Fond tributes to the man who put the panto back in Bognor

John
John

Bognor’s Regis Centre is paying tribute following the death of John Spillers, the man who brought panto back to Bognor Regis.

This year’s pantomime will be dedicated to his memory.

Hazel Latus, who runs the Regis Centre, said: “I knew John for more than 35 years, from his early days running the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone, Kent. He ran a tight ship and produced amazing pantomimes even then. He was initially a ‘turn’ prior to being theatre manager/producer and director in Maidstone. He was responsible for building up the business and turning the venue around into a lively and highly-successful professional establishment supported by Kay and David Lee prior to setting up Pantoni Productions. Years earlier, David and John were for a while a double act, including Ping & Pong, Aladdin’s policemen.

“John was an old-school impresario who was always a larger-than-life fun character who could be formidable. His integrity and passion for the business never waned and he always approached everything with great enthusiasm. His knowledge about entertainment was second to none, and I am proud to say he taught me lots about how a theatre should work.

“Since bringing Spillers Pantomimes to Bognor Regis, he has grown our Christmas audiences enormously gaining more acclaim each year. His commitment was to offering good family entertainment with up-to-date choreography and music along with beautiful sets and costumes and all scripted and directed to ensure the audiences get the very best from a cast of excellent professionals. John’s pantomimes have always been about family and fun and this has always been instilled in his own family.

“Lucky for us all, Spillers Pantomime will continue under the leadership of family members Lisa Gordon and Bev Berridge, the choreographer and director who have delivered us our superb pantomimes for several years now. This year’s Aladdin will be very special indeed and a real spectacular dedicated to the larger-than-life Mr Spillers, whom I personally will miss very much, as will many.”

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