This Sunday we remember Ian Sandy, a man who had a great influence on the people and places connected to Birmingham Hippodrome during his 20 years as Company Manager on the UK’s biggest pantomime. In memory of Ian we decided to share a blog post he wrote for us back in 2011 in the lead up to Cinderella; we hope you appreciate sharing the memories of Ian’s hard work behind the scenes with us…

It’s that time of year again when I get out the Jingle Bells and get ready for the madness of panto!

Ian Sandy pictured on stage at Birmingham Hippodrome during panto season

What does a Company Manager do you may ask?  Well, I’m an accountant, logistics coordinator, creative (when required), Health & Safety Officer, doctor, father figure, and confidant.    I tend to describe myself as Captain of the mighty Birmingham Qdos ship charged with steering it into port after a long journey (occasionally with stormy weather) at the end of January – and I love it!   As soon as the producer, director and creative team have worked their magic, it’s over to me to keep it on course.

After 23 years of panto (mostly in Birmingham) it never ceases to be great fun and I am ever mindful that we are fortunate to present the biggest pantomime in the UK and  it’s part of my job to keep it fresh and sparkling for every new audience.

Fortunately, the resident Hippodrome Management are a pleasure to work with and we’ve shared many wonderful years together – in particular Mandy Rose (Press & PR Officer at the Hippodrome) and myself who have shared many a press call, often creating christmas magic in the middle of the summer!

Today,  I’m at my desk preparing contact sheets and checking hotel and accommodation arrangements on behalf of the cast.  I’ve just had a very long conversation with Basil Brush making sure all his props will be in place for rehearsals!  And I’ve had a lovely email from Lynda Bellingham checking her call times.  For Lynda it’s her first time in panto and she can’t wait, I know she’ll be brilliant!

Brian Conley and Lynda Bellingham

I spoke to Brian Conley yesterday – it”ll be my 5th Panto with him, a consumate professional loved by Birmingham audiences and a pleasure to work with.

Whilst panto is an all year round creative process, most people don’t actually realise that we only rehearse for 2 weeks before the opening night – but that’s the joy of working with professionals who give 100% from day one to make it such a special event.   Michael Harrison (Producer and Director) just sent me a text about the magical transformation scene (as we call it in the trade) when the Fairy Godmother gives Cinder’s her amazing ball gown and coach and horses.  Michael is as excited as us and his genius and passion to create this most spectacular scene this year will leave the audience spell bound…

Oh – there’s the ‘phone and it’s Tony Priestley (our Wardrobe Master extraordinaire).   His Frocks are the best in the country and we spend 20 minutes discussing fittings and dressing rooms …

The countdown is most definitely on with the first week of rehearsals in London only a couple of weeks away – watch out Birmingham here we come … again!

A special performance dedicated to the memory of Ian Sandy takes place this Sunday (12 May) with tickets priced at £25 and proceeds going to some of Ian’s favourite charities. To book and for more info click here.


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