PHIL Lowe, “irreplaceable” director and co-writer of Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime since 2007, has died.
The “devastated” theatre has announced: “Our friend, associate director, pantomime director and co-writer passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 13.
“Phil was an integral part of what makes Harrogate Theatre special, both to work at and visit. Our pantomime has truly sparkled since he came to the helm in 2007. He is irreplaceable.”
In his memory, this winter’s production of Cinderella will go ahead, running from November 24 to January 16. “No-one wanted to bring the party back to Harrogate Theatre more than him,” the statement said.
Phil Lowe and chief executive David Bown first combined on a Harrogate Theatre pantomime in 2007, co-writing Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, with Mr Lowe directing a cast led, as ever, by “daft lad” Tim Stedman.
In an interview ahead of the first night, Mr Lowe defined the Harrogate Theatre pantomime experience that would prevail on his watch. “The thing is that we need to cater for four-year-olds to 94-year olds, and you need to have every panto element for everyone, so you don’t alienate anyone,” he said.
“The set, the music, the costumes, the script, they have to appeal to everyone, and it just has to be magical. I just hope I bring a bit of magic to it, and not in David Blaine or Paul Daniels way.
“Harrogate’s show is a traditional panto, where it’s all about the story. Hopefully, children will say ‘it was just like the fairytale’ they read.
“So, we keep it genuine, but with corny gags and little tricks too – and if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. The cast need to keep it rolling, be on the same wavelength with the audience, and have an abnormal passion for panto, like me.”
Thank you, Phil Lowe, for delivering year after year on that brief, in tandem with David Bown.
Harrogate Theatre has set up a Just Giving page for donations in Mr Lowe’s memory, in aid of Harrogate District Hospital’s cardiac care unit, with a £1,000 target that has been surpassed already. To donate, go to: justgiving.com/fundraising/harrogate-theatre1.
“Our thoughts are with Phil’s wife, Caroline, their beloved boys, family and friends,” the theatre statement concluded.