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Nottingham pantomime director ‘astonished’ after he was replaced at Playhouse

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Leading British theatre director and actor Kenneth Alan Taylor was left ‘astonished’ after being dismissed from Nottingham Playhouse after 36 years of working at the theatre. Kenneth wrote, directed and even starred as a dame in pantomime productions including Beauty and the Beast.

Kenneth said that he was told by the Playhouse that he would no longer be needed without a chance to challenge the decision or say goodbye properly. This was denied by the organisation, who said that a celebration had been planned but that the invitation was turned down.

“I brought pantomime to Nottingham Playhouse when I started in 1984 as it was something they hadn’t done before and went on to do it for 36 years,” said Mr Taylor. “I served as Artistic Director for five years then the chief executives asked me to stay on as they acknowledged that the pantomime makes the most money for them.”

Read more: ‘Angry and naughty’ young girl now fighting for the Nottingham youth organisation that saved her

“I was told that I would no longer directing the pantomime but when I asked why, they said they wanted to bring in a new audience. They asked me if I would step down and I said yes as I was in a state of shock. However, the next day I thought about it and realised it made me look as if I am stepping down because I can’t work anymore, which is not the reason.”

Shortly after Kenneth was asked to step down, Covid hit and caused havoc with theatres across the city centre. The pantomime, along with many other productions, were cancelled as Britain was plunged into lockdown but the following year saw smaller scale productions take place.

Kenneth hasn’t set foot in the Playhouse since the last night of Sleeping Beauty. Although he was invited to the final night by the Playhouse, he felt too uncomfortable answering questions about what the show would look like the following year as the audience would always approach him to ask.



Nottingham Playhouse
Nottingham Playhouse

A spokesperson from Playhouse said that the Playhouse had decided to go in a new direction and that the decision had not been financial. He said attempts were made to contact Mr Taylor to invite him to come to the final night of the Panto so that they could acknowledge his contribution and that he had declined.

“Nottingham Playhouse felt that after 37 wonderful productions with Kenneth at the helm, but the time had come to update and refresh the pantomime. Our Artistic Director wrote and directed our 2020 production of Cinderella, to great praise from both audiences and critics, and the Playhouse board asked him to lead on creating Dick Whittington this year,” said the spokesperson.

“We sent the information via email to give Kenneth time to process the contents and followed up shortly afterwards with a personal phone call.

“The decision to replace Kenneth was because it was the right time to update and refresh the panto. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on theatres across the country, and whilst Nottingham Playhouse is in no financial difficulty, the Artistic Director only agreed to write Dick Whittington on the understanding that he would be donating the writer’s royalty back to the Playhouse.

The spokesperson concluded: “We had invited Kenneth to the final night of Beauty and the Beast with plans to publicly celebrate his huge contribution to the Playhouse panto. Whilst he declined, we would be delighted to rearrange for a future occasion. We wish him all the very best.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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