I was thinking about the Red Riding Hood script now available and how it is very different to the first Crazy Fox 'Red Riding Hood' script written many years ago. In that first script, I wrote the character of the 'Wolf' as a werewolf-like character 'Wulfgar' lurking in an underground hideaway with his hareem of forest sprites, ready to add Red Riding Hood to his collection.
'Looking less villainous and more cheeky backstage!'
(Today in the updated script*, I've changed the villain, to more of an irascible real wolf, light-fingered, sharp tongued with a penchant for hoodies and a determination to get his hands on a vast sum of money and escape to exotic climes!)
However, back to that original script and a Stage Show where I was directing and collaborating hand in hand with a tirelessly hard working and creative Producer, Evelyn Wales. In order to create the sinister and atmospheric scenes for 'Wulfgar's lair we invested in hiring a state of the art mist machine...well why not?
The visual effect was stunning as the curtain rose at the beginning of the scene. The mist machine hidden beneath 'Wulfgar's throne rolled out mist which shimmered in the evocative lighting, crawled like spectral fingers across the floor and tumbled like a waterfall over the front of the stage.It was breathtaking and we could hear the audience gasp in amazement from our dark and cramped positions backstage. This special 'mist' was designed to quickly evaporate in the heat of the Theatre and disappear from sight within seconds of us turning off the machine. It was wonderful! We were so proud of it!
However, pride comes before a fall! One night's Show didn't quite go according to plan. We turned on the machine, curtains opened and the mist began to roll out across the floor of the stage in ever increasing waves of thickening milky mist slowly becoming a dense fog as Evelyn and I struggled backstage with the controls of the machine unable to switch it off and make it stop!
Not only did the actors disappear in the murky dense clouds but the fog continued to rush over the front of the stage and slowly fill the auditorium. Frantically we struggled to no avail! We decided as we couldn't stop the mist machine making more and more mist that the only option was to remove the whole machine.
Slowly, groping around in a fog filled darkness, we dragged the offending item from under the throne, behind the scenes, feeling our way to the side stage door where fumbling to find the door knob, we managed to open it and launch the still fog-making machine outside onto the car-park where it continued for some while to create foggy weather outside while Evelyn and I, exhausted but laughing uncontrollably, held each other up against the wall gasping for fresh air! Back in the Theatre with the mist now clearing the cast took a bow to much laughter and applause and the Show went on! A strong cup of tea fortified the Director and Producer!
Phew! Never again!
This was one of many crazy backstage stories I could tell- maybe I will tell more one day but I'll never forget the fun that Evelyn and I shared. Evelyn has moved to Scotland where she is still involved with the local Theatre- our loss is their gain- and it is to remember those past fun times that the new updated Red Riding Hood script* is available until June 2017 in our half price offer! Here's to the fun and definitely no mist machine!
For a long time, I had really wanted to create a pantomime script for the wonderful story of Peter Pan. I did, however consider it a daunting project to take on especially as Peter Pan is such a well recognized and popular 'non pantomime' story.
Even though I shelved the project for a number of years while working on and writing other scripts, the desire to see what I could create never went away. I decided with encouragement from a friend of mine, an actor and comedian to 'go for it' and so I did!
I managed to write a script full of pantomime mayhem and traditions but I didn't create a Dame or Good Fairy- but an obvious villain in Captain James Hook! Peter Pan is now part of our Crazy Fox Collection of scripts and in the end was enormous fun to write.
The first time the new script went into stage production, I agreed to co-direct and keep an eye on how it was developing throughout rehearsals. It was very hands on- I'm a glutton for punishment!
One of the good things about directing one's own script is the ability to keep control over the material and how it is portrayed. This may not always be a good thing, I know. It can be hard to be objective but I was lucky enough to have a superbly focused cast full of talent and enthusiasm who were happy to offer their own thoughts on their roles. I liked this!
I worked with young Principals who were not not only totally invested in the characters of Peter and Wendy but sang so beautifully that it was quite wonderful. We were all doubly lucky in that we had a new musical score written especially for this Show with delightful songs that captured the mood so well. Sadly, the score has gone missing over the years but I am doing my best to seek out the sheet music and CD. Someone out there must have it! It would be amazing to be able to offer it with the script- so watch this space!
One of the features that made this first stage production such a great experience was working with the cast playing the pirates. In the spirit of gender equality we had male and female pirates who were all 'orrible and evil and very funny and I enjoyed every minute of working with them. Adding to the fun was our Smee, played so cheekily by John Vince ( I still smile over the 'Dyson' - it's in the script!) and our dastardly villain, Captain James Hook played with delicious deviousness (he likes alliteration) by Ken Tomlinson.
Ken turned in a wonderful and unforgettable performance and it was a pleasure to work with him. He was a constant source of jokes and laughs and although it has been some while since he trod the boards he can still have me in fits of laughter with the quips and jokes he now posts on Facebook.
Finally and because of Ken Tomlinson and all of that wonderful cast, I have added the newly updated Peter Pan script to The Crazy Fox Pantomime Special Offer. Until June 23 2017 Peter Pan script is offered at half price and I'm sure that all of the original cast hope you have as much fun with it as we did!
Many years ago I was asked if I would actually direct my Robin Hood script. As it was a new and at that time an untried script I decided that it might be a good idea to take on the responsibility and consider it to be a 'work in progress' and see how it developed in rehearsals. As the script writer I felt that in being so heavily involved I would be in an ideal position to make any edits or changes that I felt necessary... see where I'm going with this? It was similar to a workshop production long before I had even heard of such a thing existing.
As I knew that I would be working with a large and well-respected drama group including some actors that I had worked with in the past and a tirelessly hardworking Producer, it wasn't difficult to say yes! However, this group had built up a reputation over the years for producing highly regarded and spectacular pantomimes- (so no pressure there then!) but not one to resist a challenge I threw myself enthusiastically into the enterprise.
It turned out to be one of the best experiences working in the theatre that I've ever had! It became clear during rehearsals that this first Robin Hood script required a core of creative and comic actors to flesh out the characters of the Merry Men and I was so lucky to have in the cast some of the funniest guys I've ever worked with and not only in Robin Hood but in other Productions too!
Rehearsals were a blast! Sometimes I had to send them away to a quiet room to practise their roles so the rest of the cast could rehearse without corpsing all the time. The little comic routines and gags they came up between them all found their way into the script and even though the script has undergone many re-writes over many years much of their fun, laughter and the sparkle they brought have remained in one form or another. Opening night of that first Show of Robin Hood had the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter and I'll never forget it.
One character that loomed large in the fun was Friar Tuck, played with aplomb by Bill Workman. Whether he was wearing much padding under those robes or none at all- my lips are sealed! Bill was a prolific gag writer and we are still in touch and he still writes the odd joke for me now. Every time I look back on those days and that very first Robin Hood script, I see Bill in on stage causing mayhem and I can't stop smiling. As part of the Crazy Fox special offer our latest updated version of Robin Hood is offered at half-price until June 23rd 2017. Thanks Bill... and for your many fun roles- this one's for you!
The first script that I became involved with as a writer was Cinderella. Strangely enough it was also the first pantomime story I ever saw as a small child- I won't tell you how long ago that was only that I enjoyed everything about it and my love of pantomime was born that afternoon in the noisy, crowded but wonderful Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton. Even now I can still recall being mesmerizied by the magic of it all!
Cinderella is such a well known and well liked story that it is a good place for any budding pantomime script writer to start and when a first draft of an original script had been written for a Shropshire Drama group by Graham Gibson, a talented writer and lover of the pantomime genre and he kindly invited me to read it and consider adding my own creative touches to it, I jumped at the opportunity. Together we worked on it and a script was completed (It was probably 75% Graham and 25% me but it was a beginning!) It proved to be a great success and a co-writing partnership was born.
Graham and I went on to write collaboratively as well as individually for over twenty years and between us created a catalogue of successful pantomime scripts which sometimes we not only wrote but also occasionally performed in or directed. It was fun times!
When Graham retired both from the stage and from writing, I continued with the writing for a while but put away the Leichner make-up, the glitter and the tights, eventually reducing my involvement and finally archiving all the scripts.
Graham being a 'Hands On Director'!
Some years later it was suggested that I should consider re-writing or updating all the scripts for a modern and wider audience and that germ of an idea grew... and grew and so Crazy Fox Pantomimes was created.
All the scripts have undergone very extensive re-writes to suit a modern audience and current culture while retaining as much of those quirky traditions that are so much a part of British pantomime and with many brand new titles written in the last two years are proving to be popular with new audiences all around the UK and beyond (As far as Spain, Chile and Australia!)
However, Crazy Fox Pantomimes would not have existed without my good friend Graham Gibson and his continued support. Many scripts still bear his name as co-writer as a reflection of his earlier input.
In order to thank Graham and honour his contribution a SPECIAL OFFER has been created and our new Crazy Fox version of Cinderella is now available at half-price until June 23rd 2017.
Keep that Panto flag flying!
CINDERELLA by Celia Fox and Graham Gibson ....Click on the link for details
I was recently going through and sorting photographs from pantomimes productions and as often when one does this looking back at the past I found myself smiling and occasionally chuckling out aloud at many fun and crazy memories... and believe me there were so many! "Oh yes there were!"
It set me thinking about how my interest in writing pantomime scripts began and how my connections and interactions with a variety of wonderful and like minded people have helped me on my way in developing my script writing and creating the Pantomime Website. I'd always loved pantomime from the first time I saw my first Show at four years old and now love to share the pantomime fun with those who also love this quirky and very British genre of live theatre, where in breaking down that fourth wall anything can happen and often does! (...and the stories that I could tell about what goes on back stage still make me laugh out loud!)
Although over the last few years all the original scripts have been extensively re-written in order to keep pace with current news and culture and many brand new scripts have been written, (many for commissions- and thank you for that!) much of what made the performance of these tales fun in the beginning still remains because of the input and participation of many of these good folk. I probably would not have achieved all that I have in this crazy pantomime world without them and their continued support... and I thank them all!
Over the next two weeks I will be writing about some of those fun memories and laughs from past pantomime productions and mentioning some of these talented individuals(Watch this space!) and this idea has spurred me on to create this year's Crazy Fox special offer for followers and customers. I have decided that selected pantomime scripts which have specific behind the scenes stories and special links to some of those fabulous folk who have supported and still do support the world of the crazy fox will be offered (FANFARE!) at half price until June 23rd 2017... (Four half price scripts are available on the website now, Cinderella, Robin Hood, Red Riding Hood and Peter Pan- more will be added!) and I wish a happy panto world to you all!
In recalling the BAFTAs TV awards 2016, I remember how excited I was to see that the BBC's and Mammoth Screen's 'POLDARK' won the BAFTA Radio Times Audience Award for their wonderfully evocative and visually stunning adaptation. As a lover of Winston Graham's books and a sucker for a great story I was especially pleased that this series (which follows closely to the stories in the books) had received the accolades it deserved from an obviously appreciative audience.
When the excitement was over I started thinking why POLDARK was such a success- and yes, we all know about topless scything- but it was only a few seconds in eight hours of storytelling! So, in the end it must be a good script with engaging characters that draws us in and hangs on to us until the end, so that we invest in the plot and want to find out about what happens next, following the 'journey' taken by each character. This was accomplished very deftly by the very talented Debbie Horsfield who has written all the 'POLDARK' scripts. In essence we need to care about those who populate a story whether a brooding hero, rags to riches heroine or a complex villain.
Sounds a bit like a fairy story doesn't it? Are classic fairy tales that different to historical fiction? Maybe a little less supernatural, although that wouldn't apply to 'Outlander', a Sony television USA/UK TV drama! (But that's a different story!)
Whether it be historical drama, thriller writing, romance or... well yes... pantomime, it is necessary to keep an audience invested in the story by creating engaging characters and a developing and interesting plot line that takes everyone on that 'journey' that is worth following - and Poldark does that so well- obvious really isn't it?
I've written scripts covering most of the well known fairy tales but it is always fun to consider writing a pantomime based on the less traditional stories and I'm regularly casting around for new ideas, stories that are popular and current- how about it- POLDARK the Pantomime? I know- it's a really crazy idea- I'm joking!
It would be fun doing research about it though- and I may just check out that scything again!
...and Good luck to the Poldark TV team in the NTAs!
Taking a break from writing pantomime scripts and sharing some discussions on the administration of Crazy Fox Pantomimes got everyone thinking!
In running any business it was decided it is prudent not to be complacent or lose that initiative or creativity used to start it all in the beginning. This is true in developing the ideas for 'the product' in our case- the writing of scripts, keeping them fresh, updating when necessary and always fun and I feel we are doing this and also certainly having fun doing this! However, let's not forget that 'the product' is nothing if it is not available as effectively as it could be for the customer- in our case- the lovely folk who like to stage a Pantomime!
Therefore, after studying the statistics so neatly produced by our website (and these can be endlessly fascinating...no really!) giving information on customer traffic, most viewed pages, most searched scripts, most popular preview script requests and most ordered scripts for performance as well as engaging in customer feedback, it was decided it is time to make some changes.
In response to customer demand and to show we are part of the digital new world - oh yes we are- (Sorry, but we are panto' folk!) scripts will no longer be sent in hard copy form but only in digital form as PDF. Preview scripts, watermarked and 'read only' can be viewed by request free of charge as always... we aim to please! Scripts for performance will be sent in PDF via email, un-watermarked (with our blessing to print as many as you need- okay that's not digital but convenient!) and with song suggestions, technical and staging suggestions within 24 hours of receipt of payment. It seems a good idea! So much information is available in digital form online, lap-top, IPad or smart phone and we can all move with the times... oh yes we can!
Let's keep it simple- but digital!
All details are on the website.
Goldilocks and The Three Bears script was finished towards the end of last year and is already out in production but I haven't rested on my laurels (why would any body do that?) as two more scripts followed soon after. The first was to re-write and just update an old script of Pinocchio from our distant past but in the end it was decided to take the story apart and start again. My research found that the original Pinocchio stories are more horror than fairy tale (and far too terrifying for young children- believe me!) Also the story that most people would be familiar with is Disney's version and thus due to copyright and to be avoided. Don't get me wrong- I do enjoy the Disney retelling of classic fairy tales but it's amazing how quickly people believe they are the only definitive version and expect to see Disney characters and plot lines in pantomimes! (It can't happen!)
This presented various problems in creating a pantomime script- trying to untangle a dark, gruesome and very episodic narrative and keep away from anything 'Disney' but we like a challenge! The results of this effort will be available on the website as soon as final proof and critique readings have been completed: It should be very soon!
The second script written shortly after was The Crazy Tale of Jekyll and Hyde. This began as a commission but although not yet available on the website (It will be soon!) is already proving to be of interest to others- Let's hope the finished script meets with approval. It has certainly been fun writing it and I promise will be very different to anything you think you already know about the story of Jekyll and Hyde. Oh yes it will!
It was also interesting to me as I was writing that my daughter, a professional actor was in rehearsals for... can you guess? Jekyll and Hyde! Life throws up these strange coincidences sometimes. She was performing in was a seriously dark and menacing drama much closer to the original story than our Crazy Fox quirky pantomime. The drama received good reviews- I do hope our very different pantomime version does too!
Check out the website in the next week or two for further details of these new scripts. In the meantime there are plenty of other scripts to peruse and maybe tempt you into performing a Crazy Fox script- we hope so!
In common with many people it is time to accept that the holidays are over (I had an amazing time!) and as the script writer now I must focus on work again.
This has been the longest break from script writing that I have had. It was difficult at first to relinquish the characters and plots that totally dominate my life and put them wholly to one side and actually take a real break! However, once I finally forced myself to close down the computer and walk away it took just a week to feel free from pantomime related tasks.(Which surprised me given my total immersion in all things pantomime and theatre!) A long summer of touring, relaxing, meeting people and seeing new places followed . After 24/7 (or so it seemed) of past pantomime involvement I was surprised how much I enjoyed the break. Usually my head is so full of ideas, pantomime characters and plot lines begging to be written that my fingers have to be prised from the keyboard and I have to be forced to stop and do other things, such as eat or sleep!
As the extended summer break is now over for all crazy foxes this means some concentrated effort is required in order to return and complete four unfinished scripts. 'Four'? You may well ask! Why are we not working on completing one at a time? Ah, well there hangs a tale as those who know us will recognise that writing scripts in our mad world doesn't always follow a smooth pattern from start to finish. We are well known (slightly crazy- hence the name) for having too many ideas all at the same time! One script can be progressing well in it's conception and writing and- wham! -another completely different story pops into life- it's characters and plot demanding to be written too.
It is not possible to push these determined characters to the back of the mind and make them wait until the first script is completed before their story can be told. Believe me- I've tried! Notes and ideas jostle to be written down for writing as a script later and only when that is done can I settle back into continuing to write the script that I was originally working on. The problem is then sorted you may think but, hey ho, the craziness continues as more ideas for other scripts always pop into my head or are suggested by other crazies! So many ideas and so little time! So, that simply is how, before the holidays, I found myself writing four scripts simultaneously .
So here I sit, laptop open and fingers poised over the keys... but which script shall I be working on today? The Little Match Girl? (Now where did I leave the story... was the villain succeeding in his evil plot and had the grumbling gargoyle made an entrance?) or maybe I'll go back to the script I had begun for The Crazy Tale of Jekyll and Hyde, our own quirky version which was making me laugh out loud! I suppose I should continue with the script for Pinocchio which was nearest to completion before all the other ideas got in the way.
Of course I could go back to the writing The Snow Queen which is in a first draft and wait a minute- what about all the notes and planning I made for Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves which is waiting for further development and of course I did promise someone that I would write Treasure Island Pantomime- Did I say FOUR scripts at the same time? (A little miscalculation methinks!)
Looks like I'm going to be busy and the holiday break is really over. Deep breath, head down, fingers flexed- let's start writing...and writing... and writing... and...
Watch this space!
Latest news from The Den...
We are pleased to say that the script of Goldilocks is finished (Hurray!) but took longer to complete than originally planned.(Boo!- you can tell we're panto' folk really can't you?) We hope it will be well received now it is available on the website (after critique and proof reading and nervous wobbles- Oh yes, there was!) We're definitely too pantomime! (Especially with the the use of parentheses?)
Lilleshall Pantomime and Drama group who produced our Wizard of Oz script reported that they all had a lot of fun with it and it was well received by the audience. They are already reading new preview scripts and say they would be happy to use a Crazy Fox script again for next year's Show (Which is nice!) The Group who produced our new Jack and the Beanstalk script (Henley Players) also reported they had a great time, which makes our job worthwhile, and they gave us useful feedback and permission to use some photographs on the website. We may provide the scripts but the hard work and magic takes place on the stage so well done all!
Our version of Aladdin goes into production soon for Starlight Productions at The Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton and a Champagne reception beckons!
Happily all our scripts have been requested for preview readings so we wait to hear... if they are chosen for performance, we often open a bottle of bubbly (any excuse!)
and if not... we're philosophical, after all you can't win 'em all!
Our versions of The Little Match Girl, Pinocchio and a new script, The Crazy Story of Jekyll and Hyde, have all been planned and story boarded and we are looking forward to the writing and the laughs that will ensue as they take shape on the page (well lap-top!)
Finally we were commissioned to write a mini-panto' of the story of Dick Whittington. This proved to be an hilarious experience as we tried to cram the whole story into a manic ten minute 'sketch'! Having enjoyed the challenge of this commission so much we are thinking of writing more mini- panto' suitable for cabaret or comedy slots in small venues... an why not? We like a challenge!
Our news is therefore that the Crazy Foxes are busy-busy and buzzing as ever... 'Oh yes we are!' (And don't we love it!)