Belgrade Theatre Coventry
December 15th 1977-January 28th 1978
Reg Dixon, Buster Skeggs, Ellis Jones, Carol Cleveland, Nigel Ellacott, Malcolm Reid, Colman O’ Doherty, Judy Riley, Robert Benfield, James Harvey, Pat Garrett, Shirley McGennity, Pauline Osborn, Lindsay Richards, The Belgrade Babes.
Directed by Ed Thomason, Designed by Terry Parsons, Choreography Pauline Osborn, Musical Director Terry White, Lighting Paul Carter, Senior SM Ian Tunstall, Sound Peter Balint.
Nigel Ellacott as Priscilla and Reg Dixon as Mother Goose
My agent Keith Salberg told me that I was unlikely to play comic in Panto as I was a bit too young, and comics in commercial pantos were names- but he said if I “Specialised” (I think doing a role not many people wanted to do!) I would always get work. Having played Goose at Ilford the year before- This Panto saw me in the Rolls Royce of Geese- designed by Terry Parsons, and created by master craftsman of puppets- Peter Pullen! He also told me “Rep” pantos paid better- their contracts were for 8 shows, commercial pantos 12- so you got overtime on the extra four shows a week plus- at the Belgrade- “In House” accommodation! Flats for performers within the theatre, highly subsidised! A Golden Egg indeed!
Carole Cleveland as Fairy, Malcolm Reid as Demon and a brand new Terry Parson set and costumes. The Goose made by the very talented Peter Pullen.
Reg “Confidentally”Dixon was the star- His catchphrase was “I’ve been proper poorly” from his Variety Bandbox years on Radio, and a very big star of Stage- he replaced George Formby at The Palace Theatre London in 1952 in “Zip Goes A Million” and played for 18 months. Star of recordings “Confidentally” – his Theme song is here on YouTube: Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-ve_TgPx58
The pic accompanying the YouTube recording is from this panto. It was his fifth panto in his home town, and at that point his 30th. I was pretty much in awe, but not when he kept forgetting I was INSIDE the Goose, and kept hugging the gooses neck- underneath was me in a crash helmet affair strapped to my head. I had the wings attached to my elbows, the two cords working the eyes infront of my face, a duck call in my mouth, a vast feather and metal body – oh and tap shoes under the webbed feet! No wonder no-one else wanted the job!
The glamour of Theatre!
Ellis Jones was know to TV viewers from “The Squirrels”, and played Hal in “Pardon My Genie” with Roy Barraclough and Hugh Paddick.
Buster Skeggs as Colin
Buster, Judy and me in the Belgrade Dressing Rooms
My first experience of a Terry Parsons designed panto- Costumes and scenery drowning in feathers and glitter! Remained friends over the years with Carol Cleveland- Carol was the only female member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and was a stunning Fairy, and Malcolm Reid a Glorious Demon King. I remained in touch with Malcolm until he passed away this December (2019). I’m still in contact with Buster Skeggs. Our “Jill” Principal Girl Pat Garett became Choreographer in films such as “Little Shop Of Horrors”, The Muppet Movies for Henson and at The National Theatre, RSC and over fifty theatre credits.