Team behind Above the Stag Theatre announce new company

Following the very sad, recently-announced closure of LGBTQ+ venue Above The Stag Theatre, the creative team responsible for its famous and much-loved pantomimes are announcing their new company, He’s Behind You!, founded to continue to produce high quality, hilarious and heart-warming queer adult pantos for London.

He’s Behind You! has been formed by writers Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, director Andrew Beckett and regular dame Matthew Baldwin, with producer Oli Sones.

Widely acknowledged as a highlight of the winter theatre season and the most successful alternative pantomime series in the country, the team’s irreverent and inventive shows have played packed-out runs of more than 50 performances each year, building a large and loyal audience and winning critical acclaim, as well as praise from stars including Ian McKellen and Graham Norton.

He’s Behind You Ltd will announce its first production in due course. Theatre-goers can stay informed by signing up to its mailing list and social media accounts: and  @HBYPantos

JON BRADFIELD and MARTIN HOOPER, whose 12 pantomimes for Above The Stag Theatre include their most recent hit Dick Whittington: A New Dick in Town, said: “We never feel prouder than when we get introduced to people as ‘the guys that write the Above The Stag pantomime’. We’ve been lucky to be part of the theatre’s story since its earliest incarnation in a room above a pub, and we’re among the many people who will miss it. Our thoughts are with anyone losing work, a place to create and entertain, or simply a venue that they loved to visit. We have been blessed with a theatre and collaborators who have taken our silliness seriously and thrown everything at the pantos; and thousands of audience members who, in the main, have refrained from throwing anything and who have made our shows a joyous annual ritual to share with friends, colleagues, partners and families. We can’t wait to take them on our next adventure with our new company, He’s Behind You.”

Director ANDREW BECKETT says: “As a long-time collaborator of Above the Stag, I’m immensely proud of everything the theatre has stood for and achieved. It’s been a particular privilege to direct the pantomime for the last 10 years. But the adventure doesn’t end here, I’m delighted that the launch of He’s Behind You will allow our popular panto to continue celebrating its unique brand of magic.”

Actor MATTHEW BALDWIN says: “Pantomime Dame’ was never mentioned in my school careers department. It was ATS that first gave me the chance, which has been life changing and life affirming. I am beyond excited for this new part of our journey with He’s Behind You and of course, somebody needs to keep order when you’re all a bit squiffy! See you there!”

Producer OLI SONES says: “I have been a huge fan of the Above the Stag pantos for many years. I can’t wait to work with Jon, Martin, Andrew and Matthew to bring their clever, unique (and naughty!) pantos to loyal and new audiences alike”

About the team:

Jon Bradfield & Martin Hooper, writers:

For over a decade, Jon and Martin’s pantomimes for adults have played to packed houses at Above The Stag Theatre, placing queer characters front and centre in irreverent reinventions of popular fairytales, myths and legends. 11 of their scripts are publishedin the book He’s Behind You: 11 Gay Pantomimes.  In recent years, Jon has also written original songs for the shows. They have also written two comic musicals and a play. Jon was the lead writer on Cinderella: A Drag Pantomime at Trafalgar Studios starring RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Baga Chipz and Veronica Green, which was voted Studio 1 Show of the Decade in an online poll. He wrote Missing Alice, an acclaimed episode of Mark Gatiss’ BBC anthology series Queers; and his new play Animal, developed with Josh Hepple, won the inaugural Through The Mill Prize and was shortlisted for the Papatango Prize. It will be produced by Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre next year.

Matthew Baldwin, dame:

Matthew has appeared in seven Above The Stag pantomimes; in two seasons of family panto at the Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple; and in the nude in 46 Beacon at the Hope Theatre, Islington. At Trafalgar Studios he performed The Act, a play for one actor which he wrote with Thomas Hescott. It was made into a short film starring Samuel Barnett. He and Tom also wrote Outings, which enjoyed a successful run at Edinburgh featuring Simon Callow, Mark Thomas, Jim Davidson and many others. It also toured and was performed at the Lyric Theatre in the West End. Matthew starred in The Dark Room, a short film by Cinema Hades, opposite David Mitchell and Miles Jupp. He wrote “I Miss The War”, an episode of Queers for BBC4, directed and curated by Mark Gatiss. It was also performed at the Old Vic. Matthew recently appeared in Riviera (Sky Atlantic), the Michael Winterbottom movie Greed alongside Steve Coogan (BBC), Eastenders (BBC) and Season 3 of The Crown (Netflix). Last year he curated Contact, a festival of new work at for Above The Stag Theatre from a diverse range of emerging artists from across the LGBTQ+ community.

Andrew Beckett, Director

Andrew is a former artistic director of Above The Stag Theatre, for which among many productions he directed ten pantomimes, as well as Grindr: The Opera, his production of which won Best Musical at the Off West End Awards; and an acclaimed revival of Jonathan Harvey’s Boom Bang-A-Bang. Other directing includes Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat at the Turbine Theatre; a tour of Agatha Christie’s Spider Web; Handbagged, Wuthering Heights and Joking Apart for Theatre Royal, Windsor; and a host of classic plays for Paul Taylor-Mills’ rep seasons.

Oli Sones, Producer

Oli Sones is a theatre producer whose work has been seen in the UK and internationally. His London producing credits include A Chorus Line at the London Palladium; 46 Beacon at The Hope Theatre and Trafalgar Studios; Taken at Midnight at the Theatre Royal Haymarket; the Brontë rock musical Wasted at the Southwark Playhouse; Another America and Dark Tourism at the Park Theatre and The Donkey Show at Proud Camden. His international work includes touring Chicago, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Hairspray, which have played across South-East Asia; Fame the Musical at the prestigious Grimaldi Forum in Monaco; Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease and Evita for Ljubljana International Festival, Slovenia; A Chorus Line at the Tel Aviv Opera and Dame Joan Collins’ Unscripted which has toured internationally and around the UK.

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