Pantomime Roadshow Returns Home!

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Grant Alvarez & Andrew Ryan

The Pantomime Roadshow returned home after five weeks of Panto promotion and Fun around the UK.

The First two weeks were for The Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford- touring schools in the London Borough of Redbridge and further afield to Newham and to East Ham. For these two weeks Andrew Ryan and I were joined by Grant Alvarez on our travels, with ten performances a week for the fortnight. Many thanks to Steven Day and the KMT for this opportunity to bring the Magic Of Panto far and wide!

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Grant & Nigel

Leaving London we headed to Darlington to represent the Civic Theatre- huge thanks to Qdos for arranging this . For these ten shows we were joined by Roadshow veteran Nathan Daniels.

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Nathan Daniel

Many thanks to Chris Wellings at the Civic Theatre for looking after us so well. Andrew (Ryan) will be returning very shortly to direct Ashleigh, Pudsey, Brendan Sheering and my mate Nikki Evans in “Cinderella”, before heading straight to his own rehearsals to play Widow Twankey at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

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Darlington Civic Theatre’s “Cinderella”

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Leaving Darlington we headed the short hop to Newcastle and the Theatre Royal for another ten performances, arranged by Michael Harrison and Qdos– many thanks also to Ian Wilson for organising. Nathan appeared with us this week also, as well as fitting in performances at The Boulevard, Newcastle!

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Danny Adams, Clive Webb & Chris Hayward at The Theatre Royal

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Kim Hoffman did a splendid job organising the week, and getting the press along. We got the chance to catch up several times with Chris Hayward, Dame Rita FitzFenwick in this year’s “Dick Whittington”, and he very kindly called in to our Friday show to take part in a Q&A session with the children afterwards. Thanks Chris!

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Darras Hall First School, Newcastle

Here’s what the Northumberland Gazette had to say about the afternoon:

Pupils at Ponteland’s Darras Hall First School were treated to a workshop by the cast of Newcastle Theatre Royal’s upcoming production of Dick Whittington on Friday.

The roadshow involved a 45-minute play going behind the scenes of the panto and giving children the chance to learn all about the traditions of pantomime, as well as seeing what goes into putting on one of the seasonal shows.

Peter Tincombe, Headteacher at the Broadway school, said: “We are very fortunate to have benefited from the visit of the pantomime roadshow, which the children have hugely enjoyed.

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“Opportunities afforded by the roadshow are immensely valuable, both for providing high-quality enjoyment and also, perhaps most importantly, to provide our children with the chance to work and perform with professional actors in front of an audience of their peers.

“The performances today will fondly remain with the children for many years.”

A short play was followed by a question-and-answer session, and there was an opportunity for a handful of children to try out the show’s costumes for themselves.

The show’s real-life dame, Chris Hayward, was on hand to answer questions.

“When I used to do panto all over England, we used to go into the schools and do chats, but this is the first time I’ve done anything like this near Newcastle,” said the 51-year-old.

“It’s funny what some of the kids talk about. One asked ‘what were you like when you were a little girl?’, and they don’t understand, but it’s nice to be involved with it.

Fellow cast member Nigel Ellacott added: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn where panto comes from and its fairytale traditions – how we dress men as women and used to have ladies dressed as men, as well as the educational elements of increasing their vocabulary to include theatrical terminology.”

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The Grey Street theatre’s pantomime runs from Tuesday, November 24, until Sunday, January 17.

Talking about returning to Newcastle again, Hayward added: “I love it.

“I love doing panto here, and the audiences are always brilliant, and there are really busy, good houses every day and, of course, it’s nice to be home.”

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We left Nathan behind to do his three Boulevard shows as we headed for North Wales and the joys of Llandudno. Before starting the last week of ten shows, Andrew and I caught up with our mate Sherrie Hewson and enjoyed a jolly Sunday up the Orme and catching up on her CBB news! There was a lot of it, as you can imagine!

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Osbourne House & The Can Y Bae

Sherrie is off to Leicester for Panto this year at the De Montford Hall.

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Monday saw us joined once again by Grant, and ten shows for the Venue Cymru. Thanks to Sarah Ecob and to Karin Bruns for a lovely week, taking in some of the most gorgeous scenery as we travelled from one school to another.

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Truly “Mae hen wlad fy nhadau” is a glorious place, and I am very excited to be here once again for Panto giving my Nanny Myfanwy. (Thanks to Lee Redwood for suggesting the name!).

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We stayed, as always at the Can Y Bae, my home for Panto of course, and were looked after amazingly by Michael and Dave. I’m back there in about five weeks time, hopefully with my lines for “Snow White” learned!

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On the Wednesday we played Theatr Colwyn, performing to over 200 schoolchildren in the afternoon, and to Coleg Llandrillo in the morning,giving them a taste of the Panto mayhem to be found in “Snow White” this year! Thanks to Phil Batty, Aidi Jones and the crew for sorting us out in this jewel of the theatre in Colwyn Bay.

We missed John Evans by four days! John was at Theatr Colwyn on Saturday with his show raising funds for the local arts and filming a DVD. Look forward to viewing that between shows!

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The Colwyn Bay Gang for Venue Cymru!

Five weeks. Something like forty eight performances (and eighty four get-ins and outs!) great company, always great food (!) and about 3,000 children a week entertained and, we hope educated in the magic of Pantomime!218

To all concerned, thank you so much!

Nigel Ellacott

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