RICHMOND THEATRE, LONDON Tuesday 9th August 2022
A fabulous “Greatest Panto On Earth” kind of Press day at the beautiful Matcham Designed Richmond Theatre today. A day of fun and a lot of enjoyment as the theatre had organised a “Circus Skills” day on the Green in front of the theatre.

Outside The Richmond Theatre.

The day began with a very large car arriving to take me and my over sized costume and headdresses (always take spares in case of strong wind!) at the crack of dawn. Travelled across London to the very sumptuous Petersham Hotel. The Hotel has spectacular views over to the River Thames. No time to admire the view- we had suites (fancy!) to change (I would really like my suite for the run- it’s only a short taxi hop to Stage Door..if you’re listening Beautiful Petersham Hotel..NO? Worth a try!) and transform into Betty Barnum for the photos.

Betty Barnum is born!

Met up with Charlotte from Crossroads and the lovely marketing Team from the Richmond Theatre, and met Matt Baker-starring as Joey The Clown in our Pantomime. I saw Matt in the same role at the London Palladium in Michael Harrison’s “Goldilocks & The Three Bears”, and delighted to be working with him- I might even learn a few Circus Skills from him- he juggles, he tightrope walks- he’s very limber. I too am flexible. I can do Tuesdays and Thursdays at the bingo.

Doing porridge at The Petersham! Headdress too subtle?

From Left to Right: Phil Walker (Ringo The Ringmaster) Tamara Morgan (Goldilocks) Nigel Ellacott (Betty Barnum) Matt Baker (Joey The Clown) Jessica Martin (Countess Von Vinkelbottom)

First person I bumped into in the foyer was the gorgeous Jessica Martin . I have know Jessica for a good while- and remember her visiting Gary Wilmot when we worked together, and indeed seeing Jessica & Gary in their wonderful run in “Me & My Girl” in The West End. An amazing impressionist and Musical Theatre leading lady- She is giving her somewhat evil (although she would dispute this) Rival circus owner Countess Von Vinklebottom in the panto, and oh we are going to have such fun feuding!

Jessica Martin

In the luxury suite, using the marble bathroom as Betty’s Boudoir, delighted to meet Phil Walker, who will be playing our Ringmaster, Ringo! Phil writes, Directs and performs Pantos, when he’s not entertaining and running his Comedy Club near Blackpool. I had to confess to Phil we’d met before- a VERY long time ago, when I worked with his Dad- Roy (Catchphrase) Walker! It was, I blush to say, thirty-four years ago, when Phil was visiting his Dad in “Cinderella”-At The Mayflower Southampton. Roy played The Baron, And I was a ridiculous young Child Prodigy of an Ugly Sister!

We were lucky to have Tamara Morgan, our Goldilocks with us today- she’s currently appearing in a production in the Midlands, and had to dash down and dash back by train to be in time for her evening performance!

Charlotte from Crossroads Pantomimes and the Richmond Theatre team took us for more photos, and a brief taxi ride to the Theatre (if you see what I’m wearing above you can imagine the loading into a black cab scenario- if we weren’t bosom buddies before, we were by the time we got out!

The Theatre is undergoing a very thorough refurb, and luckily the resident Stage Manager was able to let us go on the stage for a few photos. It still has that “rake”, quite a steep rake to the stage, and that undeniable intimacy. The Matcham auditorium just wraps itself around the performers like a warm embrace. I might need a lie down after that last statement!

The absolute highlight of the day was going across the road to Richmond Green to meet the children, parents and performers who were enjoying “Circus Skills” day in the sunshine. Mini stil walking, hula hoops, springboards, those cotton reel thingies you whip up into the air with a skipping rope (very technical Circus talk here) and Balloon modelling, plate spinning- just such fun for all! Matt Baker was straight in, juggling and showing the youngsters how to spin plates- as did Tamara – the children drawn to Goldilocks and her beautiful colourful costume, and had a fun afternoon with The Countess and Betty! we all loved the afternoon!

We look forward to meeting up with that incredible Magician, Phil Hitchcock- Phil was in “Goldilocks” last year at Birmingham and previously, like Matt at The London Palladium “Goldilocks & The Three Bears. What a stunning and totally mystifying act, truly International and can’t wait until the rehearsals! We will also be joined by the Amazing Gordon Marquez- a truly fantastic juggler and star of many a big top and cabaret.

A huge thank you to all at Richmond Theatre for organising today. We returned to do Press interviews and pieces to camera, and when we left Matt was going strong with interviews. We are going to have a great time- lovely show- a first for me- Never appeared in “Goldilocks”, and I’m currently on 48th Panto I believe! Its been a long time since I was at Richmond in Panto (I’ve returned in plays but not Panto) – last here in 1986 with the lovely Anneka Rice!

Richmond Station! Mind The Gap!
See you soon for The Greatest Show On Earth!

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