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Kenneth Alan Taylor on Nottingham Playhouse pantomime
Kenneth Alan Taylor as Widow Twankey
Kenneth Alan Taylor made his last performance in Aladdin

Kenneth Alan Taylor, writer and director of Nottingham Playhouse's pantomime, has revealed that it was nearly cancelled after its first year.

It was due to the Theatre Royal already doing pantomime and both venues were taking advantage of council grants.

He told BBC Radio Nottingham: "I was summoned to the Council House and was told that we couldn't do pantomime.

"I was taken aback... I said I would stop doing pantomimes if the Theatre Royal stopped doing plays."

The year was 1983 and Kenneth Alan Taylor won the day with the council agreeing with his argument.

He went on to become friends with the former Theatre Royal manager Barry Stead. They even co-produced plays together.

Twenty six years on and the Playhouse pantomime has become part of Nottingham life, it is also crucial for the theatre's year ahead.

Mr Taylor said: "It's a vital part of the finances now. It gives you what I like to call the right to fail, you can take a risk."

Kenneth Alan Taylor and John Elkington by Robert Day
Kenneth Alan Taylor and John Elkington as Torvill and Dean

Old jokes

In 2009, Beauty and the Beast was Kenneth Alan Taylor's 26th successive pantomime. The jokes were just as old but Mr Taylor said that was not a bad thing.

"[The jokes] are like meeting an old friend. They [the audience] grow up with it and want to see it at Christmas. That is the joy of panto."

At the end of the 2008/09 season Kenneth Alan Taylor hung up the frock for good. He admitted missing not being star of the show.

"Occasionally, when something happens I think 'oh why didn't you say that?'"

John Elkington became the new dame in 2009, after playing the villain, silly boy and ugly sister in previous shows.

Mr Taylor said: "John is unique, he's quirky, I absolutely adore him... He's just John in a frock."

Kennth Alan Taylor portrait by Brian Pickering
Kenneth Alan Taylor's first pantomime at the Playhouse was in 1983

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is not an obvious pantomime story but Kenneth Alan Taylor admits it is his favourite.

He said: "The most popular panto ever is Cinderella, I think it's boring.

"There's no real conflict, no real baddie, I know you have the ugly sisters... it's very popular and lovely, it's a girlie pantomime.

"[Beauty and the Beast] is for everyone. It's about true love and not judging people for how they look."

Beauty and the Beast is showing at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday, 23 January, 2010. Tickets are priced between £17 - £21.

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