Paul Elliott & Duncan C Weldon -Olivier Special Award

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The Olivier Award for Special Recognition 2018 was awarded to Paul Elliott and Duncan C Weldon, and to “Uncle” Bob west and Meg Johnson.

These four influential and highly respected theatre figures were presented with their awards on Friday 9th March.

Paul Elliott, “King Of Pantomime” – he produced over 487 during his career, founded E&B Productions, which I had the great pleasure of becoming involved with in 1982, when Peter Robbins and I joined the E&B Family for what was to be twenty eight years of Pantomimes as The Ugly Sisters. I have an enormous debt of gratitude to offer him.

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Paul Elliott with Nigel Ellacott, Brian Conley, Michelle Potter, and Peter  Robbins.

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Paul & Linda Elliott. Paul was receiving his Master Of Arts.

Paul has produced Plays and Musicals both in the West End, On Broadway and on International tours, and produced Three Olivier and one Tony Award winning shows.

Paul is about to release his book “Keeping My Balls Up In The Air”, and celebrates Sixty Years in Show Business in June of this year.

Paul and Duncan C Weldon have worked together in Pantomime, and in Plays and Musicals for almost Sixty Years. They have both had an enormous influence in the shape of Pantomimes and London Theatre over these decades.

Duncan C Weldon has brought some of the world’s most prestigious actors to the most prestigious theatres in the world. He has presented 63 plays at The Theatre Royal Haymarket alone!  Triumph Theatre Productions is known worldwide.

“Uncle” Bob West as he is known through The West End of London worked for Cameron Mackintosh for decades. He was a prolific Company Manager and a very lovely man. Bob was best mates with my mate Freddie Lees, and it has always been a joy to meet up with him, and to revel in his encyclopedic knowledge of West End Theatre.Many West End stars today owe their success to Bob West.

Meg Johnson receives her special award for services to theatre since 1958. She has worked in almost every theatre in London’s West End. She has always been there at opening nights over sixty years, and provided jobs to untold numbers of young people who she believed in.

All in all, four VERY special Awards.

 

 

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Pantomania & More Easter Pantos!

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Mr Millerman Presents “Pantomania!” It celebrates 50 years of Telford, and features Phil Butler, Philip Meeks, Ian Billings along with Ben Cupit and Katie Ann Dolling as “Queen Rat”. Enquires to The Oakengates Theatre, Telford.

The Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford is presenting “Wind In The Willows” WITW Flyer Front WITW Flyer Back

The production can be seen from Wednesday 11th- Saturday 14th April, with Marc Seymour as Mr Toad, and features Mathew Burcombe and Steven Day in Alan Bennett’s version of the Tales On The Riverbank by Kenneth Graham.

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Marc has played Dame at the KMT for several years, and was most recently Mrs Starkey in “Peter Pan” at the theatre.

The Kenneth More Theatre has KD Theatre Productions “Wizard Of Oz” visiting for two days on Tuesday3rd and Wednesday 4th April. Performances are 7pm on Tueday and 11am and 3pm on Wednesday. This production is on a UK tour.

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the other tour dates forKD Productions “Wizard Of Oz” are: The Maltings,Ely April 1st-4th and the tour includes visits to Maidstone,( 6th April) Chesham, (7th April) Camberley, (8th April) Bedford, (9th April) Peterborough, (10th April) Grays (12th April) and Redhill.(15th April).

KDTheatre productions and Scott Ritchie productions are presenting a UK Easter tour of Wind in The Willows- Here is a list of tour dates:

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The Wind In The Willows

The Civic Theatre, Chelmsford Friday 30th – Saturday 31st March 2018

The Woodville Theatre, Gravesend Monday 2nd April 2018

The Maltings, Ely Friday 6th -Monday 9th April 2018

Beccles Public Hall, Beccles

Tuesday 10th April 2018

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds Wednesday 11th April 2018

The Arts Centre, Haverhill

Friday 13th April 2018

Blackfriars Theatre, Boston

Saturday 14th April 2018

The Princess Theatre, Hunstanton

Sunday 15th April 2018

Red Riding Hood

PUMPKIN PANTOS are producing Red Riding Hood at the Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre in Bordon on Friday and Saturday 6th & 7th April.

Here’s a link to their promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-j0Hy4sxxk

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If you go down to the woods today….. At The Phoemix Arts.

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The Theatre Royal St Helens has opened its Easter Pantomime “Cinderella”presented by Regal Entertainments, which runs until Sunday 15th April.

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Image by David Munn Photography.

Lee Latchford Evans plays Prince Charming, with Mark Newell and Si Foster as Ugly Sisters. Cinderella is played by Georgina Parkinson, with Lewis Devine as Buttons and Andrew Geater as Dandini.

 

Easter Pantomimes Preview

Easter Pantomimes are getting more popular each year- especially as Christmas seasons are getting shorter. Gone are the days when The Swansea Grand would open on Boxing Day and Close just after March 1st or longer!

Here are a few Easter Productions and tours to join the previously mentioned  “Alice In Wonderland” from Anton Benson Productions, currently on tour.

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Ashleigh & Sully Now On Tour!

Joe Purdy Productions has two productions on offer for Easter, and one Panto for mid Summer 2018. The first- of the panto offerings  was”RAPUNZEL” at The Albert Halls, Bolton. A “One off Special” three shows in a day.

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George Sampson and Olivia Birchenough joined Tam Ryan, Lee Redwood, Jade Natalie and Yvonne Patterson in this presentation.

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George Sampson & Olivia Birchenough at Bolton.

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The Bolton Cast of “Rapunzel”

Joe Purdy presents “Beauty & The Beast” at The Coronation Halls Ulverston from March 30th to 4th April. Cast as shown below.

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In the Summer Joe Purdey returns to Bolton with “Jack And The Beanstalk” starring Anne Nolan as Fairy. It runs from 27th July to August 12th.

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Touring from March 24th to the 15th April, Enchanted Entertainment presents “Beauty and The Beast” with Bobby Davro and Dani Harmer.

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The tour cast includes Mark James and Andrew Fleming. It plays venues from Carlise to Yeovil, from Dunfermline to Darlington and many stops inbetween. For a full listing of the tour dates take a look at Enchanted’s web site: http://www.enchantedentertainment.co.uk

 

 

Ashleigh In Wonderland!

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Just a couple of weeks after winning Crufts with Sully, Ashleigh Butler is on the road with an Easter Panto- “Alice In Wonderland”.

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Along with Leslie Ash and Dave Benson Phillips, Ashleigh and Sully opened the tour on Friday (March 23rd) and visit a few places around the UK until April 15th in this Panto style production, presented by Anton Benson Productions.

Easter Panto is becoming more popular each year, and productions are opening or in rehearsal this week to provide entertainment for the Easter school holidays.

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I visited Crufts recently, and caught up with Ashleigh, her Mum, Penny and furry friends Sully and Winter. During panto at Wycombe this year Winter was a very tiny eight week old puppy. Not any more. Here is Winter a couple of months on!

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A great picture for Nation Puppy Day!

Here’s Winter and Sully back in January in “Jack & The Beanstalk”.

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Sully was Small agility champion for 2018- a major win for Team Butler. We were there to see him speed through the agility courses before winning the trophy. Here’s Andrew Ryan and myself after the first round with Ashleigh.

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Crufts at the NEC Birmingham 2018

If you want to catch Ashleigh and Sully in action this Easter, the tour dates can be found here: http://www.antonbensonproductions.com

Here’s a flyer with the dates.

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Happy Easter!

A Merton Make-Over!

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A new Dame is launched today- Paul Merton will be Widow Twankey at Wimbledon for Qdos.

I had great fun assisting Paul with his make-up for this photo shoot a few weeks ago, and got the chance to chat panto with someone who has a great love of pantomime and Variety, and its history. It was a fun afternoon!

Paul’s pantomime roots are in Wimbledon.He saw shows there through his childhood and when he first applied to join British Actor’s Equity, he discovered that his name- Paul Martin- was already taken. He chose the name of the area he grew up in.

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He found his love of comedy in The Comedy Store, Soho. In 1982 he started to make regular appearances , and still performs regularly with The Comedy Store Players.

Paul’s Television and radio career has spanned “Whose Line Is It Anyway”, “Have I Got News For You” (starting in 1990) “Paul Merton- The Series, and Paul Merton in Galton & Simpson performing scripts written originally for Tony Hancock, along with presenting “Room 101”, A South Bank Special and the long running “Just A Minute” radio show.

His fascination with variety and pantomime led him to present the documentary “Paul Merton’s Palladium Story”.

Paul is no stranger to Pantomime on Television. He has starred in four of them:

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In 1998 Paul appeared in ITV’s “Jack and The Beanstalk” as The Narrator. This pantomime featured Julie Walters and Julian Clary. Dame Trott was played by Adrian Edmondson.

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In early 2000 Paul appeared as The Spirit Of The Ring opposite Julian Clary as Slave of The Lamp in ITV’s “Aladdin”. Widow Twankey was Coronation Street’s John Savident.

Later in 2000 the ITV pantomime was “Cinderella”- Paul’s first time putting on the make-up and frock of The Ugly Sister opposite Ronnie Corbett. Julian Clary appeared in the  Fairy Godmother role.

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In 2002 Paul Merton Paul appeared in ITV’s Pantomime “Dick Whittington” playing The Captain, with Sarah The Cook played by Richard Wilson.

During our make-up session we had a great chat about the traditions of pantomime- Paul has a great love of things variety and of the history of Pantomime. It was a joy to be a small part of this transformation- launching a new Panto dame in his home theatre!

 

A Few Panto Pics- Nottingham & Ilford

Here are a few more pantomime production picures- From Theatre Royal Nottingham with Sherrie Hewson, Ben Richards, Ben Nickless, Andrew Ryan, Danny Bayne, Naomi Slights and Natalie Spriggs. Directed by Andrew Ryan.

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Here are a few photos from the Pantomime I’ve costumed (with thanks to Theatre Royal Norwich) at The Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford. I look forward to seeing their “Peter Pan” in the second week of January- I worked on the costumes from August and have yet to see them onstage! The panto features Marc Seymour,Simon Ward, Loraine Porter, Rikki Stone, Natalie Cleverley, Charlie Jones, Lori Stansfeld, Tami Stone, Jocelyn Prah, Keith Kelly and Akeem Hyman, directed by Steven Day. Sets lights and sound by Rob Mitchell-Geares, Peter Abery and Dave Palmer.

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The V & A Goes To The Ball!

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Peter Robbins & Nigel Ellacott- The Ballroom Costumes unveiled!

Friday 1st December 2017

A lovely and an emotional evening at The Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington – The costumes I donated to the museum were put on display , and I was very kindly invited to have my photo taken with the costumes and the conservators and curators who made this happen!

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Gesa Werner, Textiles’ Conservator, Catherine Haill, Curator Theatre & Performance Department , Nigel Ellacott, Susana Fajardo, Textiles’ Conservator and  Keith Lodwick, Curator  Theatre & Performance Department .

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The costumes, designs and jewellery are now a part of the archive, with huge credit to Margaret Brice who made these two Ballgowns for Peter and myself. In fact over our thirty year stage partnership Margaret made all our costumes- these ballgowns are the third incarnation over the years.

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Cathy and Nigel

The costumes now reside in the Theatre and performance area of the V&A and will be there, I believe for the best part of a year. Next week we will be joined by Danny La Rue’s Pink “Aladdin” costume, designed by Terry Parsons. Anne Galbraith, Danny’s costumier and long time companion will be there to see his costume installed. Clive Roe is next to Dan- a quartet of Dames in one case!

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A great honour- thanks to Cathy Haill and the V&A conservators and curators, to Margaret Brice and to Paul Elliott of E&B and to all at Qdos for giving us the thirty years of Pantoland as “The Ugly Sisters”.