Panto Pals!

The past couple of weeks has been a joy, meeting up with pals from Pantoland, and catching up on their news, seeing their shows and generally touching base after our various seasons across the country.

This week-end I’m off to Crufts to see Ashleigh Butler and Sully strut their stuff in the agility ring- the finals being just before “Best Of Show” on Sunday at the NECC in Birmingham.

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Ashleigh & Sully at Crufts last year.

Ashleigh and I have been together in two pantomimes- Northampton and High Wycombe and this year the duo went to The Sands Centre, Carlisle with Ashleigh as Dorothy in “The Wizard Of Oz”. Looking forward to catching up on Sunday and seeing Sully compete in the Agility. There was a taster on TV last night with Claire Balding interviewing Ashleigh, and a demonstration of some of the obstacles Sully will be facing in the ring!

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From last night’s Crufts on TV.

Last week-end (My Birthday week-end- yes, I’m approaching thirty, but I hear you ask “From which Direction?”) we went to Sunny Benidorm. In actuality it was Sunny Brighton to SEE Benidorm Live, at the Theatre Royal with our mate Sherrie Hewson as Joyce Temple-Savage. We had a fun couple of days catching up on things- Sherrie missed panto this year as the tour of Benidorm played the Alexandra Theatre Birmingham for the season for Michael Harrison and David Ian. The tour is continuing for another six weeks. I think this week marks the 200th Performance when they are in Aberdeen!

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In Sunny (actually rainy) Brighton with Sherrie Hewson and Andrew Ryan.

Sherrie and Andrew were in “Beauty & The Beast” at Nottingham Theatre Royal the year before last, and between Andrew and I we’ve been in four, possibly five pantos with Sherrie. we had a jolly time- the picture of Sherrie is at the Brighton Museum, which has a small section on performing Arts in the town. We’ll catch up with Miss Hewson in Wimbledon when Benidorm arrives there.

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Talking of Museums, The costumes I donated to the V&A Performance Galleries are still there on display, so there is still time to take a look at the Ballroom costumes worn by Peter Robbins and myself as we Go To The Ball!

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The social whirl continued with a Joe Allans meal with Chris Jarvis last week. Chris has just finished appearing, writing and Directing Poole Lighthouse “Dick Whittington” and is, in fact nominated in the Best Principal Boy section of the Great British Pantomime Awards! Chris and I did Wycombe Jack & The Beanstalk the year before last, and Andrew Ryan has appeared with Chris in panto as well. Here’s a picture of Chris,Me, Richie, and Andrew.

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Andrew Ryan, James Horne, Nigel Ellacott

A few days before here’s Andrew and I with Panto Dame James Horne. James is the veteran of many a Panto across the country,and a frequent performer in the West End.  He and Andrew played Sister together at Bath Theatre Royal back in the day. Here we are having a jolly evening at Bar Atlantic, in Zedel’s.

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Linking in quite nicely- here’s the current line up for Bath Theatre Royal- and today (March 8th) is our Panto Pal Nick Wilton’s Birthday! Nick was at Blackpool Grand last season, and returns to Bath with his mate Jon Monie for this year’s panto.

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Michelle Potter

Birthday girl (8th March) today is the lovely Michelle Potter, seen here in “Cinderella” with Brian Conley. This was taken at Nottingham Theatre Royal when Peter Robbins and I were Ugly Sisters- I think Michelle was our “Cinders” for four Pantomimes. Happy Birthday Michelle!

It’s a small small world! Crossing the car park of the Kenneth More Theatre today, I ran into the company of “The Feel Good Show”, headlined by Roger Wright that is currently touring. Amongs the cast, my lovely gorgeous mate Denise Pitter! 

Denise was Fairy Godmother in Nottingham in 2009 when Michelle Potter was Cinderella. How apt we met up today on Michelle’s Birthday! Here we are today backstage.

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Nigel & Denise

My joy was walking along the dressing room corridor at The Theatre Royal passing two doors that said “Pitter” and “Potter”. Easily amused! Here is Denise and Michelle with Brian Conley. Brian of course is currently starring in “Nine To Five” at The Savoy Theatre, London.

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Denise, Brian & Michelle

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Victoria Aindow, Lucy Reed, Nigel Ellacott & Sam Sadler. Brick Lane Music Hall.

To finish off a busy few weeks of socialising, we called in to see “Mother’s Goosed” the Panto for Grown-Ups at Brick Lane Music Hall. It was a joyful and different experience to be sitting out front in the packed auditorium watching the fun and frolics onstage for a change. First visit out front in Five Years!

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Every One A Water Rat! From The GOWR we have Brick Lane Boss Vincent Hayes, Chris Emmett (from The News Huddlines and TV’s “3,2,1”)with Paul James and  Fifties Pop Idol Jess Conrad with Andrew Robley.

Had a great afternoon watching the panto and catching up with everyone at BLMH. We sat near the wonderful trio of musicians, Tom Carradine, Andy Pook and Martin Layzell. Here’s a backstage picture of the company.

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This photo includes Jess’s wife Renee, David Phipps Davis as Demon, Phil Randall as Goose, Mark Hinton Designer and Andrew Ryan and myself.

A great afternoon out. The Panto at Brick Lane Music Hall is a complete sell-out, and has been since well before Christmas. It finishes on Saturday. Next year it will yet again be Extended by a week! So this has to be the last panto still running of the season! Now, all around the UK the new popularity of Easter Panto is about to go into rehearsal! Long live Pantoland and all the mates we meet on the way!

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