Panto Bills and Posters
Ruby Murray in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Kings Theatre Southsea, before tour.
We are grateful to John Nickolaus for the following pictures - why not join his Yahoo Group 'Damsels, Dwarfs and Dames: a Tribute to Snow White in Pantomime' - follow the following link to join - link
We are also very grateful to Duggie Chapman for supplying the picture of the cast. This was taken at the Kings Theatre Southsea in 1962 where this production opened before touring for almost eleven months.
We had originally thought that this production ran for two years, however we received the following information from cast member Llewellyn Williams - plus some insight into the production.
It opened in October 1962 at Southsea Kings Theatre for ten week No.1 tour, then to Weymouth Pavilion for Pantomime season. However, as Ruby, Bernie and Ted Rogers (Jester) were all previously booked for panto, they were replaced respectively by Barbara Jackson, Peter Elliot (Singer and ex-Olympic Swimmer) and Tommy Godfrey. (Just back from three years in Australia, and later to become well known in a couple of TV series). This was the ‘great snows’ period (1962/63) and we were literally snowed-in, with theatre booked solid. But audiences were not able to get in from surrounding areas, so that during final week when ground had cleared slightly, the firemen just closed their eyes as, in order to try and honour the bookings, every performance was crammed with chairs in the aisles and standing everywhere.
Although scheduled to then go back on the road, touring was not possible until mid-March, when we re-rehearsed and opened at Morecambe Alhambra with Ruby and Bernie, but the Jester now played by Tony Hughes and Pamela Penfold as Second Girl.
Incidentally, the stilt/puppet act Jean and Peter Barbour were the spesh in the first tour, replaced by a chimpanzee act at Weymouth and then for second tour by Peter's brother Roy and wife Billie (Shiela Hancock's sister) with their stilt act. This worked well visually for first half finale when, at the end of their act, dancers and the dwarfs joined them onstage.
We toured on through the blistering hot summer until, having caught the interest of the Gaumont/Odeon circuit, we played their two ‘graveyard, test dates’ at Cheltenham and Taunton in August– where the show did excellent business. This would have meant a year’s bookings, had not F.W. Woodward (Fred) not then marched into the office and stated ‘his terms!’ One did NOT do this to the bosses of this circuit and they simply showed him the door, which meant that the show then came off. So a TOTAL run of around 48 weeks.
Bernie Burgess refers to this show in derogatory terms in his book “Ruby – my precious Gem”, and apart from errors concerning our sword fight which I staged, I have to disagree with his criticisms of a show which played to packed houses. In fact it was obtained by Fred Woodward (for reasons which I won’t go into here) who owned a Coach firm in Nottingham. When provincial ‘Panto King’ Jack Gilham went bankrupt, Fred bought at auction his complete storehouse for ‘peanuts.’ Blowing the dust of the SNOW WHITE script, (which had toured previously for three years and made a star out of Anne Rogers) he thought of Ruby Murray – which turned out to be good casting. (I have a fund of happy stories about this tour, including many of Ruby, then and in later years, which somewhat make up for my sadness over the tragic way her life turned out.
Another anomaly is that for the Moss Empires dates on first tour, in the programme cast list for the Moss Empires dates on first tour, some clown in the the Delfont publicity office managed to translate my surname from Williams to Davies, even though my photo/biog on the same pages as Ruby and Ted showed my name accurately. I had a heck of a time getting Adolph Neiman to correct it!
On left Llewellyn Williams as Henchman Centre Tony Lester King Crackers with RUBY MURRAY "Snow White" and stage debut of TED ROGERS with Barbara Jackson.
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