New Wimbledon Theatre is often called the 'Home of London Pantomime', though many venues have tried to lay a claim to our crown. With the Great British Pantomime Awards here next week, we thought we'd take a little trip through the history of panto at the New Wimbledon Theatre.
Having opened on Boxing Day in 1910, our first production was naturally a pantomime, Jack and Jill. Ever since that moment it has been our mission to stage full-scale, traditional panto productions annually and we have only ever missed two years of panto in our history. Once in 1940-41, thought to be due to a bombing at the theatre. And again in 2003-4, when the venue was threatened with closure, only to be saved by ATG.
We have staged an astonishing 105 pantomimes over the years. That number is soon to reach 106 with Paul Merton
starring in this year's production, Aladdin!
From the much loved, and sadly missed, Kenn Dodd to TV hottie David Hasselhoff, many star studden names have appeared on our stage in that time. And what better way to honour our initial patron and creator J B Mulholland, an actor-manager who continuously provided quality pantomimes year on year, than by continuing his tradition?
*1922 review of Aladdin at Wimbledon Theatre, the show coordinated by J B Mullholland.
But we don't just prove our panto might through longevity, Oh no we don't! We also set trends, in the 1980s we became the first panto provider to do Sunday performances and now we are breaking more records by hosting the second year of The Great British Pantomime Awards
, but the first on such a huge scale!
'The awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the great effort which has gone into the Pantomime season across the country 2017/18'.
'We knew that it was never going to be an easy job to see and judge such a vast array of productions in such a short amount of time. Since we launched in 2016 we have been very lucky to have the industry behind us supporting the awards. They are being seen as something incredibly positive and filling a gap in our industry. We want pantomime makers to aspire to innovate as well as celebrate the wonderful traditions we have seen up and down the country.' - Sam Munday-Webb, co-founder.
There are over 20 awards up for grabs, including: Best Comic, Best Male and Female Baddie, Best Ensemble as well as awards for Lighting, Design and Direction. And the nominees can be viewed here
'Judges saw well in excess of 200 shows with up to 6 judges seeing each show. The variety of talent that we have seen has made it clear that pantomime is as alive as ever. With so many talented actors so well supported by back of house teams it has made decisions very difficult, but that can only be good for the future of Pantomime.' - Co-founder Daniel Dawson
The winners will be announced and awards will be bestowed at the awards night on Sunday 15th April 2018 and will be presented by Christopher Biggins, last year's Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, who will be joined by other guests from Pantomime and beyond to celebrate the season.
New Wimbledon are thrilled to be hosting this prestigious event and would like to extend an invite to all panto lovers, you too can come to the ball, so get booking now! We look forward to welcoming you into our home.