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Great British Pantomime Awards launched to celebrate genre

Amie Howes with the ensemble in Snow White at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, in 2015. The new awards seek to recognise the best of pantomime across the UK
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New annual awards celebrating the best of British pantomime are to be launched.

The Great British Pantomime Awards have been set up to celebrate the genre, which organisers claim is not currently acknowledged as widely as it should be.

The awards will be ‘closed’ this year so the judging process can be trialled ahead of a full launch in 2017/18.

It is anticipated that any UK pantomime that runs for two weeks or more and has a professional cast and creative team will be considered by a large team of judges – currently being recruited.

Categories for the awards include performance prizes for leading and supporting roles, villains, dames, ugly sisters and newcomers.

Design and technical awards will recognise aspects such as lighting, stage design, costume design, special effects and musical score.

Musical direction, writing and choreography will also be celebrated, alongside an annual lifetime achievement award.

Co-founder Sam Munday-Webb, an academic specialising in pantomime who also runs arts company Brackley Youth Theatre in Northamptonshire, said the awards would celebrate “this genre of theatre that is so embedded in our culture”.

“It’s just not nationally recognised at the moment. That’s almost absurd,” he told The Stage.

“We want to recognise the value that pantomime has in each community. There is so much skill involved in good pantomime performance and that should be recognised,” Munday-Webb added.

Judges are being recruited from across the country to view productions, while an executive team of judges will include Munday-Webb and co-founder Daniel Dawson, as well as Simon Sladen, senior curator of modern and contemporary performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and author and academic Millie Taylor.

“We’re obviously very aware that pantomimes are developed and refined for an individual community, so more than anything we need to make sure we take that into account even though it’s a national thing. We want to get it right,” Munday-Webb added.

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