Archive | December, 2020


22 Dec

At the Garrick Theatre.

There’s no pantomime this year? Oh yes, there is. And not just one.
At the Garrick, there are six pantos for the price of one.
In the past, Pantos have gone for a couple of hours at least, I remember my children sit stolidly on their seats, chewing whatever confectionary you have provided, eschewing the interval toilets and all in their excitement to finish the story.
Here we have six or seven stories all in the space of seventy minutes with all the necessary noisy elements plus a few extra.
How can this be done? Are Jeff and Dan in league with the devil?
Well perhaps, providing it is a pantomimic one. This witty couple has been doing this job for several years now and they have got it pretty well tied up.
Oh yes, they have.
Dan is the tall one who has a yen to be a principal boy – preferably in The Christmas Carol – a daft idea as it isn’t a pantomime. Jeff tries desperately to make sense of it all – with very little success.
The whole is a rip-roaring hilarious seventy-minutes of fun.
We start with Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a story about a heroic Principal Boy with other typical Panto persons including the Dame – Jack’s mother, Jill – the Principal Girl, The Giant and his creepy Servant, and a Beanstalk. But the essential character of all is Daisy, the cow who is sold for a bag of beans, needing two actors in a cowskin This is a cast of at least seven characters, not counting extra singers, dancers etc.
But we only have two actors and one of them has to play Jack otherwise the story of Jack and the Beanstalk would make little sense, instead we have Jack and half a cow. Daniel wears the bottom half of a cowskin with a removable belt of udders.
Whittington comes next and much is made of the fact that Dick becomes Lord Major of London. To this end, Jeff dons a blond wig and gives us his accurate but very funny version of Boris Johnson, the mayor, dealing with a plague of rats using an outdated track and trace system.
Whittington is rapidly followed by Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, SnowWhite and Aladdin, with a little bit of Christmas Carol thrown in.
The dialogue and performances are witty enough to please the adults – Cinderella is full of references to the Prince’s balls.
Snow White’s seven dwarfs are represented by a lifesize cardboard cutout. They are quickly sent offstage for breaking the ‘six only rule’. Cinders’ Ugly sisters are played by Dan in a two-headed ballgown with added ventriloquism.
This is the perfect and short entertainment using the Covid rules, The theatre has been set out apportioning rows with enough empty seats to solve the distancing problems. It is cleverly done, so the theatre doesn’t seem to be empty
I would recommend this show to grown-ups and children everywhere. There are so many chances to shout out “He’s behind you” and “Oh no there isn’t”
But the most exciting bit is the chase in Cinderellas coach, here we all have to stand up and gallop through the story. It manages to use up a lot of energy and gives you a good workout.
This is the thing boys and girls of all ages. The Potted Panto is the six and a half pantos you need to see.
Duration of the show — seventy minutes
Age recommended 6+
Tickets from £20
Family ticket £70 for four
Box Office 0330 333 4811
Streamprice £15 plus £3 fee

Sadly, the live performances of the West End season of the Olivier nominated Potted Panto have been suspended until 9th January 2021 and will then run until 24th January
Good news for them and all of you who have missed Panto this Christmas. Due to the enormous response to the Christmas season. They are to return to the East End for Easter.
It is an old tradition for Pantos to run from Christmas to Easter. Like old times Except for the pandemic closing them in the middle.
The Potted Panto will be at the Garrick Theatre from the 1 – 18 April 2021 to cover the 26 shows cancelled because of Covid 19
Current bookings for the cancellations may be refunded, or transferred to the Easter dates


21 Dec



JOHN SAVOURNIN in one of the tallest actors in the business and sometimes he plays pantomime Dame. But why on earth did he decide to portray Snow White. His costume, designed by Holly Piggott from Walt Disney is like the one that Snow White wears in the popular film. This is a different story with the occasional odd hint of the original. So, is Savournin totally insane? No, he is totally humorous and is extraordinarily funny towering over the rest of the company in his pretty little Snow White frock. This story has give work to a couple of singing young women to play the two principal boys. Emily Cairns as the handsome Prince Larry and the Dandini character (quietly nicked from Cinderella story but is now named Harry so that they can do rhyming jokes throughout) is played by Meriel Cunningham. It isn’t all that much of a surprise that he turns into a frog halfway through. Oops spoiler warning! Jenny Jacobs is very beautiful and evil as the wicked Queen who relies on her mirror to supply the flattery she needs.. The mirror is played voice only by Mark Gattiss, Ian Hallard and Marcus Fraser. I don’t know whether it is all at once, or one at a time, but tis not mine to wonder why and they didn’t hand out any information on that point. In order to keep the production correctly socially distanced that is the cast in its entirety.

The Charles Court pantomime usually takes place at the King’s Head, but of course like all theatres the King’s Head has been closed, so here is a Charles Court boutique pantomime which has to be watched online. I suggest that you invite a friend or two – however you are allowed to have- because there is a lot of possible audience participation which doesn’t work all that well if you are watching it alone. There are written orders to shout throughout things like “He’s Behind you” and “oh no he isn’t” without which there can be no panto at all. So join up with your bubble – have a glass of something fizzy and laugh and shout your hearts away. It is difficult to plan ahead as we cannot tell from one day to the next what will be allowed to do.

But we mustn’t start on that. it sounds like politics.

It is an extraordinary take on the old story. John Savournin and David Eastern have devised, written and musicalised the production in their usual brilliant fashion and of course the cast sing like angels whenever singing is required – they don’t just spend their whole time acting daft. The play is full of Panto gags and has some of the beautiful songs for which the company is famous.

The set designer is George Johnson-Leigh. One of the useful things about work online is that the set designer can go to town on the sets as they don’t have to be all in the same place at the same time.. Ben Peckergill is the lighting man, and choreography is by David Hulston. John Savournin directs.

The Charles Court Opera is one of the leading companies providing Chamber operas and music theatre. It is their 14th annual pantomime and the 6th with the Kings Head Theatre. The Company are also famed for their productions of Gilbert and Sullivan in small spaces. Their HMS Pinafore had won them an offie for their production. and they recently produced a new and rather startling production of the Mikado which I think is one of the most successful versions of that favourite operetta. Nevertheless, they also concentrate on new work and perform it at various venues, pub theatres to concert halls.

The producers are aware of all the members of the profession who are not able to work this year and a share of the profits will be donated to the Theatre Artist Fund. A fund that has proved a lifwe saver for money during this terrible period.

It is available to stream from MOnday 14th December until Thursday 31st December.

Duration is 60 minutes

musing (not amusing)

7 Dec

Answering Kate Berwick’s post. I love this. I would love to be a painter and it’s true. Items and expressive details come and go. I have watched a friend paint a perfect nude and then day after day change it slowly into a vile monster. It has created sadness in me, but then I realise how much I edit everything I write. Recently, during the lockdown, I have been doing online conversations with my friend Andrew Eborn and it’s the same thing. We start off talking on. Specific subject and cover so many other details in the hour or so we spend doing it. Life is not just one subject, thank the Lord, but many. I am happy to see that nowadays, people are packing in so many different experiences in life. People who don’t have football matches etc to go to and talk about are forced to find other interests…aren’t they?I want to say It is sometimes difficult to enjoy everything but even if is not wonderful at the time it is still an experience …to be talked about? Life is a gift, we are learning. We should appreciate every minute

Andrew Eborn Show

5 Dec

ANDREW EBORN SHOW ON STELLATV This show has only been on for a week but I think it has great potential.

Of course, the show is only as good as its host and Andrew is one of the best interviewers in the business. He has huge warmth, a ridiculous amount of energy, lively intelligence and a great love of people.

He manages to keep calm and smile whatever happens and laughs a lot at his funniest guest the slightly mad woman Mary Martin. I thought at first, we were going to see Larry Hagman’s mum., but this Mary Martin is voluptuous, dark-haired and Spanish looking and she calls herself a Creative. That’s good, I don’t know how else to describe her. She created right there in the Studio a kind of shawl out of velvet which she carefully measured by stretching it across her majestic boobs. She then produced a length of lacy stuff with fringes and she tacked it onto the velvet, whilst imagining questions coming from an anonymous audience, “You pin it on” (what?) “Oh, you’ll need pins” (why?) “To pin it on.” She went behind a screen and vanished completely, leaving Andrew to fill in with a merry quip, difficult because he was practically on the floor laughing. Anyway, she arrived after a while saying – predictably “Here’s one I made earlier”

Andrew had gathered a selection of varied guests. A man called Jules came on to inform us that somebody called Adolph Hitler had won an election. No surprise to the Mail Readers who had the news on its front page. They discussed TV shows. Dancing on Ice, they mentioned the weather Andrew remarked that it was so cold that Strippers had started describing themselves.

The interesting thing about Andrew’s technique is that he works as if there was an audience there. I really felt he was talking to me. A special technique that is obviously not something shared by all of his guests. I found it very flattering, he’s doing this for me!!!

I missed a lot of the next item which was from Alec Sykes. He was talking about his podcast Stars, Cars and Guitars – he describes it as a sort of Rock and Roll version of “The Last of the Summer Wine”. Sounds like fun. Would like to know how to see it.

Jody Western added a little blondness to the business. I think she must be a Reality TV person. She has her own show called “The Dolls House” She talked about the fame that had brought her trolling people. The ones who follow her about on Facebook and Instagram in order to be unkind. If any of you have it in mind to troll, you will no longer get a result. She will just block you and then relax and listen to beautiful music.

Jane Balbec is a skin specialist from Chichester, who advocates going to bed at ten after cleansing with olive oil, washing your face and adding moisturiser. Thus saving yourself money on products, but then thinks it advisable to get in touch with a professional. She has beautiful skin.

After her came Mary Martin who I mentioned earlier and with whom I have fallen in love And finally, the lovely Andy Kyriakos arrived in the studio with his guitar and got us all singing. Andrew joined in with his own special brand of waving his hands about in time to the music.

This is a delightful hour show which has great possibilities for a happy future. It is so good to see a magazine programme with some new people. People I have not seen over and over again in lesser productions. Andrew Eborn has an eye for unusual talent and he has the charm and expertise to make it work.

Stella TV is backed by Media Powerhouse. Andrew Eborn is on every weekday morning from nine until ten following the Mike Read show.

Switch on to – Stella TV THE ANDREW EBORN SHOW Weekdays 09:00am to 10:00am GMT

jack and the beanstalk

3 Dec


it seemed that there were to be no pantomimes at all this year. And sadly, most of them have been cancelled because of the Pandemic. Peter Duncan, tv actor, and Blue Peter hero, had a great idea. He gathered some friends together during the lovely hot summer and invented a panto, using his garden, his neighbours garden, his shed, lots of trees, St Michaels Church Southfields, an assortment of balloons etc just for him and his friends and families to appear in or to watch over the Christmas holidays. To his amazement, it was taken up by a film company and the whole thing was made into a pantofilm, and will appear at various Everyman cinemas over the festive season. It begins with a little girl at the fireside longing for a pantomime but unable to see one cos of virus restrictions. Her father is sad for her, but tells her to shut her eyes and use her imagination.And, by Golly, there it is. The garden is turned into Fairyland by a single wave of the magic wand by the wonderful Nicole Blackman in a luscious floating magical gown as the Garden Fairy,On comes Jill, a sweet and pretty heroine played by the sweet and pretty Sarah Moss. A delicious morsel for the rude and angry giant up in his castle in the sky. We have the evil but cowardly Flesh creepy character played by the great versatile actor Jos Vantyler whose job it is to collect tasty human beings for the Giants dinner. He has to persuade the humans by various means and very different disguises and a variety of different accents.There is the handsome boy Jack, played by the very handsome Sam Ebenezer who has a very fine voice. Veteran actor and past time governer at the Regents Park Theatre Mr Ian Talbot plays the Squire Shortshanks, father of Jill and, from being a wicked man wanting to evict jacks mother from her garden shed turns into a pretty nice creature at the end undergoing a lot of comical suffering. often at the hand of Dame Trott, Jacks mother. Played of course by the star of them all, Peter Duncan himself giving his perennial North Country Dame. Of course, being a pantomime, anything can happen and a few things did and were ‘kept in’ Seeing what they had at their disposal, it is incredible what has been achieved. The scene changes are believable, different settings all around that same area. Not only has Duncan managed to engage six starry people to play the main roles, he also has a chorus, a mixture of people of all ages who sing and dance and fill in the gaps. There are occasionally twenty-two people on stage and they are all dressed alike in witty costumes by David ‘Daisy’Morgan.The most appealing character in Jack and the Beanstalk is, of course, the cow – named in this panto Buttercup. The perpetrators of this character were not to be seen except under the cowskin but they were played by Julia Gale (She does double duty as Choreographer) and Chris RedburnIn addition, there are a whole lot of highly well-remembered jokes from pantomimes seen in the past hundred or so years. And other jokes reminding us of the current situation without moaning about it. What a joy. We should thank Gustav Holst for providing us with an anthem for the show. A hymn that I always remember as ‘I Vow to thee my Country’. Here it is parodied and sung beautifully by our hero as he climbs the tree, and repeated by the full chorus at the end, giving us a rousing and somewhat tearful finale to the show.Duncans Panto is a great joy. Join in, shout and sing.