James Barry (lyricist) and Simon Slater, (composer) have been nominated for the Musical Achievement Award in the Great British Pantomime Awards for their musical score of Theatre Royal Winchester’s traditional pantomime, Beauty and the Beast.
The nominations were announced by comedian Al Murray via Facebook on Sunday evening. The winners will be announced at a spectacular awards ceremony at the New Wimbledon Theatre on Sunday 28 April. The awards will be hosted by panto veteran Christopher Biggins.
The judging team visited over 200 pantomimes across the country during December and January, visiting in excess of 750 performances. The judging panel included current and retired industry professionals; theatre academics as well as media and communications professionals. The performances were marked against a number of criteria and quality benchmark.
James Barry has written and directed the last 14 consecutive scripts for Theatre Royal Winchester, working with Simon Slater on the last 10 productions. In addition to pantomime titles, James has scripted Three Musketeers, and Sherlock’s Excellent Adventure and in the early 80s shows such as as No 73. Simon Slater has composed original music for over 300 theatre, film, TV and radio productions including Constellations (Duke of York’s and Royal Court, New York) for which he was nominated for an Olivier award.
Simon Slater comments:
‘It is a thrill and honour to be nominated for this award. The Theatre Royal Winchester provides a great opportunity to write an original musical score for a pantomime. I really believe that it is an important element that keeps the shows alive and fresh – and of course that affects the future theatre going audience for the rest of the year. James and I have written these pantos for over ten years together so it’s a welcome affirmation of years of panto labour! A big thank you to the Awards organisation, Theatre Royal Winchester and most of all the great audiences of Winchester.’
James Barry continues:
‘Over the years Theatre Royal Winchester has always supported and encouraged us, whether it was agreeing to bring back live music to the show a few years back, or last year, when we jointly decided to use actor/musicians, which made such a different to Beauty and the Beast. We also had a fantastic cast this year, who really did us proud. As did our ‘resident panto band’ of Tom Attwood and Joe Pickering who were as fantastic as always. I’d like to thank Simon who is not only a brilliant composer, but a top bloke and a true joy to work with. Thanks to the Great British Pantomime Awards for the work they have done in raising the status of the genre and recognising the skill involved in this artform.’
Deryck Newland, Chief Executive of Live Theatre Winchester which runs Theatre Royal Winchester comments:
‘Congratulations to James and Simon on this richly deserved nomination. The music and lyrics they create make our gem of a pantomime come to life –from both toe-tapping, ear worming tunes to poignant, heartfelt melodies – our audiences are captivated at every single performance. The performance values go from strength to strength each year and to be recognised in these national awards is a great testament to James, Simon and the whole team involved in putting the show together.’
Beauty and the Beast is the most successful pantomime at Theatre Royal Winchester with almost 20,000 watching the extravaganza last Christmas.
The successful writing partners, James Barry and Simon Slater, are currently working on the music for this year’s pantomime at Theatre Royal Winchester, Dick Whittington, which opens on Saturday 30 November.