Michael Harrison Chats to Whatsonstage North East
Date: 1 July 2009
As regular readers will know Michael Harrison, MD of Qdos Pantomimes, has allowed us open access to technical rehearsals and reporting from backstage during the record breaking pantomimes, he both writes and directs, at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.
After following the progress of Michael writing and casting last year’s pantomime at the Theatre Royal, by way of monthly updates, we took the opportunity to catch up with him to understand how he became of the UKs’ top producers.
From talking to Michael we already knew he was from Wallsend, North Tyneside and used to visit the Theatre Royal regularly as he grew up in the region. But how did he make the move from Tyneside to theatre producer? Surprisingly the Theatre Royal plays a central part in how this happened.
Michael had been producing shows such as, music hall while at Edinburgh University before the late Peter Sarah, who was the Manager of the Theatre Royal, arranged a meeting for Michael with David Pugh (Producer of The Play What I Wrote). Michael took the opportunity to join Pugh’s Marketing Team and work his way up from the bottom.
The opportunity to join Qdos came after meeting Nick Thomas and he initially looked after eight pantomimes but within three years became Managing Director of Qdos Pantomimes. This year he is producing twenty one pantomimes, personally looking after six and writing and directing two. He has already finished the first draft of the new production of Cinderella which will play at the Theatre Royal(starring the record breaking father and son duo Clive Webb and Danny Adams) , while the other is Sleeping Beauty, starring Ray Quinn and Joe Pasquale in Birmingham.
But away from Qdos what hobbies does Michael have?
The simple answer is none, basically his work is twenty four seven, as on top of Qdos he runs Michael Harrison Entertainments. So if he is not producing, directing or attending a show, he is meeting with clients or artistes.
This year alone has seen North East venues enjoy successful runs of The Witches of Eastwick and Jolson and Co, both of which have been produced by Michael an these are on top on top of his record breaking pantomimes at the Theatre Royal and other shows around the country, which include West End productions, tours and of course pantomimes.
Plans are already being made for 2010 and while there are no details yet released, the Theatre Royal is sure to figure highly amongst them.
- by John Dixon
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