Big panto takeover: North East and beyond

Snow White will be this year's panto at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Snow White will be this year’s panto at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle

One of the biggest international producers of Musical Theatre, Crossroads Live which has offices in Los Angeles, London and Sydney, has announced the acquisition of Qdos Pantomimes. This is the UK’s biggest panto producer, producing Christmas shows in 29 venues across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Panto in the North East

In the North East Qdos (and now Crossroads Live) presents pantos at Darlington Hippodrome and Newcastle Theatre Royal. This is as well as at Hull New Theatre and The Grand Opera House, York. It also presents the only panto in London’s West End, at the London Palladium. It was Qdos which returned panto to the West End in 2016 after a 30 year absence with Cinderella. In 2017 its production of Dick Whittington was the first panto ever to receive an Olivier Award.

The new company, Crossroads Pantomimes, will be led by Crossroads Theatrical Group Chairman, David Ian, and former Qdos Pantomimes Managing Director Michael Harrison. Michael was born in Wallsend, as Chief Executive.

David Ian Productions

This follows Crossroads Live’s acquisition in 2019 of David Ian Productions whose current shows include 9 to 5, The Book of Mormon, Waitress, Cats, Shrek and The Bodyguard. On Broadway Crossroads Live is a co-producer of Mrs Doubtfire, Company and Almost Famous. In 2020 it also acquired Australian production company The Gordon Frost Organisation.

David Ian said, “I am absolutely thrilled to be working again with Michael. Crossroads Pantomimes is a natural development of our long-time producing relationship and the passion we both share for creating world class entertainment. We look forward to creating something very special for the UK Theatre industry whilst staying true to the great tradition of British pantomime.”

Michael Harrison, who will continue as an independent producer with his own company, Michael Harrison Entertainment, added, “The creation of Crossroads Pantomimes marks an exciting next step in the evolution of pantomime, joining our unique experience as leading pantomime producers with the skill, resource and investment of Crossroads Live. Our operation will remain firmly rooted in the UK and will build on the long tradition of pantomime, but continue to push the genre forward, as we’ve done over the past two decades.”

Darlington and Newcastle panto this year

This year’s pantomime at Darlington Hippodrome will be Cinderella. No casting has yet been announced.

Newcastle Theatre Royal’s show this year will be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The cast will be led, as usual, by Danny Adams, Clive Webb from Sunderland and Chris Hayward from Newcastle. They are joined by South Shields-born Joe McElderry.

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