When I knew I was going to be in “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” this season at the Richmond Theatre, It was a first for me. A subject I have never done, and a pantomime I saw only a few times, the most notable being Michael Harrison’s London Palladium production.
I really didn’t know when it became a pantomime, and how it ranked in order of our most recent. If “Snow White” is the “Baby” panto, dating after the Disney cartoon, and Peter Pan from J.M Barrie’s Edwardian play, then it was a surprise to discover “Goldilocks” is fairly recent. While some pantos date back to mid Victorian and earlier, this subject began in an infant form in the 1920’s. It did not become the full “Circus” themed show we know today until the 1950’s and even then the character names and plots were not settled until the Howard & Wyndham version- we have David Croft (of Dad’s Army Fame) to thank for that- he wrote the template version for H&W.
Here is Part One of the “Goldilocks” story- part two to follow AFTER I’ve completed my season in Richmond! This is a pretty comprehensive look at the beginnings of our tale, and will go from the Roaring Twenties up to the end of the Swinging Sixties.
GOLDILOCKS- Once Upon A Time…
The first Mention was in 1837 . Tthe Poet Robert Southey said he had learned it from his Uncle, William Dove. It had never appeared in print before.
It was Southey who immortalised the taleof the Three Bears. In “The Doctor”.
Over the next 75 years chief character (we now call her Goldilocks) changes from an ill tempered Crone to a radiant maiden.
The man who reduced her age is probably Joseph Cundall in 1849. In a letter to his children:
“The story of The Three Bears” is a very old Nursery Tale, but it was never as well told as by the great poet Southey… I have made the the intruder a little girl instead of an old woman. I did this because I found that the tale is better known with “Silver Hair”, and because there are so many other stories of old women”
“Silver-Hair” remains the usual name for the little girl for many years, in 1858 she is “Silver Locks”, in 1868 she is “Golden Hair”, and in 1904 in “Old Nursery Stories and Rhymes” she is finally “Goldilocks”. She has remained that ever since.
In the 1890 “English Fairy Tales” by Joseph Jacobs “The Three Bears” is the only example of the tale directly traced to an author) except for Robinson Crusoe- created by Daniel Defoe.
In 1894 Jacobs changes his tale-He had heard a tale of three bears who lived in a castle in a wood ,with their chairs, milk and beds.The intruder was a wily fox named “scrapefoot”. He surmised Southey mistook the name for a she-fox to mean an old harridan.
In 1951 a manuscript was discovered –a home made booklet- The Story of The Three Bears from 1831. “The Celebrated nursery tale”was put into verse and illustrated for little Horace Broke, by his Aunt Eleanor Muire- The intruder now is an Angry Old Woman, and the bowls contained milk, not porridge.
There are distant Origins: “Sneewitchen” (early Snow White/Snow Drop) In this tale she finds the house of seven dwarfs, tries out meals, tries out seats, tries outtheir beds. “Who has been eating off my Plate?”, “Who has been lying on my bed?” – they discover The Fairest Lady In The Land.
In a Norwegian Folk Tale, a Princess finds a cave inhabited by Three Bears, the meal includes porridge, and beds- she lies under the bed to hide. The Bears are in fact Russian Princes, who at night cast off their bearskins.
For this article the Title “Goldilocks And The Three Bears” is shortened to “Goldilocks” Throughout!
The first reference in 1900 of a FAIRY GOLDILOCKS was in “Babes In The Wood”, Manchester played by Lillie Brammer.
In 1922 there is a play, a modern telling of the story, set in Canada. It premiered at at Royal Court Liverpool.
THE FIRST REFERENCE TO A PANTO VERSION was in 1922
The Story of the pantomime remains fluid for its early years. The Circus element we come to associate with “Goldilocks” has not yet formed. Character names are yet to be settled. The Principal boy is Colin, or Victor, Lancelot, Rupert, Roland, or in one case Prince Charming.
The only slight reference to a Circus element being introduced is that the Principal Boy is sometimes a “Travelling Showman”, and the Robbers are sometimes showmen too.
The Comic can be Billy, Silly Billy or Sandy, or whiffles.
The villain in one version remains “Grab”, and a Baron and a Count appear with Fairy Queen and Demon King. In most versions Goldilocks is kidnapped and saved by the Principal Boy, often a Prince, aided by the Fairy.
The scenes are similar to other Nursery Rhyme pantomimes. One version has A toy fort, and a village called Bramblemere, and another a Bear’s hut that transforms in to a Snow scene. The most odd scenic change is described as “On The Nile”, before the happy ending in the Palace Beautiful. It is a Pantomime in progress through the 1920’s and into the 1930’s.
The Pantomime producers Howard & Wyndham were mainly responsible for putting “Goldilocks” into the major Theatres from the 1950’s and for the creation of the Circus storyline that we see today. By the mid 1950’s, in part thanks to David Croft (of “Dad’s Army Fame) the Pantomime plot began to encompass the Circus theme, the Dame as owner of a failing Circus, and adventures with the rival Circus Owner.The three Bears are responsible for saving the Circus.
JOHN HART’S “GOLDILOCKS & THE THREE BEARS”
JOHN HART produces “Goldilocks and The Three Bears”in 1922 at Manchester Opera House. The Following year it transferred to Leeds Grand, 1923-24, and then Bristol in 1924-25
Horace Mills played Dame, Norah Delany was “Colin” The Principal Boy. She sang “Shufflin’ Along”, “Keep On Smiling” and “That’s how I believe in you”. It played to large audiences.
The scenes included The Palace of Porcelain, The Throne Room, At The Zoo, and The Aerial Express.
John Hart’s “Goldilocks” played the Prince’s Bristol in the 1924-25 season, with Horace Mills, Johnnie Schofield and Dorothy Leigh as Victor with Denise St Leger as Second Principal Boy. Kit Keen was Captain Bullet, and Phyllis Goodwin was Fairy Queen. The role of Goldilocks was played by Beryl Lesley.
In 1923 John Hart’s “Goldilocks” transferred to The Leeds Grand Theatre.
In The Leeds season Horace Mills played Mrs Tippett, Benita Lydal was “Victor”, and Vesta Sylva was Goldilocks .Her father , the Mayor was played by Jack Tregale. Johnnie Schofield Jnr was Oswald.. The cast included Mabel Harley as Dolce, a Fairy.The pantomime ran for nine weeks.
Early Touring Versions- Goldilocks & The Three Bears was to become mainly a touring pantomime, playing three or four theatres in a season, sometimes extending into march for longer tours.
In 1923 two touring versions of “Goldilocks” appeared on the circuit. One produced by Leslie Lynn had in their advertising“Seven scenes, 25 real artists, clean comedy, latest songs and was beautifully dressed and staged”.
A second version of “Goldilocks”(1923-24) was created by Gilpin & Brennan, in “Nine scenes”. This version toured for several years, and featured Child Impressionist and Dancer Dorothy Owen as Goldilocks. With J. Clare-Ellis the comedian as “Mr Grab”.Lena Grant was the Principal Boy.
This version toured to Blackpool Hippodrome, Dewsbury, Wigan , Glasgow Metropole. It was to become an annual tour that eventually had 40 people touring, sometimes weekly!
The following year 1924 Gilpin & Bennan’s “Goldilocks” had Maud Hughes as “Colin” , Dorothy Owen as Goldilocks, and Tom Gott as Dame Brisket. Fairy Flautese was played by Elgar Hudson, and the company included the Brothers Dane, Elsie Green, Jack Ford and Jack Herbert.
At the end of the ten week touring season an advert appeared in “Stage” selling the entire production, followed shortly by an advert from Harry Gilpin (1924) stating he had purchased the entire Pantomime from Mr Bennan. He claimed the production made £800 net “last Xmas week”.
He continued to tour “Goldilocks , beginning at Oldham Grand, taking in Salford, Blackpool and Aberdeen on the season. Maud Hughes sang “Annie” and “In The Eyes Of The World” to standing ovations.
In 1924 Stage featured an article promoting Summer Pantomimes. “There is no reason why Pantomime should be an exclusive Winter Entertainment. For many years Belfast and York have had an Easter Pantomime..”
Harry Gilpin’s 1924-25 tour of Goldilocks took in Gloucester, Warrington, and the Royal Bolton and the Accrington Hippodrome. By 1925 his tour takes £1,864 nett for eight days Pantomime in a venue.
In 1925 Sheffield Phoenix presented “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” .
1925 saw the first resident Pantomime of “Goldilocks” since John Hart’s productions at Manchester, Leeds and Bristol had been performed.
The Moss Empire house Kings Theatre Edinburgh produced “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” which played to capacity until February 6th 1926. Harry Roxbury produced the pantomime.
Moss Empires said it would be “departing from the usual sterotyped subjects”, and the 19th Pantomime at the King’s opened to a great reception
.The Panto featured Tom. D Newell as Dame Diddledum, with Eve Lyn as Principal Boy, Tom Cable as Sandy, Prue Temple in the role of Goldilocks, and Frances Donking as The Fairy Queen.Victor Crawford played Baron and Norman Bowyer was The Count. The management employed a notable Opera artiste called Herbert Langley to play “Mysterioso”.
Fast forward to the current Crossroads Pantomime “Goldilocks” and there is a character of that name- co-incidence perhaps, or historical research- the name is there 97 years later!
Popular hit songs from this Panto included “There are no flies on Auntie” and “Why aren’t yez eating more oranges?”
Crook Royal Theatre presented a version of “Goldilocks”in 1926. Presented by Leon Dodd it boasted ten scenes, and featured Bunty Gordon as Goldilocks with Jennie Collins as The Prince Of Pleasureland. The Tyneside comedian Tommy Gibson also appeared. The production toured and announced that during February 1927 it played to 3,316 paid customers on one Saturday at Chester-Le-Street!
In February 1926 , based on the enormous success of the King’s Edinburgh “Goldilocks”, Moss Empires decided that this subject would open at The Theatre Royal Nottingham at Christmas.
125,000 people had enjoyed Goldilocks, and when it opened Nora Bancroft was Principal Boy, with Douglas Byng as Dame. Frances Dorking reprised her role as Fairy Queen, with Betty Eley as Principal girl and Alme Valdor as second girl. Her hit number was “The Ukelele Dream Man”.
The Comic, Al Marice played Goosey Fair, with Harry Ennor as Demon King and Victor Crawford reprising The Baron.
It ran for six weeks and closed on Feb 5th 1927. One of the specialities was by Frank and Albert, Animal Impersonators in a comedy Bullfight sketch. How times have changed!
The Director (as at the King’s the previous year) was Harry Roxbury.
During 1926 the now long running tour of Harry Gilpin’s “Goldilocks” continued to travel the country, along with his 40 artistes.Dorothy Owen was still appearing as was Ivy Lynn as “Boy” and Fred Morrisey as Dame.
The scenes in this panto were revealed in a review, and give very little insight into the shape of the plot. They included :
Billy’s Toy Fort, The Rose Ballet, The Home Of The Bears , On The Nile, and The Grand Palace.
Five years on from the first “Goldilocks” production, The Stage Newspaper published Pantomime Statistics. During the Christmas of 1926 the Stage listed 120 Pantomimes. The top popular subjects around the country were:
CINDERELLA 19 pantos
DICK WHITTINGTON 14 Pantos
ROBINSON CRUSOE 12 Pantos
BABES IN THE WOOD 11 Pantos
ALADDIN: 10 Pantos.
In London and Greater London there were Eight varieties of subjects on sale. Stage revealed in 1903 there were 33 Pantomimes in London, by 1922 there were 20. And by 1926 only 13.
This made up Three Robinson Crusoes, Two Mother Goose Pantos, Two Cinderellas and Two Aladdin pantomimes, one being at The London Palladium.
Goldilocks it said was “To The Fore” in NEW Pantomime subjects, with three provincial Pantomimes in 1926- Coventry, Barnsley Royal and Nottingham Theatre Royal.
The Coventry Panto was the long running lengthy touring version by Harry Gilpin.
Harry Gilpin’s touring “Goldilocks was at Crewe, as part of its tour. The Principal Boy character Colin is revealed in a review as “A Wandering Show Man”- the first indication of a possible early Circus theme? The Character of Grab, Dame Brisket remained the same, and the Three Bears were played frequently by Little Watts (Baby Bear), F.Leylere (Father Bear) and A.Dane (possibly wife of one of the Dane Brothers in the show) as “Mother Bear”.
That same year- 1927- Stage ran an advert – “Will Dalton looks for producer- one preferably who knows the subject- for a production of “Goldilocks”, along with A Dame and a Comedy dancing speciality act to “combine” the Three Bears.
Dalton & Robson take out a touring “Goldilocks” pantomime in 1927. It seemed to include the Robin Hood story. It boasted twelve scenes including The Village Green, The Fairies Enchanted Glen, The Barons Garden and The Palace. The characters rather confusingly included Maid Marion and Will Scarlet, with Peggy Mackintosh as Robin (Hood?) . The Three Bears were played by The Vardel Trio of Acrobats. Jimmie Pullen played The Dame.
In 1928 there were still only three touring Productions of Goldilocks in the country.
Four productions of “Goldilocks & The Three Bears”. in the UK
For the first time a resident major Pantomime house presented “Goldilocks and The Three Bears”, presented by the future King of Pantomime, Julian Wylie. His brother Lauri (later known for writing “Dinner for one” a cult hit in Germany) co wrote the musical score.
The Royal, Birmingham decided not to present “Mother Goose”, but to stage this fairly new subject, “Goldilocks”
Elsie Prince was Principal Boy,, Felice Lascelles was Goldilocks, With Jack Morrison as Dame Diddlem.
The name BETTY JUMEL appears in this production. She played Mavis. Betty was a diminutive fire cracker of a performer, who found fame in variety and radio, appearing in the 30’s & ‘40’s with Norman Evans in Humpty Dumpty.
The cast also included Harry Angers, as Handy Andy, Roy Barbour (of the Barbour dynasty- stilt walkers, puppeteers) as Count Wankipof and featured Bert Escott.
The Pantomime ran at Birmingham for eight weeks.
Continuing to tour in 1929-30 for 14 weeks was the Leon Dodd “Goldilocks” featuring Betty Stuart as Principal Boy, Betty Gordon as Goldilocks and Leon Dodd himself as one of the “Robbers”. The scenes described included The Ogre’s Cave, The Bear’s Lair, The Peasants meeting place, The Enchanted Garden and Father Christmas Land, a transformation from the Bear’s Hut.
Harry Gilpin’s touring “Goldilocks” was now on its seventh year with Dorothy Owen again as Goldilocks and with Gertrude Vernon as Colin. Fred Godfrey played Dame Brisket.
The innovation for 1929-30 was the inclusion of Three LIVE Bears to Robson & Palings long running tour of “Goldilocks. Laurie Wedburn as Goldilocks, Eve Linacre as Principal Boy and comedians Eddie Walker, Tom Hulme and Frank Bass.
The resident Pantomime version of “Goldilocks” was staged in the Howard & Wyndam Glasgow Royal in 1929. Howard & Wyndham became the only major producing company to present “Goldilocks” as a resident pantomime in their key theatres throughout the 1930’s into the 1940’s
Stewart Cruickshank presented Alma Barnes as Roland, the Principal Boy, Babbette O’Deal as Goldilocks, Tommy Lorne as Dame Diddledum, with other characters including Mysterioso, Sir Gorbals Cross, Fairy Benevolentia and the Tiller Girls.
This story has the villain kidnapping Goldilocks and wants to marry her. The Fairy enables Prince Roland to free her and all ends happily ever after.
“The Palace of Porcelain, with its rich blend of colouring, and its procession of beautifully dressed girls are in excellent taste”. (The Stage).
The Pantomime season of 1930-31 had four productions of “Goldilocks”. The Glasgow Royal, The Leon Dodd touring production, The Robson & Paling Tour, which began at The Chelsea Palace, and Harry Gilpin’s long running production, now on its eighth year.
In 1931-32 there was no resident production, but the same touring productions, and in 1932-1933 Leon Dodd’s tour took in Gateshead, South Shields and The Sunderland “Avenue”. It played to 5,500 customers on one Saturday for Moss Empires.
In 1935 The Howard & Wyndham production of “Goldilocks” opened at The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh. Harry Roxbury once again producing, it featured Margery Wyn as Valentine, Renee Foster as Goldilocks, Jack Hayes as Dame and Phil Strickland as “Whiffles”.
Scenes included The Magic Pool (possibly a Curries Water effect), The Alpine Forest, Shoeland and a flying ballet. It played to capacity houses throughout.
The Circus element makes a small appearance in this version with the inclusion of Shaw & Weston playing “Trunks” and “Tricks”, two travelling showmen.
The other productions that year were Bert Loman’s tour and Leon Dodd’s tour. Only three “Goldilocks” pantomimes that season.
The Howard & Wyndham “Goldilocks” transferred to Theatre Royal, Newcastle Upon Tyne for eight weeks. Margery Wyn played Lancelot, Principal Boy, With Jack Hayes as Dame Delphinium. Shaw & Weston played the Travelling Showmen with the Three Hiltons Acrobatic speciality. The Squire’s name in this production was Sir Rich Doolittle.
That same year saw the regular tours of Leon Dodd, featuring a female Dame- Flo Fellows “Lancashire’s Comedy Queen” and the Goldilocks tour of Bert Loman.
Bert Loman’s tour opened at the New Hippodrome, Manchester, again with a female Dame- Carrie Cole, and Felice Napier as Principal Boy. The comic in this version was now “Simple Simon”.
Leon Dodd continued his Goldilocks tour for the season, and The Palace Theatre Guernsey produced “Goldilocks” for the first time.
Joining the Bert Loman tours and the Leon Dodd Tours of “Goldilocks” , Will A Jackson presented a touring version with Beryl Leslie, Bobbie Bevens and Iris Boyers.
Leon Dodd himself played Dame in his tour, and Bert Loman’s Dame was once again Flo Fellows as “Dame Dumpling”- “A Buxom figure and Yorkshire accent”.
1939-1940 ENTERING THE SECOND WORLD WAR
During the war years mostly “Goldilocks featured as an infrequent touring pantomime. It would open in a theatre for two weeks or so, then tour (not easy during wartime restrictions) for a further six weeks.
One interesting thing to note is the name of the theatres the Goldilocks productions opened in, or toured to. All long gone.Generally now car parks and shopping malls and bus stations occupy the sites of these extravagantly named local palaces of pleasure.
During these uncertain times for Theatres, Howard & Wyndham presented their “Goldilocks” at the Glasgow Royal, with Dave Willis, Elizabeth French, Florence Hunter and the Comedy Duo who became among the top variety and early television stars, Jimmy Jewell & Ben Warris. The cast included Cliff Harley, Trudi Binar, Jean Inglis and the speciality The John Silver Trio.
Will Jackson presented his touring version, opening at the Royal, Rochdale- the Dame in this was called Dame Martha, with a comedy duo named “Tripp & Trott”.
Bert Loman’s tour opened at the Derby Grand Theatre, with Eddie Kayne as “Dame Dumpling”, and Leon Dodd continued to play Dame Dumpling in his tour of “Goldilocks” for eight weeks.
There was no Resident production. The Touring pantomimes continued into the War Years. Bert Loman’s “Goldilocks” still hadn’t settled on a regular name for the Principal boy. This time Biddy Brewin played “Ronaldo”. The speciality was “Calvin’s Canine Comedians”!
The Baron was Baron Hardbake, and a young actor called Arthur Leslie played the hunchback “Grab”- later he was to find fame in the new Television soap “Coronation Street” as the landlord of the Rover’s Return- as Jack Walker, husband of Annie Walker!
The tour began with two weeks at the Hulme Hippodrome.
The Bert Loman Pantomime “Goldilocks” played the Majestic Macclesfield. The opening date was listed as December 25th. By now no other productions of Goldilocks were evident, and touring became more arduous with wartime restrictions. The following year, 1942-43 The Stage has no references to any production of “Goldilocks”.
A return to the Howard & Wyndham production of “Goldilocks”, this year returning to the Kings, Edinburgh, the Head Quarters of the H&W Empire.
Adele Dixon starred as The Prince, with Jackie Hunter as Whiffles. Jack Hayes once again played Dame with Mary Naylor as Goldilocks. The Dance speciality – The Raya Sisters were billed as “Late of the Moulin Rouge & The Folies Bergere, Paris”.
“Lavishly spectacular, with a wealth of colour in costume and scenery, a bright and joyous affair”
The Pantomime put in a short “Harlequinade” sequence- Clown, Columbine and Harlequin” in the Palace scene.
That year Bert Loman’s touring “Goldilocks” opened at the Hanley Theatre Royal, and a new tour also went out under the management of Ernest Binns. Three productions in total;.
Howard & Wyndham’s “Goldilocks” transferred to The Theatre Royal Newcastle starring Jewel & Warris, now popular on radio and in variety. The Dame was once again Jack Hayes, and the Pantomime featured The Dolinoffs, and George & Jack D’Ormunde.
Frank Fortesque’s Touring panto Opened at the Royal Rochdale, then a six week tour.
Bert Loman’s “Goldilocks” opened at the Preston Hippodrome.
Ernest Binn’s tour opened at The Royal, Oldham
Four Productions in total in 1944.
There were six productions of “Goldilocks” in 1945.
The resident Panto was at The Liverpool Royal Court,for Howard & Wyndham, starring the famous tenor Joseph Locke as “The Wild Man of the Woods”. A fascinating career, and well worth googling his story, the basis of the film “Hear My Song”-(1991) The song he was to make famous the following year.
The Liverpool Goldilocks featured Dave Morris, with Betty Shaw as Dame, Eddie Henderson and George and Jack D’Ormonde.
The Stage Review of Liverpool said:
“The story is rediscovered by John Roker, and has been used to give a fresh treatment to Howard & Wyndham’s Pantomime. A one hundred year old bill from Her Majesty’s London gave him a clue to an original story of 700 years ago. “
The review continued : “The Village school room scene with Dave Morris as Whiffles, the village simpleton, and Eddie Henderson as Schoolmistress Sylvia is a delightful dignified impersonation of a Pantomime Dame. .. Amusing jibes at the government departments..”
The D’ormonde brothers playing “sack and Bustin, travelling showmen showed off their trick cycling skills. Josef Locke sang “Invictus” and duetted with the Principal Boy.
The other five Pantomimes were all touring, the regular producers – Fortesque, Binns, Leon Dodd and Bert Loman now joined by T.F Connery ‘s touring version.
This year there were the regular touring versions of “Goldilocks. Four productions in total.
Again this season there were four touring versions of “Goldilocks” around the country.
Bernard Delfont Ltd presented “Goldilocks” at the Swindon Empire, a production that starred Fred Gwyn as Dame, Ernie Leno and Eugene’s Flying Ballet. The specialities were Michelle and Arnova and the Twelve Westway Girls. This was not a Howard & Wyndham production, and a new production .
In addition The Tours of Bert Loman began at The Theatre Royal Hanley, Jack Gillam’s production opened at The Grand Theatre, Bolton, and Binn’s touring version opened at Ashton – close to Hanley, and Fortesque’s tour opened at Crewe.
The Grand Bolton touring panto had Rita Hunter as Robin (Principal Boy), Wendy Mcarthy as Goldilocks, The Three Bears were Fuzzy, Muzzy and Wuzzy, with Grab & Much as showmen, Baron Hardlot, and included characters Miss Muffett, Jack Horner, Dame Dumpling and Fairy Moonlight.
In 1949 the Stage Newspaper revealed a “top of the charts” list of the most popular main pantomimes in the United Kingdom. During this season the list ran:
24 Productions of “Dick Whittington”
22 Productions of “Cinderella”
17 Productions of “Babes In The Wood” & “Aladdin”, with a similar number for “Jack & The Beanstalk”, “Red Riding Hood”, “Robinson Crusoe”.
Goldilocks in 1949-1950 had 10 productions. The most this pantomime had ever had in one season.
Another new trend seemed to be emerging- one that we would not contemplate in this day and age- the introduction of “Live Bears” from Circus into some of the pantomimes. Mostly the roles were performed by actors and in many cases acrobats, but in a few cases there were live bears introduced.
That era seems a long time ago, but I recall seeing a production of “Goldilocks” in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s at The Theatre Royal, Hanley, with three bears briefly appearing. Along with “Siberian Tigers”. Chipperfields were involved in some productions of “Goldilocks”, and my friend Laura Nayman performed in the title role with live bears, later she became one of the first Ring mistresses for Chipperfields Circus.
Among the ten pantomimes produced in 1949 many were still touring productions- Bert Loman’s tour continued opening at The Tivoli Hull (now the site of a cake shop and café almost opposite the Royal Hotel) featuring Hans Brick’s Teddy Bears and Clown Hobbs and his performing dogs. The Circus theme to Goldilocks was in its infancy, but beginning to become interwoven with the plot.
Hinge Productions staged “Goldilocks” at the Byker Grand Theatre for a month, before touring. It featured Clown Characters “Flip & Flop” and the speciality by Jerry Builders.
Leon Dodd’s tours began at Bury, and the York Empire featured a Jack Gillam touring panto (previously at Bolton last season) with a speciality by Roy Castle. Frank Desmond featured alongside Tony Lester as Dame.
The Fortesque Tour began at The Royal, Stockport.
London saw “Goldilocks” open at The Brixton Express with Lucy Loup as Goldilocks, George Williams as Whiffles (an early appearance of the popular comic- catchphrase “I’ve not been well”, featuring live bears (Gulden’s three performing bears) and the Peggy O’Farrel Tiny Tappas.
Another production opened in Southsea. (Possibly at the King’s Theatre).
Live Bears again featured in the Newcastle Palace “Goldilocks” and at the Grand Theatre Southampton production.
Newcastle Palace featured The Karloff’s, an acrobat speciality, and also another “acro Spesh” in Babbette & Raoul. Beam’s Bonnie Babies performed alongside Berts Live Bears.
The hero in this pantomime was still a Prince.
The Grand Southampton Panto featured live bears, and the Lennox Three, with Harry Neal as chief comic.
The Binn’s tour began at The New Theatre, Crewe, with character names still Prince Lancelot, Dame Durden, Trip & Trop, The comic’s character still “Whiffles”.
Bert Loman opened his tour at The Liverpool Shakespeare Theatre for three weeks. His comic character was “Simple Simon”, played by Charlie Parsons.
The Alma, Luton had “Goldilocks” with Tony Lester.
London saw Goldilocks open at the Camberwell Palace, a Shenburn production. It was produced by Conrad Vince who also appeared as the Villain. It featured Walters Comedy Dogs, with Hal Blue as Mrs Tippett, Brena Gay as Principal Boy, and among the characters were a Mayor and a Captain Bullet.
About seven productions of “Goldilocks” this year, mostly the touring pantos
The Cambridge New had Lionel Edward’s production of “Goldilocks” “In a plot which has the fairy story as a basis, but takes liberties with detail, spinning out the tale to the required length” Something we’ve all participated in panto since the beginnings I believe!
This production featured live Bears.
Several of the regular touring versions of “Goldilocks” Leon Dodd, Ernest Binns and now Charles Denville presented the subject in The New, Cambridge, Kings Lynn Royal, Bedford Royal Country and Kiddiminster. No major residential panto this year. Hackney Empire received one of the weekly tours with Vogelbeins live bears and as Dame comedian Archie Glen as Mrs Tickle.
The Dodds, Loman and Gillam tours continued in weekly venues around the UK.
In Bath Frank Maddox presented Jimmy Mac, Moyna Cope and Trevor Moreton as Dame in “Goldilocks” .( I was fortunate to see Trevor’s Dame in the 1970’s).
At Norwich Hippodrome “Goldilocks” was presented on ice for five weeks, with three perfomances a day.
Tunbridge Wells presented Al Heath’s “Goldilocks. The character names and plot had yet to settle down. In this show the Dame is Dame Trott (Harry Tracy), The Principal Boy is Robin, with characters named The Earl of Manchester, The Fairy Queen, The Wicked Baron and Simple Simon. It featured Christina Glanville and her puppets.
In 1953 the Grand Swansea presented a Mannie Jay/Cyril Dowler “Goldilocks”. The three bears were Hans Petersens Three Performing Bears. Cyril Dowler played Simple Simon, and his wife Rhoda Rogers played Goldilocks. Marcia Owen was Principal Boy. (Colin). The female Dame was Hilda Heath, and featured Charlie Bale, and the panto included a trapeze and acrobatic act,The Flying Renos, and the 16 Singing Songsters- The Welsh Boys Choir. The Juveniles were from the Raie Hedges Tots. Raie became an institution in Swansea- she put juveniles into pantomimes at The Empire Theatre as well as at the Grand Theatre, and ran a dancing school for many years, her name then was Raie Copp. In the 1950’s my Mother, Dorothy helped to chaperone the children at the Empire Theatre, which was close to the family shop . My brother Vivyan was taught tap by Raie, and in the 1970’s she helped me with routines I could use in Summer Season. An amazing lady!
1954-56 GOLDILOCKS COMES OF AGE!
1n 1954 Howard & Wyndham presented “Goldilocks” at The Alhambra Glasgow.
Directed by Freddie Carpenter it starred Duncan Macrae as Dame and Betty Shaw as Goldilocks.
The Loman,and Forescue tours continued, while at The Southport Scala there was a rep Panto which has in the programme a Jean Alexander playing one of the three bears. The same Jean Alexander who was later to walk the cobbles of Coronation Street as Hilda Ogden.
In 1955 The Howard & Wyndham Pantomime “Goldilocks” transferred to The King’s Edinburgh. Jimmy Logan starred as “Sausage”, with Rikki Fulton in his first Dame role.
Rikki Fulton received some harsh revues from the critics, especially in one Scottish Sunday Newspaper. He went to print with his reply “Go jump in a lake!”
Directed by Freddie Carpenter the Pantomime featured Aberdeen’s Betty Shaw as Goldilocks, and Carol Eric. It featured the popular Australian act, The Six Flying De Pauls.
The 1955 Howard & Wyndham production was one of the first pantomimes to bring together all the circus elements and the storyline that we think of as “Goldilocks & The Three Bears” today.
The story featured Goldilocks as the daughter of the Dame- Meg Gemmell of Gemmell’s Circus. Rikki Fulton played Meg.
1956-1957- NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL Howard & Wyndham “Goldilocks”
The author of the H&W Pantomime was DAVID CROFT (later to write and produce TV comedy series such as “Dad’s Army”, “Are You Being Served?”, “It ‘aint half Hot Mum”, “Hi De Hi” and many more).
“A circus story of considerable invention and charm, in which Goldilocks’s Mother owns a circus, and is desperate for a new act to boost its flagging fortunes”
This version is the forerunner for the versions that were to follow. In it Jack Tripp (later to be known as one of the great Panto Dames) played Jimmy the comic, and showed off his dance and comedy skills in a cod ballet routine.
The setting was Tyrolean. Heinkel was the name of the evil rival circus owner, Meg Gemmell was played by Tony Heaton
“not only does he have to make us laugh, but he has to act out two strongly dramatic situations as if taking part at The Old Vic”
Elizabeth French was Principal Boy, with the fifdteen year old Pat Laurence as Goldilocks.
The scenes included a Magic Fountain in The Ice Mountains, and ever the home of novelty, the panto introduced “Rock & Roll” to the audience, thanks to Freddie Carpenter, Director.
THE POP STAR INFLUENCE
Howard & Wyndham presented “Goldilocks” at The Liverpool Royal Court. Freddie Carpenter had introduced “Rock & Roll” into the previous year’s panto, and now presented the 21 year old Pop Star Tommy Steele to Goldilocks. The reaction from his fans on opening night was “noisy Enthusiasm”, and the “Stage” reported Tommy Steele stepped out of character telling them “You are spoiling the show. Keep quiet!” They reported “His words had the right effect!”
The pantomime did capacity business. It featured Rikki Fulton, Ann Howard, Patricia Laurence, and the young Petra Siniavski (later to star in “A Chorus Line”) in addition to the George Mitchell Singers.
Tommy was described as “not only a “pop” star, but a showman to his fingertips”
The Panto was up against another chart sensation Ruby Murray at The Empire, with Jewel & Warris.
Panto stalwart Clarkson Rose wrote an article , tongue in cheek about “the death of pantomime”, saying “Pantomime has had the cheek to emerge with the times and inveigle into its fold not only many of the old stalwarts of its tradition, but the mercurial Tommy Steele, up against such great pantomimists as Jewell & Warris”
The stalwarts of Edwardian Pantomime Dorothy Ward and husband Shaun Glenville were at the Pavilion Theatre in panto that year. Goldilocks had brought pop to Panto, and it was there to stay!
That year the Glasgow Pavilion presented “Goldilocks”. Jack Milroy and Robert Wilson (and his White Heather Group) starred, and The Patton Brothers (Jimmy and Brian) “get a spot for their eccentric tap dancing and prove especially popular with the children” (Stage 1957).
There were still touring versions of Goldilocks around the UK- Cyril Dowler, Gillam and several other.
The Freddie Carpenter choice of Tommy Steele was a stepping stone to the West End- The following year he was to star in Carpenter’s version of Rogers & Hammersteins’s Cinderella” at the London Coliseum as Buttons.
The era of the chart topping singers in pantomime continues:
Howard & Wyndham’s production of Goldilocks was co-presented at Blackpool Winter Gardens by London Theatre Productions and Teneb Productions. It starred George Martin as The Odd Job Man, and Betty Jumel as Meg the Circus owner. Stewart Cruikshank supervised this unusual co-production and venue.
Meanwhile John Beaumont presented singing star Ronnie Caroll and Peter Butterworth at The Sheffield Lyceum’s “Goldilocks”.
York Repertory’s pantomime “Goldilocks” featured resident actors Trevor Bannister as Demon (Trevor was to star in “Are You Being Served” and played Dame frequently) and Once again Jean Alexander (“Coronation Street’s Hilda Ogden) as Fairy.
The Sheffield “Goldilocks” transferred to Leeds Grand with chart topper Ronnie Hilton, in his hometown) and Peter Butterworth as Dame with Joe Black. The Speciality act “The Falcons”, Eddie & Eileen appeared alongside the Hassani Circus Troupe, and the children were presented by Jean Pearce (Billy Pearce’s Mother). A name that appears in this show is familiar to Panto enthusiasts- Peter John, later to become a prolific Panto Dame and director.
The Connaught Worthing featured another chart topping singer, Alma Cogan in her hometown. Joe Church appeared alongside George Bolton as Dame. The young Goldilocks was twenty year old Helen Cotterill, now famed for her extensive career in Soaps, Comedies and classics on tour with Sir Ian McKellen.
The Swinging Sixties!
Howard & Wyndham continued to be the main champions of “Goldilocks”.
The Leeds Grand Panto transferred to Newcastle Empire with the same cast of Ronnie Hilton, Peter Butterworth (later of Carry On Fame) and The Falcons. “Brilliantly timed slapstick comedy act which hit the laughter jackpot with resounding success” (The Stage). I was fortunate to see Eddie & Eileen in panto at Swansea Grand in my youth. They were livewires of comedy!
1961 Howard & Wyndham open “Goldilocks” at The King’s Edinburgh with Larry Marshall (star of Scottish Televisions “One O’Clock Gang” and Una McLean as Meg the Circus Owner. Sally Logan played Goldilocks and Eileen Keegan was Principal Boy.The panto featured a bar swinging and contortion act “The Three Merkys”. Donald Peers , popular singer featured.
That same year veteran radio star Sandy Powell (catchphrase known to millions- “Can you hear me, Mother?) starred as Dame with Jimmy Mac as second comic in “Goldilocks”at The Theatre Royal Bath for Frank Maddox.
Bryan Burdon, son of veteran Panto star Albert Burdon toured in the Cyril Dowler “Goldilocks” featuring Franz Kreft’s Three Live Bears.
1962 saw Goldilocks transferring to the Oxford New, with Harry Worth & Peter Butterworth (as Rose Ringler). Harry Worth playing Professor Ringler, and Joe Black as the Circus handyman.
That year the most popular panto titles were (in order) Cinderella, Dick Whittington followed by Aladdin, Babes In The Wood, Mother Goose, Puss In Boots and Robinson Crusoe. There were 14 different subjects that season. The trend for the Male Pop Singer continued as Principal Boy. Growing up at Swansea Grand I saw the likes of Marty Wilde, Johnny De Little and other pop singers replacing the female Principal Boys, before the trend reversed, and along came the likes of Helen Shapiro, Susan Maughan and Cilla Black.
1963 Howard & Wyndham presented Goldilocks at Sheffield Lyceum with singing star David Whitfield (his statue faces the New Theatre Hull today) alongside impressionist Peter Goodwright and the Sahara Troupe. The panto ran through to March.
The Stage reviewer mourned the decline of the female “Boy”..
“No mere mortal, not even David Whitfield, can compensate for a striding purposeful buoyant Principal Boy giving that vital spark of real magic. Even so, he captivates young and old”
Goldilocks followed the next year at The Gaiety Dublin, with Olga Antonuchi and her performing chihuhuas- a nightmare for the printers I’d imagine!
Tom Arnold took the Sheffield Goldilocks to Leeds Grand (1964) with the same cast- this time the Charifien Troupe of acrobats appeared.
In 1965 Glasgow Alhambra welcomed the David Croft version of Goldilocks (Howard & Wyndham) directed again by Freddie Carpenter, starring Andy Stewart and Johnnie Beaattie as Dame, alongside the popular “Three Monarchs”. The Dancers were from Norman Maen.
In Worthing Joyce Blair (Lionel’s sister) starred as Goldilocks with Donald Peers and veteran George Bolton as Dame.
The following year (1966) Howard & Wyndham transferred to the King’s Edinburgh with Jimmy Logan starring. The stage reported “The three bears succeed in saving Meg’s Circus from failure”
1967- The Sunderland Empire produced its own version of “Goldilocks” in a brand new pantomime. It starred Peter Goodwright and Len Howe played Tilly Tart the Circus owner. It ran just over three hours. The Panto featured a real circus- “Captain Bailey Fossett’s All Star Circus”.
1968 Paul Elliott, a budding Pantomime producer presented the Howard & Wyndham production of “Goldilocks” at Hull New Theatre. It starred local chart topping star Ronnie Hilton and veteran Dame George Lacy. The Panto featured Jan Hunt as Goldilocks.Jan had recently been in the West End in “Come Spy With Me” with Danny La Rue. Fifty- four years on from “Goldilocks at Hull and the fabulous Jan Hunt is currently playing Empress in “Aladdin” in Panto at Esher! (2022)
This show began Paul Elliott’s reign as Panto King with his company later to be named “E&B” (Elliott & Byrne).
The panto featured Ray Chiarella, and La Paloma and Her Pigeons.
In 1969 “Goldilocks” –The H&W Version- produced by PAUL ELLIOTT & DUNCAN C.WELDON at Norwich. A transfer from Hull the previous year, it once again starred Ronnie Hilton (I was fortunate to do “Cinderella” with Ronnie for Paul Elliott twenty years later at Hull!) and George Lacy.
The show’s villain was Jackie “Mr TV” Pallo, the wrestler, Olivia Breeze, Gwyn (a trapeze artiste), Mike Lewin , and Vincent Worth.
Paul Elliott now takes on the mantle of “Goldilocks” protector from Howard & Wyndham.
Theatre Royal Brighton “Goldilocks” produced by Paul Elliott & Duncan C Weldon presented Dora Bryan as Circus Owner Dora. The Stage: “Cast as a sort of Dame..a bundle of dynamic energy”
Direct from the London Palladium success, Larry Grayson was Ringmaster. “One of the funniest men in the profession”, alongside a favourite comedian of mine (and father of performer Caroline Dennis), Bobby Dennis. “High good humour and geniality, quickly inspires audience participation in the most shy”.
The Cast included “The Man In Black”, Veteran actor Valentine Dyall as Heinkel, Ray Chiarella and Olivia Breeze as Goldilocks.
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