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Olivier Awards 2018: Panto should not be a dirty word, says winning producer Michael Harrison

Michael Harrison, Nick Thomas and Tom Fletcher. Photo: Pamela Raith Michael Harrison, Nick Thomas and Tom Fletcher. Photo: Pamela Raith
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Pantomime is often considered “the dirty word” of theatre, producer Michael Harrison has complained.

The managing director of panto producer Qdos Entertainment said the genre “hasn’t really been represented in the West End” – but it can be done with as much “style and class” as any musical.

He was speaking at the Olivier Awards, where Qdos’ production of Dick Whittington at the London Palladium won the best entertainment and family category.

Harrison told The Stage: “It can be the dirty word, but it’s so important.

“I work with more graduates than anybody else because they come straight through, they join the ensemble or get into a small principal role then their careers go on from there, so it’s important on all levels; from both the audience’s point of view and from the performers’.”

Qdos chairman Nick Thomas echoed his comments, adding it was important to celebrate the genre because pantomime is “normally a child’s first experience of theatre”.

Harrison said winning the Olivier Award signalled recognition from the West End theatre industry that pantomime could be “something quite special.”

“Pantomime hasn’t really been represented in the West End,” he said.

“It’s only when we brought pantomime back two years ago with Cinderella and recently with Dick Whittington that we’ve been able to reintroduce it to a West End audience and try to do it with the kind of style and class you would do with any musical and that’s why it feels it’s an acknowledgement from everybody that we set out to do something quite special.”

Thomas concurred, adding: “We are stunned, thrilled, we didn’t come expecting to win anything, and this is for the pantomime industry, it’s not just for us – it’s for everyone.”

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