Tony has been a showman for over 35 years – researching and implementing British popular entertainment forms in a wide variety of contexts throughout the country. Founder and performer of the last-remaining professional seaside pierrot troupe “The Pierrotters”, he has performed at countless resorts and events and as his alter ego “Uncle Tacko!”, he opened the National Theatre of Variety at Blackpool Grand Theatre & Opera House and was invited to meet Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on behalf of all seaside entertainers.
Tony started his professional career in Brighton 1983 with his first theatre company – the highly acclaimed “Bright Red Theatre”, before moving to Yorkshire to become Fellow in Theatre at Bradford University. He worked with luminary companies such as Welfare State International, Major Road Theatre Company and Opera North and directed large, spectacular community projects such as The Wakefield Mystery Cycle, The Brighton Town Plays, Bradford – the Musical and Dancing with The Wildman. These large projects culminated in Tony directing the opening ceremony of The World Gymnastics at Birmingham Indoor Arena. Subsequently, he became artistic director of Wakefield Opera House, before setting-up Promenade Promotions (Prom-Prom) Limited in 2003.
Tony is a well-respected authority on British popular entertainment forms and works with many academic institutions and archives, before applying his research to contemporary performance contexts and broadcasting. His Radio 4 series on Max Wall was selected as Pick of the Week by Radio 4 (“a masterclass in comedy”) and the series on Joey Grimaldi and Dan Leno were then painstakingly recreated as remarkable live performances which toured throughout the country. He has appeared on several episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? most recently for Lee Mack and David Walliams.
Tony has produced, written and directed pantomimes for many historic venues: Leeds City Varieties, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Wakefield Theatre Royal & Opera House, Liverpool Everyman, the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond and Exeter Northcott.
He is now based in Devon. In 2017 Tony was awarded a Doctorate from Exeter University for his research into itinerant British performance forms. Tony continues to teach as a part-time lecturer on the Drama course at Exeter. Tony is also an Accredited Lecturer of The Arts Society.
‘Showman’ is the nearest term he can find to ‘shaman’ – a spiritual guide, whose performative persona provides access to an alternative world.