50 Years On: Terry Parsons returns to the Belgrade Theatre
50 years after designing his very first pantomime at the Belgrade Theatre in 1968, acclaimed designer Terry Parsons is back in Coventry this year to work on Sleeping Beauty, his own 50th anniversary coinciding with the Belgrade’s 60th.
As a student at London’s Central School of Art, Terry was awarded a prestigious Arts Council bursary, via a scheme that has since evolved into the renowned Linbury Prize for stage design. This award secured him work at what was then a very different looking Belgrade.
“The prize was to choose a job at one of three theatres, and the main reason I chose the Belgrade was the restaurant!” he laughs. “What you have to understand is that in those days, it really was the beginning of new regional theatres, and it was so glamorous that they had a beautiful new restaurant. I remember it had pink table cloths!”
After designing the costumes for Cinderella in 1967, the first full panto he worked on was Mother Goose the following year. Since then, he’s gone on to enjoy considerable renown for his work on panto, in addition to working on a wide range of other productions both in the UK and overseas. Recent work includes a five-year, fourteen-panto contract for First Family Entertainment, lately taken over by Qdos.
“For some reason I just took to panto – I couldn’t explain why,” he says. “Over the seven years I was at the Belgrade, I did the panto every year, plus about another five shows, I think.
“I actually wasn’t going to do another panto this year, but when this offer came through, I just thought it would make the anniversary so much more special. To be at the same theatre as when I started is extraordinary.”
Don’t get caught napping – set your alarm for when the nation’s dreamiest panto comes to the Belgrade Theatre this Christmas.