The UK Pantomime Association has an organising board, each of whom share responsibility for governing and directing how the association is managed and run. Drawn from a range of specialist backgrounds in the arts, business and education, they use their expertise, unpaid, for the benefit of the purposes of the UKPA. They are committed to ensuring that there is inclusivity, transparency and professionalism in all facets of the work of the association.
Simon Sladen (Chair)
Simon Sladen is Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Senior Tutor (Performance) on the V&A / RCA’s History of Design postgraduate programme. He is Pantomime Editor for the British Theatre Guide and in 2011 founded Panto Day, later creating the Pantomime Advice Page and National Database of Pantomime Performance. His published scholarly research on contemporary pantomime encompasses tradition, training, casting, conventions, cross-dressing and global forms of the genre.
Susie McKenna (Vice-Chair)
Susie McKenna is an established Director, currently Associate Director at the Kiln. She recently co-directed the critically acclaimed NW Trilogy by Roy Williams, Moira Buffini and Suhayla el Bushra at Kiln Theatre, and previously Blues In the Night starring Sharon D Clarke, Clive Rowe, Debbie Kurup and Gemma Sutton at Kiln Theatre as part of their re-opening inaugural season; Olivier Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in an affiliate theatre.
After writing and directing Hackney Empire’s first ‘in house’ pantomime, Dick Whittington, in 1998, Susie wrote and directed the pantomime there every year since, including 2020’s 21st anniversary production of Dick Whittington set in post war London 1948 as Dick arrives on the SS Empire Windrush. Her other main house productions at Hackney Empire include: Blues in the Night, Beau Jest , Sit and Shiver (starring Steven Berkoff, Kat and Tameka Show), La Variété, Sing Out, Alter Ego, A Midsummer Night’s Madness ( NYC and Edinburgh) a musical adaptation of Macbeth and Once on this Island; a co-production with Birmingham Rep and Nottingham Playhouse.
Sam Munday-Webb (Vice-Chair)
Sam is a director, writer, producer and educator with experience in theatre, education and schools and has overseen many pantomime productions in many guises. In 2016 Sam founded the Great British Pantomime Awards. Sam trained at Royal Cental School of Speech and Drama and he has worked in community arts engagement as a director and educator in Northamptonshire and facilitates and manages the artistic programme for Brackley Youth Theatre. He also has an in-depth knowledge of Safeguarding and works with local and national organisations to support their safeguarding provision. Sam’s company The Inspiration Factory offers bespoke workshops to business to promote well being and better team practices, which includes a talk about ADHD, OCD and mental health to encourage people of all ages to talk about mental health. Sam is a trustee and director of the Royal and Derngate, Northampton where he also sits on the Arts Sub Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Nick Humby (Treasurer)
Nick is a retired qualified Accountant (working in TV, Sport and Theatre). He was the Finance Director of Thames TV/ Pearson TV during its transformation from London Weekday Broadcaster to Global Production company and Finance Director of Manchester United plc from 2002 to 2007. Between 2011 and 2015, he was senior Executive Director for the Lawn Tennis Association and The Football Association including spells at both as Interim CEO. He served as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of The Ambassadors Theatre Group from 2000 to 2009 and the Arts Council audit committee from 2011 to 2015, He currently a Trustee of Richmond Theatre Trust and a Governor of the London Film School. Nick has had a lifelong passion for Theatre and seen over 1000 professional productions. In recent years he has reviewed professional shows for Pocket Sized Theatre and West End Wilma and been a judge for GB Pantomime Awards seeing up to thirty pantomimes each year. He is a district representative for NODA , the association of Amateur Theatre societies.
Alex is a Director, Writer and Graphic Designer. Originally from Exeter, now based in London, Alex has a passion for theatre with entertainment at its heart. Theatre that will make you laugh, and make you cry. He is Co-Founder and Festival Director of Exeter Fringe Festival, a Junior Associate at the King’s Head Theatre, and co-creator of new musical theatre podcast All That Scratch recorded live at The Other Palace. He has a breadth of experience working across comedies, histories, queer stories and musical theatre. In 2019 he directed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for Prime Pantomime’s inaugural season at Queen’s Theatre Barnstaple, and his pantomime scripts are performed by amateur companies across the UK and internationally. He enjoys regularly designing artwork for pantomimes and other productions alongside directing and writing.
Chris Jarvis has appeared on Children’s television since 1993, hosting a variety of shows such as Fully Booked, Friday Zone and Jungle Run. Behind the scenes, he has written and devised shows including the BAFTA & RTS winning Old Jack’s Boat, Show Me Show Me and many Children’s BBC pantomimes. Chris has appeared in professional pantomimes every year since 1995. He is a proud trustee of Action for Children’s Arts and a director of Little Radio Ltd producing shows for BBC Sounds and CBeebies Radio.
Linda is thrilled and honoured to be a Trustees for the UK Pantomime Association. She started her career in entertainment at the ripe old age of 16 years old and had to take a break to focus on a “normal job”! Entertainment never left Linda’s life and she pursued an acting and singing career when her daughter reached teenage years. Fast forward to today, and Linda has been involved in a number of professional projects ranging from West End Theatre, UK and International Tours, Television soaps such as Eastenders and BBC2’ Almas Not Normal in addition to Feature Films. Pantomime credits include: The Empress in Aladdin (QDOS Pantomimes), Genie in Aladdin (Exeter Corn Exchange), Diva in Peter Pan (First Family Entertainment), Fairy Bow Bells in Dick Whittington (Camberly Theatre), Aduki the Fairy and Ackee the Jamaican Cook in Jack and the Beantstalk (Greenwich Theatre).
David’s lifelong interest in Music Hall, Pantomime and Variety began as a child having seen many Summer Seasons in his home Town of Llandudno and, later, numerous Pantomimes at the Swansea Grand Theatre. Training in Drama at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has led to a varied career as a Butlin’s Redcoat; Performer; Lecturer: Education Manager; and Theatre Director. He has also been awarded Degrees from both Swansea University and the University of Glamorgan. As a Pantomime Director, he has worked for a number of leading Production Companies in a range of venues across the UK. These include: Grand Theatre, Blackpool; Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl; The Riverfront, Newport; and the magnificent Sunderland Empire. In addition to working in Theatre, David undertakes freelance work with Post Graduate students for the University of Buckingham and is an external moderator for the University of the Arts London.
Robert Marsden is an experienced pantomime practitioner, having directed professional pantomime since 1999. Since 2007, he has worked with producer Stephen Boden at Imagine Theatre Ltd. As a theatre director, he has worked in both commercial and subsidised theatre sectors across the UK and into Europe. Directing experience includes comedies, dramas, verbatim and documentary theatre, Shakespeare, Jacobean tragedy, Restoration comedy, new writing and musicals, having worked for Selladoor Worldwide, the New Vic, Stephen Joseph Scarborough, Leatherhead Rep, Swanage Rep, DGO, Milton Keynes Theatre, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Bolton Octagon, Reveal Theatre, Theatre Productions, Hordern Ciani, United National Productions and the BBC. Robert is Head of the Department of Media and Performance at Staffordshire University where he is also an Associate Professor in Acting and Directing and holds a doctorate in rehearsal room practices and breakthroughs. His book, Inside the Rehearsal Room is due to be published by Bloomsbury in January 2022.
Laura has worked in the world of theatre production for 26 years and in that time been associated with over 300 productions. She has worked for every major pantomime production company in the UK, starting with Paul Elliott at E&B Productions, then Qdos Entertainment. In 2005 she joined First Family Entertainment and during her 12 years there was responsible for casting some of the biggest names to ever grace the stage in a pantomime including David Hasselhoff, Priscilla Presley, Pamela Anderson, Cilla Black, Barbara Windsor and Henry Winkler to name but a few. Laura is now Associate Producer and Head of Celebrity Casting for Imagine Theatre and is helping to grow the company’s portfolio of venues and star casting. The company will be creating 17 shows this coming Christmas season with Laura producing 8 of them.
Laura is immensely proud to be part of The UK Pantomime Association as she feels strongly that the artform should be given more recognition for being the lifeblood of theatre in Britain. She looks forward to working with the team to champion the genre and help it evolve so many more future generations can enjoy it.