After a long gap, during which time Pantomimes throughout the country have experienced strange and difficult times, the Pantomime Awards evening was held at The Trafalgar Theatre on Tuesday 19th April.
A red carpet and posh frock event, Headline sponsored by Butlins and with awards sponsored by creatives and companies, brought to the stage by the UK Pantomime Association- formed to explore, share and celebrate pantomime- not just for this night, but for the future, with forthcoming workshops, talks, and special events for a theatrical genre that can now boast (thanks to Staffs University) an MA course in Pantomime!
The evening was hosted as always by Christopher Biggins,
President of the UK Pantomime Association, and a Panto Dame of legend. This year Chris will be appearing as Mrs Smee at the Darlington Hippodrome.
For all the details of The Pantomime Awards, and information about the UK Pantomime association, take a look at their website http://www.pantomimeassociation.co.uk
The evening was to celebrate pantomimes throughout the UK, to enjoy the company of Panto Pals that we rarely get to see, and to present some awards.
Andrew Ryan and I were there to present the first award of the Evening, and, as it turned out, I had a VERY surprising and heartwarming evening! More of that in a moment…
There were a total of 27 awards this evening, and I will mention these – the first was presented by Andrew Ryan and myself, to celebrate The Best Ugly Sisters. The nominations and the winners are all to be found on the Pantomime awards website, in our presentation the nominees were Beth Bradley and Paul Toulson (Bracknell), Jimmy Chisholm and Mark Cox (Greenock), Duncan Burt and Nic Gibney (Bath), Robin Simpson and Paul Hawkyard (York Theatre Royal) and Harry Howle and Chris Aukett. (Portsmouth New Theatre).
After playing Ugly Sister for Twenty-Eight Years, and discovering between us Andrew and I have appeared in 83 Pantomimes, it was a great pleasure to announce the winners- Duncan Burt & Nic Gibney Theatre Royal Bath for UK Productions! Congratulations to all nominees and the Winners tonight!
The evening was slick and fast and between the presentations for awards such as Best Dame- Morgan Brind (Derby).
Best Direction – Paul Hendy (Canturbury Evolution), Best Comic- Tam Ryan (Wolverhampton), Best Choreography- Jonny Bowles Belfast Crossroads Pantomimes) and Best Newcomer- Rob Rinder (Bristol Crossroads), there were performances, guest presenters and one big surprise for me.. a total shock..
I won The Outstanding Achievement Award! At the end of the evening the final winners were onstage , and we were sitting at the back of the Circle. I thought I had time to make a dash for the toilet prior to seeing the final award. At that point I was intercepted and told to get down to the auditorium as i was needed… I arrived just in time to hear Chris Biggins say some very lovely words, and I was onstage accepting the award, for which I am truly grateful and extremely gobsmacked to have been honoured with! I really had NO idea this was planned, and my thanks go to the UK Pantomime association for this honour. I am truly privileged.
The next day the Sun reported this and other pantomime awards, and the very moving presentation by Scott Mitchell of an award in his name of his late wife, the legendary Barbara Windsor for Best Principal Boy in Pantomime. Here’s the link to the newspaper article.
I winged my speech, and hope I thanked everyone concerned. This evening has truly been a celebration of the theatre that I live and breathe- Pantomime, and its performers, creatives, writers, costumiers, set designers, stage management and now, thanks to Dr Robert Marsden and Staffordshire Universary, for MA Students of this unique art form. Simon Curtis and its-behind-you.com are at the forefront in bringing Panto to the fore, and I am hugely grateful and proud for what this website has achieved over the past twenty years.
Chris’s words of presentation were very special to me, coming from our Iconic Dame figure. This is a precis of the UK Pantomime Association’s words:
Nigel Ellacott began his career in 1974, an experienced, respected and knowledgeable authority on pantomime, Nigel Ellacott is a talented script writer, costume designer, costume maker , performer and historian. An ambassador for the genre, he has supported many individuals, companies and theatres throughout their careers, as well as inspiring generations of panto lovers through his work and website “its-behind-you.com”
Many thanks too to Ellie Hoskins for the photographs in this article.
The evening had some amazing performances, from the wickedly funny Myra Dubois, to the gorgeous voice of Gracie McGonigal.
A highlight was an extract from the Butlin’s Pantomime company of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, led by the wonderful Dame Michael J Batchelor and Joey Wilby as Joey The Clown. The cast featured Laura Dean Perryman as Goldilocks, with David Sharp, Aisleen Murphy and Jessica Lee as the three bears, with the Ensemble comprising Ellie Carwithen, Dominic Charles, Jordan Declan Field and Kayleigh Patient.
The inclusion of Max Fulham as presenter was very welcomed, bringing his ventriloquism skills to the fore. Last season he was at Bromley with Chris Biggins in Panto.
Awards went to Vikki Stone for Best script (Hammersmith), to Matt Cross for best lighting (Kings Lynn), to Alex Linney, Best Sound (Gaiety Isle of Man), Cleo Pettitt for Best Set design (Watford), to Celia Perkins for Costume Design Aladdin at Oldham Coliseum, the Best Villain was Rolan Bell (Cambridge).
the Carmen Silvera award, presented by Vikki Michelle went to Alexandra Burke for “Aladdin”, Opera House Manchester- Crossroads Pantomimes, and Best Ensemble to Dick Whittington at Guildford, with Best Principal Girl award to Naomi Alade (Oxford)
Best MD award to Jamie Noar for Everyman Liverpool, and Best Supporting artiste Kate Donnachie (Hammersmith Lyric).
The Best Early Career Newcomer was Becca Lee- Isaacs (Huddersfield Robin Hood), To Joe Tracini , To Justin Fletcher & Paul Morse (Balloon Ballet ) and to Justin Brett, Susan Harrison and Ali James for fully improvised Frontcloth executionThe Best Digital Panto went to the New Wolsey Ipswich.
The hotly contested “Best Pantomime ” awards were in three catagories- under 500 seats was Robin Hood at the Liverpool Everyman, the 500-900 seats to”Aladdin” at the Lyric Hammersmith, and the award for the Best Pantomime over 900 seats went to Jack & The Beanstalk at the Marlowe Canturbury (Evolution Productions).
Again, if you’d like to know more about the awards, and the UK Pantomime association, this is their website:
A huge thank you to everyone concerned, and I was truly overwhelmed by the messages I received the following day on Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. A fabulous night celebrating our greatest unique British art form- PANTOMIME! Long may it reign!