It's time to 'hang up the frocks' - Stevenage pantomime legend Paul Laidlaw bows out

Stevenage's favourite pantomime Dame Paul Laidlaw. Picture: DANNY LOO

Stevenage's favourite pantomime Dame Paul Laidlaw has decided to 'hang up the frocks' - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

It's the end of an era as Stevenage pantomime legend Paul Laidlaw has decided to bow out of the Gordon Craig Theatre show.

This year's Gordon Craig panto is Aladdin – but the cast will no longer include popular star Paul Laidlaw as the Dame.

Produced by Jordan Productions, panto favourite Paul was due to play Widow Twankey but will now be watching from the audience.

Paul Laidlaw at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage.

Paul Laidlaw at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. - Credit: Alan Davies

In a statement posted on the Gordon Craig Theatre's social media channels, Paul Laidlaw said: "Having appeared in pantomime for 50 years, 35 of them playing Dame at the Gordon Craig Theatre, I have decided that it is time to 'hang up the frocks'.

"This was not an easy decision to make, nor did I take it lightly, but after an enforced year’s break this seems the right time to pass on the torch to someone new. 

"I have enjoyed every moment at the Gordon Craig, playing ‘mum’ to so many wonderful ‘sons’, fantastic casts, amazing technicians and crews (still, in my opinion, the best in the country) and above all, loyal and enthusiastic audiences who I have come to regard as friends.

"I have been a cog in the machine which produces the very best in Christmas entertainment and I know that these wonderful shows will continue under the brilliant direction of Chris Jordan and his hard-working and dedicated team.

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"I shall miss you all very much, but I will be back at the Gordon Craig, now sitting in the audience enjoying the magical productions in this theatre which has been, for so many years, my second home."

Paul Laidlaw as Mrs Smee in 2016 Stevenage pantomime Peter Pan at the Gordon Craig Theatre.

Paul Laidlaw as Mrs Smee in 2016 Stevenage pantomime Peter Pan at the Gordon Craig Theatre. - Credit: Supplied by Gordon Craig Theatre.

The Gordon Craig Theatre team wished Paul "all the very best" and thanked him for "his many dedicated years of service to the Stevenage panto".

In a Facebook post the theatre added: "We are very fortunate to have shared so many laughs over the last 35 years and we look forward to seeing Paul in the audience this year."

Paul Laidlaw as Dame Dotty Derriere at the piano in 2019 pantomime Beauty and the Beast at the Gordon Craig Theatre.

Paul Laidlaw as Dame Dotty Derriere at the piano in 2019 pantomime Beauty and the Beast at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. - Credit: Martin Smith Origin8Photography

Pantomime Aladdin is due to run at the Gordon Craig Theatre from Friday, November 26, 2021 to Sunday, January 23, 2022.

Paul Laidlaw as Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage.

Paul Laidlaw as Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. - Credit: Martin Smith at Origin8 Photography

The poster for Cinderella at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage in 1989/90 featuring Barbara Wind

The poster for Cinderella at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage in 1989/90 featuring Barbara Windsor and Paul Laidlaw. Picture: The Gordon Craig Theatre Archive - Credit: The Gordon Craig Theatre Archive

Stevenage's favourite Dame Paul Laidlaw in the dressing room at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage.

Stevenage's favourite Dame Paul Laidlaw in the dressing room at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, in 2016. - Credit: Gordon Craig Theatre

Paul Laidlaw in costume for the 2010 Gordon Craig Theatre panto

Paul Laidlaw in costume for the 2010 Gordon Craig Theatre panto - Credit: Alan Millard

Paul Laidlaw in costume at the launch of Robin Hood

Paul Laidlaw in costume at the launch of Robin Hood in 2012 - Credit: Harry Hubbard / Archant

Paul Laidlaw as Dame Derriere in Beauty and the Beast back in 2011.

Paul Laidlaw as Dame Derriere in Beauty and the Beast back in 2011. - Credit: Alan Millard / Archant


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