of The Pavilion” a panto style summer show that takes place every Tuesday from 15th July through to 26th August, twice daily.

 Written and Directed by Lee Redwood, this Ron Martin Management Production- producers of Cinderella at The Pavilion  invites the audience to join them as they set sail for Mermaid Reef in search of treasure, with audience participation, songs and panto fun all the way.

 The cast includes Danny Rogers, Charlotte Allen, Lizzie Frances and Alex Anstey with UV Puppets and a full supporting cast.

 Lee Redwood, no stranger to The Pavilion Pantomime and the role of Panto Dame , said:

 I am extremely excited to be bringing this fantastic brand new show to life in Weymouth. After the success of CINDERELLA, the natural step was to bring a quality family production to the Pavilion Theatre for the 2014 Summer Season. I am very much looking forward to working with our professional and talented cast, and can’t wait to get started!’

 Tickets available from the Box Office on 01305 783 225 or via www.weymouthpavilion.com priced at £13 for adults and £11 for Children & Senior Citizens.

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 For more information see:

www.facebook.com/piratesofthepavilion

twitter: @pavilionpirates

HULL and High Water!

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I’m delighted to announce this year’s festive fun will be at The New Theatre Hull- and the Pantomime is “Aladdin”!

I’m also delighted that I get to do Panto once again with my mate Sherrie Hewson, upon her return from Sunny Benidorm, and once again tread those boards with Keith, Orville and (“I hate that Monkey!”) Cuddles.We were last together at the Grand Wolverhampton two years ago.

Seems incredible, but it has been a full Twenty Five Years since I was last here in “Cinderella!”- With Les Dennis, Ronnie Hilton and Natalie Cleverley! I did a couple of pantomimes with Nat, who has remained a big mate, and in fact I’ll be costuming her this year in her role as Queen Rat in my local Kenneth More Theatre’s “Dick Whittington!”

Aladdin Pantomime at Venue Cymru 2011

Back in 1989 when Peter Robbins and I went to Hull for “Cinderella”, Natalie had recently understudied Marti Webb in Panto at the London Palladium, and played the role of Robin Hood there for a week. She played Dandini at Hull with Les as Buttons, Sophie Aldred as Cinders, and the glorious and much missed Ronnie Hilton as Baron Hardup.

Quite a few of us lived on the newly built Marina there, and had a great time. I know I  can say the same for this year’s trip to Twankey-Land- In this City of Culture 2014.

Here’s the poster from quarter of a century ago!

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Fifty odd years before I played Panto in Hull, the theatre for Pantomime was the Palace- The New Theatre was not set to open for another four years. This Panto Bill (and NO- I am NOT in it!) starred Radio and variety star Sandy Powell – his catchphrase on radio was “Can you hear me, Mother?” and he presented this show himself- a company of FIFTY artists! I had the pleasure of meeting Sandy and his wife Kay White a few times when they toured in variety, and in fact they both stayed at my parent’s “Digs” when they played Swansea. Like Ronnie Hilton they were huge stars and very lovely people.

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Aladdin Pantomime at Venue Cymru 2011

More information on casting as it arrives from the Qdos office, and now to the serious matter of sorting out the digs!

CHRIS HARRIS

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CHRIS HARRIS- Pantomime Dame

 

Here at IBY we were saddened to hear the news that Chris Harris has passed away this week.

Born in Bridgewater, for thirteen years Chris Harris was resident Dame at Bath’s beautiful Theatre Royal for UK Productions. This past Christmas Chris starred as Governess Gertie in UK’s “Peter Pan” alongside Cliff Parisi and his comedy partner Jon Monie. Both Jon and Chris led the fun at Panto time in Bath- Chris Harris playing Dame for UK in 2001 and the following year directing and appearing as Dame.

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Jon Monie with Chris Harris

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The  Bath Chronicle newspaper has a tribute to Chris Harris: http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Warm-tributes-Mr-Theatre-Royal-panto-Chris-Harris/story-21040413-detail/story.html

Before The Theatre Royal Chris co-wrote and appeared in Nine seasons at the Bristol Old Vic, until the Millennium. Along with Chris Denys he created the Old Vic pantomimes each year. He wrote “Chris Harris’s Alphabet Of Pantomime”, and ran workshops from time to time in the art of pantomime and comedy. His one man shows reflected his love of panto- “A Night At The Pantomime” and “’Arris’s Music ‘All” being two of them.

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A regular broadcaster for BBC Radio Bristol, there is a tribute to him on their website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-27236204

Chris Harris had previously played in rep at Salisbury, Worthing and Lincoln, and was at the forefront in raising sponsorship for Sam Wannamaker’s “Globe” theatre on the South Bank in London. He toured the USA in a fund raising presentation for Wannamaker, along with Dame Cleo Lane, Johnny Dankworth, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and Michael York.

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He appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and wrote a biography of the Shakespearean comedian “The Forgotten Clown”, Will Kemp. He created “Kemp’s Jig”, “An Elizabethan Roadshow” which he toured to theatres and festivals across the country. It celebrated the true tale of Will Kemp, Shakespearean comic actor who undertook a nine day morris dance from London to Norwich.

“Kemp’s Jig” received great notices for his one man performances- “Chris Harris is a one man cast of thousands” (Wells Festival) and “A masterpiece of comic acting” (The Guardian). Kemp created the roles of Touchstone, Gobbo and Dogberry for Shakespeare.  As I write this I am near a local pub “The Great Spoon Of Ilford” that celebrates Kemp’s visit during that journey, during which he received A “Great Spoon”- over two pints of ale from the town en route to Romford. It was a subject very dear to Chris’s heart.

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Television appearances included several episodes of the children’s series “Hey Look- That’s Me!” in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s. He appeared in “Into The Labyrinth” among other television roles during this period, and fronted several documentaries.

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It is as Bath and the West’s Premier Pantomime Dame that he will be most fondly remembered-almost  quarter of a century of playing Dame in the City and a regular attraction each pantomime season, thirteen of them for UK Productions.

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Martin Dodd,of UK Productions Ltd had this to say about Chris Harris today:

It was an absolute privilege and a pleasure to have had the good fortune to work with Chris Harris for the last 13 years on the Theatre Royal Bath pantomimes. He was the consummate professional both as a Director and performer and so generous to his fellow actors. With his extraordinary talent, and given his role as Director and script adaptor, he could so easily have hogged the limelight, but that was never his way. He firmly believed that the best production came out of a team performance and he worked so very hard to make sure all of his fellow actors got their share of the story and their chance to shine. Chris always brought something unique to each new production and his routines will never be forgotten.

He was a true gentleman of the theatre and he will live long in our memories and the memories of all those audience members who were fortunate to have witnessed one of his performances.

Chris will always be remembered by me as a great actor, a great Director and most importantly a great man and friend.

 ChrisHarrispic