Over the past eleven years family-run pantomime producers, Evolution Productions have built up a reputation for being the UK’s number-one creators of bespoke high-quality pantos. The 2016 line up does nothing to disprove this. The company, which is run by husband and wife team, former TV presenter Paul Hendy and Oxford graduate and former film production manager Emily Wood, will be presenting a festive banquet of seasonal shows across the country from the end of November 2016 to mid-January 2017. The line up comprises Dick Whittington starring Stephen Mulhern (ITV’s Catchphrase, Big Star Little Star) as Billy at The Marlowe in Canterbury, Peter Pan starring Emma Barton (Honey Mitchell – Eastenders) as Tinkerbell and Shaun Williamson (Barry Evans – Eastenders and himself in Extras) at The Hawth in Croydon, Sleeping Beauty at Lichfied Garrick Theatre starring Rebecca Keatley (CBeebies) as Fairy Moonbeam and the great dame himself Sam Rabone as Nurse Nellie, Snow White at The Lyceum Theatre Sheffield starring Wendi Peters (Coronation Street – Cilla Battersby- Brown) and Phil Gallagher (CBeebies – Mister Maker), Snow White at The Alban Arena St Albans starring Rita Simons (Eastenders – Roxy Mitchell) and Ian Kirkby (Dick & Dom In Da Bungalow), Cinderella at Theatre Severn Shrewsbury with panto favourite Brad Pitt and Peter Pan at the Octagon Theatre Yeovill starring supervillain Andrew Fettes as Captain Hook.
Formed in 2005 by wife and husband Emily Wood and Paul Hendy, Evolution is built on its ethos of producing superior, bespoke theatre shows. Regularly featuring in lists of the top pantomimes in the country, their shows are acknowledged for high quality production values, strong casting and genuinely funny scripts. Evolution is, at its heart, a family run business and it maintains a close, home-crafted relationship with all of its work, providing it with a real intimacy and friendliness. Over the past decade, Paul and Emily have produced shows in some of the best theatres in the country and they pride themselves on casting some of the nation’s most talented performers including: Ade Edmondson, Nigel Havers, Stephen Mulhern, Gareth Gates, Larry Lamb, Steve McFadden, Samantha Womack, Shaun Williamson, Toyah Willcox, Phil Daniels, Ian ‘H’ Watkins, George Takei and Vanilla Ice.
Emily Wood read French and Italian literature at Oxford University and subsequently worked as a Production Manager for a company who made high-end cinema commercials. During this period she worked with esteemed British film director, Jonathan Glazer, on projects for Stella Artois, Levis and the famous Guinness ads, as well as his film Birth which starred Nicole Kidman. However, live theatre was always Emily’s passion and producing pantomimes was perhaps a pre-destined fate for Kent-based Emily; her Great-grandfather toured Variety and Pierrot shows all over the country during the early 1900s, and her parents, who met while working for Alan Ayckbourn, are a theatrical producer and designer. 2005 she began Evolution Productions with her husband, Paul Hendy, and now produces seven pantomimes all over the country as well as hiring sets and costumes out to another six theatres. Today Evolution is very much a family business as Emily works alongside her mother and sister as well as her husband. She also juggles the huge demands of the business with having a young family. Her three children, Freddie, Poppy and Jago are proud owners of the Guinness World Record for the most pantomimes watched in one year.
Paul Hendy is a writer, director, producer, actor and TV presenter. For TV he presented The Disney Club, Don’t Try This At Home with Davina McCall, Wheel of Fortune, the BAFTA nominated Dear Mr Barker and the cult classic Stash the Cash. His critically praised novels include Diary Of A C-List Celeb and Who Killed Simon Peters? Alongside a career in writing and television, Paul has always been passionate about pantomime. He has performed in twenty-five professional pantomimes, has written over fifty scripts, and for the last thirteen years has directed at least two major pantos a year. In 2014, Paul directed the national tour of the Olivier Award winning Eric Morecambe one-man play, Morecambe starring Bob Golding by Tim Whitnall which was a co-production between Evolution and Feather Productions. His short film The Last Laugh which he wrote, directed and produced, about a behind the scenes encounter between Eric Morcambe, Tommy Cooper and Bob Monkhouse was completed in 2016 and has been sweeping up awards at film festivals across the world including ‘Best Comedy Drama’ at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and ‘Award of Excellence’ at the Global Film Awards.