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Cathedral, “Notre-Dame de Paris”. Ablaze!!!

NOTRE DAME DE PARIS PHOTO 3  “Our Lady of Paris” on the Ile de la Cité.

By now you must have gathered that I love France, especially Paris.

The Ile de la Cité is usually referred to by Parisians as the center of Paris. As well as being surrounded by the river Seine. Notre-Dame de Paris, which is also called “Our Lady” is still in use today by the Roman Catholic Church for Sunday Mass. Not only does Notre-Dame capture the heart of just the Catholic Church it also includes every Religion, even the most Agnostic person cannot be moved by its Majestic Gothic Architecture and History. This is the way I remember her, and now I am suddenly saddened, shocked, and devastated!

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This is the way I remember Notre-Dame from the 1950’s to early 60’s.

Few travelers and tourists visiting Paris, France, realize the famous Cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris is actually situated on an island.  I recall sitting at one of the many Restaurants there on the Ile, when I was filming “Metro Pigalle” I think it must have been the late 50’s. I was taken there by my actor friend Roland Bourdin brother of the famous Lise Bourdin, actress and model, and one time girl friend of Prince Aly Khan.

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Lise Bourdin

We were there with Jean Weber who was the leading actor of the Comedie Francaise. The three of us sat on this enchanted Ile late into the night. We went there for a light dinner after going to the Comedie Francaise to see “Poil de Carotte” followed by “Le Malade Imaginaire” in which Jean played the title role. 

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Jean Weber

Roland had taken me  to the Comedie Francaise, which had left me in awe with its style, tradition and beautiful way they had of speaking the French Language. All this is really another story. Just like me to digress! Forgive me, dear reader.

Back to Notre Dame de Paris.

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Notre-Dame on the Ile de la Cité

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The Ile de la Cité by Night.

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                    The wonderful and beautiful Notre-Dame de Paris

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Notre-Dame with scaffolding for its present day restoration. Pre. Fire!

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So on Monday 15th.April 2019, I was devastated by the news of the fire that almost completely destroyed Notre-Dame de Paris.

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Notre-Dame Ablaze!

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Notre-Dame going from this, to this!!!

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Tragedy has struck, and the cherished Notre-Dame de Paris is in semi ruins. At present it is a mere shadow of its former self.  But be strong you Parisiens, from the ashes and the wreckage, will rise a new, more beautiful Cathedral.                            

Notre-Dame de Paris will never die. As you see among the debris the Golden Cross still stands.  So will Notre-Dame de Paris.

So will Paris!  Viva la France!

The Cross, is already a sign.

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Posted by on April 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

” The Great Thomsoni ” dies at 84. A Tribute to Johnny Thompson.

Johnny Thompson

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The Death of a Great Magician and Friend.

Today I was deeply saddened by the news of the death of Johnny Thompson.

I consider Johnny and Pam as two of my friends, and Pamela must be lost without him.

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 “The Great Thomsoni and Pam” 

I first met “The Great Thomsoni and Pam” when I was starring in the show at the Scala Melia Castilla in Madrid.

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The show was on the same lines as the Lido in Paris. Including ice rink, swimming pool, lifts, in fact the lot! You name it, we had it. So as with the Lido in Paris, the star also appeared in the two main principal production numbers as well as doing my own Act.  One of these numbers included an audience participation comedy number with myself and also the comedy speciality magic act on a motor bike who had a spot in the show.

Before Johnny and Pam arrived I did the number, which I  used to dread with a cSpanish (so called) Comedy magician who, fortunately for me, got the sack.

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Johnny and his Doves

Then “The Great Thomsoni” arrived! He was known as the Polish Magician and, low and behold, the ‘Good Fairy’ was looking down on me. Johnny and Pam were here! We rehearsed and it was like magic! I have never ever enjoyed working with another magician so much in all my life as I did with Johnny Thompson. Every night was a joy! It was such fun! He was the kindest, most generous artist you could ever wish to work with. We clicked working together from the very first moment and it just lasted. We became great friends. Their own act was a riot, with laughs all the way.

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Johnny and Pam

Most nights after the late show, Johnny and Pam would come to our apartment ,which was opposite the Scala Melia Castilla, for dinner. Ray would cook a variety of dishes, their favorite was his Roast Lamb with baked potatoes. Ray was a superb cook.

The last time that I saw Johnny and Pam was just after Ray had died and I wasn’t really good company for them. They were in London where they had just done a Gala for Magicians, and were now on their way back to Las Vegas.  We had lunch together and then we went to the National Portrait Gallery.  That was many years ago, but we always stayed in touch by email (very handy). Still after all those years we remained friends.

To try and describe Johnny’s act with Pam would not do him justice. 

The act had starred in Las Vegas productions such as the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino and the Lido de Paris at the Stardust Hotel and Casino.

“The Great Thomsoni” toured Internationally, performing at the London Palladium, the Theatre Princess Grace in Monte Carlo, Le Cabaret at the Casino in Monte Carlo, the Casino Ruhl in Nice, France, and the Scala Melia Castilla in Madrid, Spain.

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Here is the link for you to be able watch a Master at Work.

Classical comedy magic act…. AMAZING Disappearing Magic Trick IMPRESSES  Magic!

God Bless you Johnny! ‘Rest in Peace’

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Mark Canter, England’s Erté without a doubt!

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Mark Canter

Mark Canter came into our lives many years ago when Danny Carroll (later Danny La Rue) brought him into “Heaven and Hell” for a coffee. Ray and I found him very quiet because Danny did most of the talking, as usual. But through the years we slowly got to know him and realized the wonderful talent he had for designing and creating costumes, and also his amazing wit, humour, and fun for life. This was all prior to the “Casino de Paris” days.  We were just two actors who ran “Heaven and Hell Coffee Bar” in Old Compton Street.

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To my mind, Mark was England’s Erté, a costume designer ‘par excellence’. His costume designs made Danny La Rue look as though he really had star quality and talent; far, far more than he really actually had. When you were to compare him up against the likes of Sonne Teal and Ricky Renee, truthfully, there was no comparison. 

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From the drawing board to the finished costume

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Mark was such a very clever and witty man. He would always have us in stitches. Oh, how we would laugh! My friend Joe Castle played such a big part in Mark’s life for many years. They were together until Mark passed away.

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Mark and Joe

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A Costume Design for Barbara Windsor.

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I was very lucky to have Mark design each and every costume for me for “ZEE & Co”.

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Mark, Ken Dodd and Joe in my dressing room in Liverpool.

Mark had designed all the costumes for my act. The photo above is when he and Joe came to the Adelphi Theatre to see the show. Basically, Ken Dodd gave me my chance at that time, and I stayed with him for almost a year. Ken had never seen costumes like them before. He was flabbergasted, as he so often mentioned to me. I am so grateful to Mark Canter and his costumes, which were completely black and silver for “Zee & Co.” They all contributed a great deal to my act becoming an international attraction through-out the world.

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Black velvet, beaded with diamanté

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A Mark Canter Creation for our appearance in “Dick Whittington” at the London Palladium.  He stuck to the black and silver theme which was part of our act. I insisted that Mark Designed my costumes, and they agreed!  “Quelle suprise!”

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A few more of Mark’s Designs

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When Danny opened his Club in Hanover Square, Mark designed all his costumes. As Danny’s star rose, so did Mark’s, but the strangest thing was that Danny, and also his partner Jack Hanson, never ever gave Mark the full credit that he so rightfully deserved. If a reporter or the BBC wanted to interview Mark, Jack or Danny would always make up an excuse that made it impossible for the interview to take place.  This was a regular occurrence. Somehow. they never wanted Mark to get his rightful credit. Were they frightened that they might have lost him if he became too famous? The costumes that Mark designed for Danny were stunning!

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Another Mark Canter Costume

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Apart from designing for Danny, Mark also designed for Barbara Windsor and Shirley Bassey and Diana Dors, and a whole Jewish and Arab contingency for which all the dresses were made by Darnell of London, one of the top Houses in its day. And the dresses cost an arm and a leg.  Also, for a short time Mark branched out into the Fresh Meat business by designing costumes for us at the Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club. He’d never seen so many tits in all his life! We did a Shakespearean edition on Shakespeare’s 400th Centenary, for which Mark designed the costumes. They were fantastic, true to the period, and, remember, they all had to come off in pieces!  Oh how we laughed at dress rehearsals. I remember one instance in particular When I produced a Dracula number (If I didn’t know about Dracula who should?). I had already had such trouble with the Gold Brothers when I told them that I was going to use a coffin on stage. The pair of them nearly died! (Then I would have needed two coffins!) No way were they going to have a coffin on stage at the “Casino de Paris”. So, I compromised and made up a frame and covered it in black velvet. It looked exactly like a coffin and it kept the Golds happy. With all the hassle I had with the brothers, I forgot to tell Mark a few things. Come dress rehearsal, I said, ”This is where she picks up the crucifix and the stake.’ From the back of the stools, I heard a loud scream. It was Mark. ‘What crucifix? What stake?  Eric, why the fuck didn’t you tell me beforehand?  You tell me now?’ But, Mark being Mark, within half an hour there was crucifix, and a stake. That was Mark, he could cope with anything. Oh, how we would laughed later that evening! I would always say,  ‘What crucifix? What stake?’  Of course, they both finished up starkers in the coffin in the end! No!!! Not Mark and the Golds! (Although it would have been interesting because rumour had it that Elliott Gold was built like a donkey!)  No!  But, Dracula and Audrey Crane, his lady disciple. Oh, how we laughed that day!

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Mark and Ray, forever the Actor!

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I remember one story Mark used to relate. He took his gold watch that he had bought at Kuchinsky’s (a very fashionable jewellers in the 60s) in Knightsbridge back to be repaired because there was a slight problem with the movement, which needed adjusting. After being allowed in by the uniformed guard, because the front door was always locked. Too many robberies! The young man behind the counter removed his eyeglass after examining the gold watch thoroughly. He hummed and hawed a little, and said to Mark, ‘You know the watch is quite a few years old and really it’s not in its first bloom of youth.’  Quick as a button Mark replied,  ‘Neither am I, but I’m not ready for the scrap heap yet!’ With that, he swept out the shop, with gold watch in hand, leaving the poor salesman with egg on his face for thinking he might have talked Mark into swapping the watch for a new model. The guard quickly opening the door in case Mark let his vent out on him!  That was the wit of Mark Canter, he always had an answer!

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Mark and Ray. “Halcyon Days”

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A Mark Canter Chinese creation

When I had my show, “Zee’s Summer Magic”, for John Redgrave Productions in the Isle of White, Mark Canter designed a complete set of Chinese costumes for my Chinese sequence for the whole company. This is just one of the costumes. There were too many to mention.

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Another Mark Canter Design from the drawing board to creation

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Another Mark Canter Creation

Danny La Rue was known for his costumes, which were all the creations of Mark Canter, but really Danny was just the clothes horse! They were all the genius that was Mark Canter,and long may they flourish!

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Mark was such a very clever man, with such a razor sharp wit. He would always have us in stitches. Oh, how we would laugh!

“God Bless You Mark.” Never Forgotten!

What Crucifix? What stake? Have the laugh on me, Mark!

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 This design is not Mark Canter’s. It’s from the Ivy Restaurant menu, which I purloined, (being very theatrical), but I thought it would round off the blog very nicely.

N.B.   I have removed the Marlene Dietrich photos for the time being , until I find the Mark Canter ones.

 

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I Lost The Plot!

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

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When I was in New York with Angie, she tried to get tickets for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, but they were like gold dust and those that were for sale from the “ticket scalpers” cost an arm and a leg.  ‘So, I told her to forget it!’ We went to see “The Boys in the Band” and “Anastasia” instead.

Well, imagine my surprise when I was in London one day and by chance happened to pass the Box Office of the Palace Theatre and thought, ‘I’ll chance it!’

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I went in and asked the young man in the Box Office if by chance there was a ticket for either a Wednesday or Saturday when Parts 1 and 2 were performed on the same day.

‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘you’re out of luck.’ (Long pause, while he studies the computer screen.  Then! Another, long pause)  All this time I’m holding my breath! ‘But I do have by chance, a return for same seat 3rd row, Grand Circle. (Posh name for the Upper Circle!)  ‘It’s a good seat! For 2 consecutive nights. Part 1 on Thursday and Part 2 on Friday.’  Before he’d finished talking!  ‘I’ll take them!’ I said.

So I left the theatre as happy as Larry, even though I was going to sit in the Upper Circle! I was going to see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”! The critics both in London and New York raved about the play.

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Security Notice for everyone.

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The jam packed crowds waiting and queuing to get into the theatre.

On the Thursday night, I did all that was necessary, queuing at the side of the theatre, going through the barrier, and bag searched before entering the theatre. Then I took my place 3rd row Grand Circle and it was as he said, ‘A good seat!’ I could see everything. Part 1 was about to start.

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The programme for both nights.

No! I’m not going to tell you the story! That is a No! No!  You have to see the play.  All I can say is that the play, the staging, in fact the whole production is quite brilliant. Amazing, and I couldn’t wait to see Part 2 the next day.

On the Friday I had already arranged to have lunch with Joe Castle at Joe Allen’s in Covent Garden, and over a bottle of Pino Grigio.  We talked about the “good old days” and about his partner, Mark Canter, who had sadly passed away.

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Happier times.

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Joe Castle and Mark Canter

To my mind, Mark was England’s Erté, a costume designer par excellence. His costume designs made Danny La Rue look as though he really had star quality and talent; far more than he actually had. When you were to compare him up against the likes of Sonne Teal and Ricky Renee, there was no comparison.  Mark was such a very clever and witty man. He would always have us in stitches. Oh, how we would laugh! As a matter of fact, I have to do a blog on Mark alone, with photos, costumes and his designs.

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Mark Canter

We talked about Ray Jackson, my partner, who I lost at such an early age. It’s practically 30 years since he died, and I’m still here. Unfortunately! Also all the wonderful times we all had together. We laughed a lot and had a wonderful lunch, and to finish it off we had coffee and another large glass each of Pino Grigio. I told him I was seeing Part 2 of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in the evening, which I couldn’t wait to see because the plot and also the staging was so brilliant. Oh! We had a great time!

After lunch, which was a joy, Joe said he would take me to Balthazar, a restaurant in Covent Garden, to see his friend Brian Silva, who happens to be one of the top barmen in the business and runs the bar in the restaurant.  There we each had a large glass of champagne and Brian gave me his wonderful book of cocktails called “BRIAN SILVA Mixing in the Right Circles at the BALTHAZAR”. Brian told us to wait whilst he sorted his staff out because he was coming off duty and he wanted to take us for a drink. Another!!! I explained that I had to be at the Palace Theatre to go through security by about 6pm, so it could only be a short one. Ha! Ha! ‘No problem!’, he said. ‘You’ll have plenty of time.’ So off we trotted to a great open-air bar near the Palace Theatre, and the three of us had each a very large glass of white wine. By this time I was quite merry and we said our goodbyes, and I went on my way.

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Well!!! (pause)  I duly queued and they searched my bag again and they let me into the theatre. There I was back in my old seat 3rd row Grand Circle (Upper Circle in the good old days!). Basically, it seemed, there was the same crowd that had been there the night before. The same guy sitting next to me on my left.

Part 2 of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” duly started and I was intrigued with the story. Then everything seemed to fly by me in flashes. I’m not sure whether I fell asleep or just nodded off. I couldn’t have snored otherwise the guy next to me would have nudged me to wake up. But anyway, I think I woke up at the interval, and I really couldn’t tell what had happened in the first part. I’d really and truly lost the fucking plot. So I spent the rest of the time when the second part started trying to figure out what had happened in the first part. I finished up none the wiser. I was well and truly fucked and pissed. I really haven’t a clue about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Part 2, which means that I have to go back to the theatre and try to book just for Part 2 again!

Next time I will definitely not have lunch beforehand!

 

 

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Trying to control the Water Works!

Don’t get me wrong! I don’t mean those nightly waterworks, when you don’t know whether to stand or sit in the Loo forever or just return to bed! No, not those Waterworks, I mean from the eyes! Tears, crying.

I’ve already written about some of my ‘Great Moments in the Theatre’ that I remember. Well, here are a few tearful ones.

I simply mean the flood of tears that I have been subjected to ever since childhood. When I’ve read a really sad book, seen an even sadder Play or Film, or heard a piece of Classical Music or even listened to some of the Dramas that Mrs. Dale went through! I’ve been reduced to tears. I become so involved in the plot, that I’m either reading through tears, or watching whatever through a haze!

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When I read that Carousel was going to open at the Coliseum in July 2017. The thought of the plot upsets me just thinking and writing about it, and what with that and also the music!!!  Well!!! There was no way that I could possibly see the production without the flood gates opening! It is the saddest and most brilliant Musical I’ve ever seen. I won’t go and see it again because I would embarrass myself crying in anticipation of crying!.

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The Original “Carousel” programme

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I only have the original programme. All the publicity, photos, etc., come from the current 2017 production.

In 1950 my friend George Harris invited me to see at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane the new production of “Carousel” that had just opened from America. He wasn’t flush with money, so all he could really afford were 2 Gallery Seats. But I was very happy to be asked. If you have ever sat in the Gallery at the Theatre Royal, it’s like a kilo-metre from the stage, so all the performers look minute? The Musical was adapted from the French Play “Lilliom” by Ferenc Molnar. Rogers and Hammerstein had the rights for a Musical of the play, and I already knew the plot ‘vaguely’, as it was part of the Repertoire of the Comedie Francaise which I saw, when they performed for a season at the Saville Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue in French. But I wasn’t completely ‘au fait’ with what was happening and got a little confused.

But the Musical that was something else! It was Magical! Allthis from up in the Gallery! You have already gathered that I am a total Theatre and Film enthusiast, or Nut is an easier word! Usually, whatever I see I usually become completely absorbed in. Unless it is the pits, then I leave. The Music alone for Carousel is wonderful, and the plot. Oh! The plot! The plot revolves around Billy Biglow a Carousel Barker. Well!!!  In Act 1, I was fine, after all I was sitting miles away from the Stage, up in the Gallery, and it was only a Musical with wonderful music and with little actors, and then Billy Biglow the leading man dies.

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Alfie Boe and Nicholas Lyndhurst as the “Starkeeper”

Come Act 2. Fifteen years after his death Billy Biglow goes to Heaven after years in purgatory and there he meets the Star-keeper, and is told that before he could enter Heaven he had to redeem himself on earth and is granted permission to return to earth for a day to make amends to his widow and their daughter, and he steals a Star to take with him.  ‘Get ready for it!’

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(Of course, the whole thing is pure fantasy. But it didn’t matter) He goes to earth in human form and meets his daughter who is about 15yrs. old. But he frightens her when he offers her the Star, and she gets scared and refuses it, and losing his temper he slaps her and she runs away. Knowing he has lost his chance, he leaves the Star on the bench in the yard of their house. All this time the Starkeeper is with him, and by this time Billy has become invisible.

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Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe

Julie his widow enters when she hears her daughter cry out. She comforts her daughter and then she sees the Star on the bench, and she knows that Billy has been there. Well! The sight of her sitting there holding the Star and he at her side invisible, singing of his love for her. It was just too much. I cried buckets! And remember I was up in the Gallery. So there is no way that I could possibly sit through “Carousel” dry eyed. The thought of the Bench, Star, Julie, the Singing, and the Music, and I’m away!

N.B. Couldn’t find any photos or publicity from the original production. So I used the current ones.

Now a Film that left me sobbing my heart out, and the bloody lights went up in the Theatre! And we all stood there whilst they played “God Save he Queen”. shaming me terribly, with my horrible red swollen eyes!

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Jennifer Jones and Gregory Peck

Beautiful half-breed Pearl Chavez becomes the ward of her dead father’s first love and  goes to live with distant relatives a Senator and his two sons in Texas. Almost at once, already existing family tensions are exacerbated by her presence and the way she is physically drawn to Lewt the elder son. One night, Lewt forces Pearl and she submits to him and she becomes ashamed and angry with Lewt. However the Senator expels his sons from the ranch and when Jesse is going to say goodbye to Pearl, he finds Lewt in her room. Jesse leaves Pearl behind and Lewt promises to marry her; but when she learns his real intention, she believes she is a trash and becomes her lover. Lewt and Jesse have a duel to win Pearl. Lewt wins, as usual, but Jesse survives. Lewt sends word to Pearl for her to see him before he slips across into Mexico. Pearl realizes that Lewt will one day try again to kill Jesse. She meets him in the mountains and shoots Lewt and is then shot by Lewt.

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Lewt, as he’s dying, professes his love for Pearl. Pearl, also shot, struggles to get to the dying Lewt and they die in each others arms.

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WELL!!!  The two of them dragging themselves to one another, was just too much for me. I cried buckets! Then the bloody lights came up, of all times “God Save the Queen”! I left the Haymarket Cinema with a handkerchief over my face. Until I became presentable.  This is just a rough synopsis of the plot, which was far more complicated, but is was just the two of them dragging themselves to die together in each-others arms, was too much for me!!!

Now for another one!

In 1960, Ray, and Mark Canter the Costume Designer and I, went to America for the first time. We did the full tour. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans and then back to New York. 2 months total in all.  In New York we saw so many shows and as we were in the Striptease Business, we saw every Burlesque Show going, this happened wherever we went much to Marks chagrin! As he remarked, ’They were all the same and very tacky’ and he was right! Still Ray and I thought we had to see them just in case we missed something. But they were all very tired and tacky! 

In New York apart from many shows, we saw this ‘piece de resistance’ at the Playhouse Theatre on Broadway  “The Miracle Worker” starring Anne Bankroft and Patty Duke.

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The Fabulous Anne Bankcroft.

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A Beautiful Painting that I had to include of  Anne Bankroft.

The  play, “The Miracle Worker”, is set in the 1880’s. In Tsucumbia, Alabama. It follows the Keller family and their struggles with their daughter Helen who is, blind and deaf after suffering a terrible fever as a baby, young Helen Keller (Patty Duke) has spent years unable to communicate, leaving her frustrated and occasionally violent.  As a last chance before she is institutionalized, her parents) contact a school for the blind, which sends half-blind Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft) to teach Helen.

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Anne Bankroft as the half blind Annie Sullivan.

Pitied and badly spoiled by her parents, Helen is taught no discipline and, by the age of six, grows into a wild, angry, tantrum-throwing child in control of the household.

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Helen is initially resistant, but Annie gradually forms a bond with her and shows Helen ways of reaching others. After several fierce battles with Helen, Annie convinces the Kellers that she needs two weeks alone with Helen in order to achieve any progress in the girl’s education.

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In that time, Annie teaches Helen discipline through persistence and consistency and language through hand signals, a double breakthrough that changes Helen’s life and has a direct effect on the lives of everyone in the family.

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Helen says The Lords Prayer

Well, when she speaks slowly the ‘Lords Prayer’ the flood gates opened! It was so moving. This time I wasn’t the only one crying , Ray had started as well!

Then the bloody House Lights came on!  Those fucking House Lights!  I can’t win and just cry in the dark. Fuck it! That’s the cross I have to bare!

Anyway enough tears for the moment. Merry Christmas to you all and, God Bless You.

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The real Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan

(Rare!) Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan (1930 Newsreel … – YouTube

Jun 27, 2009 – Uploaded by transformingArt

Quite a rare material. Helen Keller, the American author, political activist and lecturer, whom I don’t have to …

Now you know the story, you can hear her talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“There’s no Business like Show Business” the London Theatre Scene, June and July 2018

The London theatre Scene in June and July seemed to be pleasantly busy. The norm for most shows is a 3 month run, so the scene is constantly changing. Those shows that have a fairly good success rate usually transfer to New York and play on or off Broadway with a similar run

“Strictly Ballroom”

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For all you TV. Junkies who are glued to the screen to watch “Strictly Come Dancing”, this is the show for you.

It’s fun. it’s colorful, it’s got music you know, and dance to. And it’s got tons of energy and they never stop dancing! Cha! cha! cha!

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“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”

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This show is bound to go to AMERICA. They will love it in NEW YORK, in fact all over the USA.

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I had a seat in the 2nd Row of the stalls, and talking to a lady by my side and one in the front row, they told me ‘They had seen the Show 5 times!’.  First of all when they said ‘5 times’ I thought they were off their heads. Then I thought, ‘it must be good!’, and it was, amazing! Jamie’s ambition is to be a Drag Queen and the plot goes from there. Oh! They will so love it in New York.

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If you get a chance go see it. You don’t have to go 5 times, just once is enough! But it is great, and a cast that is magical!

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John McCrea and Josie Walker

I have to mention in particular from the fabulous cast, Josie Walker who plays Jamie’s Mother. Singing with a voice to die for, the Heart Rendering song “He’s My Boy”! Which apart from receiving a standing ovation, brought the audience to tears.

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Shaftesbury Avenue Street Scene

“Imperium”

I saw “Imperium” from the book by Robert Harris that was based on the Cicero Novels, at the Gielgud Theatre (I’m old fashioned and I still call it ‘The Globe Theatre’). It is destined to be going to New York, it is so good. The play is in 2 parts, played alternate evenings. Or on Matinee days Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. Part 1 Matinee, and Part 2 Evening. So if you do both shows in a day it’s quite a marathon, and you finish up knackered!

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Anyway I decided to do it in 2 consecutive evenings.

This was an important History Lesson for me, because when I was at Parmiters Emergency Secondary Grammar School in London during World War ll and only allowed to go to school in the mornings, because of the Bombing and the Buzz Bombs, Doodle Bugs, etc., etc. etc. and spending most of that time sitting under the desk (alone) I missed out completely on Cicero. So by seeing the play I learnt a lot!

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Richard McCabe as Cicero

History was never my good subject and at Geography I was even worse!!!

I used to think that Wales was past Scotland! Latin was a no, no! Even though I learnt it for 3 yrs.

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But I could have told you every show that was on in the West End of London at the time, and also the stars the full cast and matinee days! But I digress. The cast of “Imperium” are superb and Cicero played by Richard McCabe is brilliant.

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 The last time I saw him was on Broadway with Helen Mirren in ”The Audience”, where he played Harold Wilson, and I was also at the Tony’s when he won and was awarded the ‘Tony’ for best supporting actor in a play, for his performance in said play. When “Imperium” goes to Broadway he will most probably pick up another Tony. He is that good. But if “Red” is also playing on Broadway, it’s going to be a toss-up between him and Alfred Molina.

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Old mates, sharing a joke. Helen Mirren and Richard McCabe.

Maybe they hadn’t seen each other since the “The Audience” in New York and had a lot of news to share, or that she had maybe seen Orlando Bloom’s arse in “Killer Joe”?

“Killer Joe”

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The last time I was at the Trafalgar Studios was for “The Maids” which was a brilliant piece of Theatre. The Direction by Jamie Lloyd was fantastic and the 2 Stars Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton, gave performances of perfection that I will never forget. The Trafalgar Studios is a very versatile theatre, that can produce shows with or without a proscenium arch, in the round, or double sided as they did in the “Maids”. This time it was an open stage in the shape of a U, and this time I was in A Row seat 1 at the top of the U, directly onto the floor of the Stage. So really you  could say I was in it. The set reminded me of “Tobacco Road” which I did with Ruth Dunning in 1949. How long ago that was! That was also about White Trash!  This play was set in a White Trash Trailer Park with a very good plot, as a matter of fact, it’s a very sexy comedy thriller.

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Orlando Bloom and Sophie Cookson

The cast to get on and off stage had to walk past me and out through the Exit in the Auditorium. I give you all these details because of what came later.

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 Orlando Bloom Starkers in the White Trash Trailer Park in “Killer Joe”!

The Theatre was full I wasn’t sure whether the audience had come to see Orlando Bloom in the Play or starkers in his Birthday Suit? Because it was so well publicized.  Every time one of the casts ran off in a blackout they would accidently knock into me, not their fault they just couldn’t see, and after all I was sitting in the bloody play. It was just a pity that when Orlando Bloom ran off in the Blackout he didn’t knock into me,  or with a bit of luck, fall into my lap! Oh! By the way, his performance was excellent, as were the rest of the cast. All that Trailer Trash!!! Quite an exciting play in more ways than one.

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By the way, look at Neve Mcintosh’s eye level?

I’m sure, from where I was sitting she happened to touch the Crown Jewels as she walked past him! All in good fun.  Also Neve Mcintosh appears completely starkers, pubes and all at the very beginning of the play. Took me back to the good old “Casino de Paris” days. Very educational. That’s when she opens the front door to Orlando Bloom. No wonder she eyed him as well when he was starkers!

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  “Tartuffe”

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I remember during World War ll at the Comedy Theatre on each monthly Sunday. The French Actors, who were in the French Resistance and had escaped to England, gave performances in French of Moliere’s Plays. I was seduced by the rhythm and rhyme of the wonderful Moliere language. They the actors were all I think from the Comedie Francaise, and also were in the French Resistance. Their official office was somewhere in London with General De Gaulle.

I was still at school and learning French (under the desk) but I wasn’t too good at it, but this was Theatre, in whatever language, with beautiful costumes, and in a language that sounded so civilized and eloquent, that I fell in love with it, even though it was in French!  The French language really, is such a truly beautiful language!  I would treasure these moments, when I would bunk into the Gallery without paying, once the show had started, and that was how I was introduced to Moliere. Let me tell you a little about Moliere.

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Tartuffe at the Comedie Francaise

 Many years later when I was a little more fluent in French, I saw Tartuffe at the Comedie Francaise in Paris, and loved it. The Comedie Francaise is a Theatre with a Company that has a tradition that is far too arduous for me to go into now, but the rhythm of Moliere’s dialogue is a thing of beauty.                                                             Google it! It explains everything.

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The Seduction  scene “Tartuffe” 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Molière, whose original name Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, (baptized January 15, 1622, Paris, France—died February 17, 1673, Paris), French actor and playwright, the greatest of all writers of French comedy.

Tartuffe, or The Impostor, or The Hypocrite, first performed in 1664, is one of the most famous theatrical comedies by Molière. The characters of Tartuffe, Elmire, and Orgon are considered among the greatest classical theatre roles.

A Short Analysis of Moliere’s Tartuffe:

Tartuffe is one of Molière’s masterpieces. The play was first performed as a three-act comedy in May 1664, and was immediately denounced for supposedly ‘attacking’ religion through its portrayal of the pious titular hypocrite, Tartuffe. The religious zealots who objected to the play eventually persuaded King Louis XIV (who had actually enjoyed the play) to have it banned. Sadly, this was not the last time religious people would take exception to comedy (and comedy that isn’t even poking fun at religion at all, but rather foolish devotion to a charlatan and impostor). Because of this early misinterpretation of Molière’s play, it is worth analysing Tartuffe more closely, to determine precisely what the play is saying about piety, hypocrisy, and gullibility.

The Comédie-Française or Théâtre-Français is one of the few State Theatres in France. It is the only State Theatre to have its own company of Actors. The company’s primary venue is the Salle Richelieu. The theatre is part of the Palais-Royal complex at 2 rue de Richelieu on the Place André-Malraux in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.

The theatre has also been known as the Théâtre de la République and La maison de Molière (English: House of Molière). It inherited the latter name from the troupe of the best-known playwright associated with the Comédie-Française, Molière. He was considered the patron of French actors. Unfortunately he died seven years before “La maison de Molière” was rechristened the “Comédie-Française.” and the company continued to be known popularly by the former name long after the official change of name.

The plot of Tartuffe is easy enough to summarise. We observe a man, Orgon, and his mother. Orgon has allowed himself to be duped by a fraud, Tartuffe, who hypocritically pretends to be pious and holier-than-thou, but is really a scoundrel who wishes to take advantage of the gullible Orgon. Orgon is prepared to marry his own daughter, Mariane, to Tartuffe, even though Mariane is in love with (and betrothed to) someone already. Although Orgon’s family try to make him see sense, he refuses to acknowledge that he has fallen under the spell of the roguish Tartuffe. His own son, Damis, even points out to Orgon that Tartuffe is trying to seduce Orgon’s own wife, Elmire.  But Orgon will hear nothing against the sainted Tartuffe. It is only when Tartuffe finally turns up on stage (not until Act 3) and Orgon, concealed under the table, observes Tartuffe’s attempted seduction of Elmire with his own eyes that he realises he’s been had by a rogue. He throws Tartuffe out of his house; Tartuffe tries to get his revenge by compiling a list of trumped-up charges against Orgon, in the hopes that Orgon will lose his house and Tartuffe will be given it instead. The plan almost works, but thankfully the King shows up, and, being a better judge of character than Orgon, recognises Tartuffe for the hypocritical cad that he is and has him arrested. Orgon’s property is restored. Everything ends happily, as you’d expect from a comedy.

All this information comes from Wikipedia and or Google, these 2 Websites are amazing! But I do not do the Social Media, that is a no, no for me!  If only I had Wikipedia and Google at my finger-tips when I was at school.  I wouldn’t have been such an idiot!  Of course I would have needed a computer, or maybe a laptop! Yes, that would have been better! I could have got that under the desk! Fat chance thou!  Still I digress, on with the story.

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Imagine my excitement when I saw that a Modern Version of “Tartuffe” adapted by Christopher Hampton and Directed by Gerald Garutti for the ‘First Ever West End Bilingual Theatre Company’, to be presented at one of the most beautiful of London’s West End Theatre’s, ‘The Theatre Royal, Haymarket’. The Theatre is a dream! As soon as I read this, I booked a ticket (Dress Circle, of course!)

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Oh, the excitement, I was going to see Moliere again! ‘Bilingual, well, that’s French and English! Interesting, very interesting!’ I thought. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. I finished up by the end of the show not knowing whether I was on my arse or my elbow! I was so confused. In fact confusion reigned and I had a splitting headache!

The cast were brilliant! They were completely bi-lingual! Their English impeccable! None of the z’is or z’at or z’ere!. Their French perfection! Well, it should be, after all they were French! The set and costumes were stunning, and oh! So, so, so modern!  Too modern!

Above the stage on the proscenium arch, was a long black box, which was the Subtitle Machine. So when a character spoke in French, the machine translated it into English, and the same English vice versa into French. When it was French it was Moliere, sort of! And when it was English it was Christopher Hampton who adapted it, and turned it into a complete fuck up! You didn’t know where to look, the Stage, the Box, the Cast, the Box, the Talking, the Box. I got so sick of the Bloody Poxy Box!  BUT IT WASN’T MOLIERE’S “TARTUFFE”!!!  Where were the heaving bosoms, where were the flouncy costumes? Moliere should never be taken out of his period, that’s what he wrote his comedies about. When they billed it as a comedy, that’s a laugh. I sat there po- faced the whole evening. These are my thoughts only, but I have just looked up some reviews for Tartuffe and I wasn’t wrong!

London Box Office.
Chief Critic:
Phil Willmott wrote:

“Tedious, pretentious and best avoided.”

And one from Michael Billington from the Guardian Newspaper says it all.

Michael Billington the Guardian Theatre Critic, who’s seen more shows than I have had hot dinners!  Wrote:

The Guardian

Tartuffe review – “This bilingual production squanders Molière’s wit and wisdom.”

2 / 5 stars 2 out of 5 stars.

Theatre Royal Haymarket, London.         Michael Billington

There, I’ve said it, and they’ve said it, we’ve all said it, and all said and done, subject closed! ‘On with the Show’!

 

 

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Mel Brooks and his London Stage Version of “Young Frankenstein”.

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I decided to see “Young Frankenstein” before it closed because I was enamored with the film, which I saw four times, and I think that Mel Brooks is a genius, a brilliant comic, a great writer, and a very clever film director. All that in just one small package which spells ‘MEL BROOKS’!

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Mel Brooks

Well I should have saved my money. The best thing about the Show was the Curtain.

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Nimax Theatres Ltd., I believe, is the company that owns the Garrick Theatre.

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 The Garrick Theatre

Instead of acquiring another theatre, as they seem to do like like a baby octopus, they should spend some of their shekels on cleaning up and refurbishing the Garrick Theatre. It is a disgrace! When you sit in the dress circle you expect the seats to be comfortable. Not at the Garrick! The padding has practically worn down to the wood, and those that are in a fairly good condition are even worse, because you can finish up with a spring hallway up your arse!

Last year when I saw Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon in “The Painkiller” at the Garrick, I sat in the dress circle, maybe it could have been the same seat, and finished up with arse ache!  That was a ‘Real Painkiller’ and how appropriate! What a pun that is!

Well, things haven’t improved!

The usherettes stand at the doorway chewing gum and selling programmes, and they do not move. They’re busy talking! and talking! and talking! I think it was about the boys make-up!  They are not interested in showing you to your seat. I was told ‘Row D, Centre!’ by he or she or it. I didn’t know what it was!  All I do know is that usherettes are supposed to usher, move their arses, and take you to your seat. Not stand in the entrance talking and chewing and looking very bored. No wonder the show is coming off!  Most probably they are in the same quandary as the audience because they also don’t know where the rows are. I entered the theatre and couldn’t see a bloody thing! Remember I’m 88, no spring chicken! After stumbling around I found Row D. The aisles and quite a few seats are not numbered. Just a few have faded numbers. So you finish up counting from a number you can see to find your seat.

Nimax Theatres Ltd., do the bloody theatre up!!!

‘This is a fine start to my evening’s enjoyment’, I thought.

The Show itself was not good or really that funny. It was more like a No.1 touring version of the original West End production. In fact, I’ve seen better in the provinces. All I could think was that when Mel Brooks saw it, he quickly collected his money and caught the next plane back to the U.S.A. Very wise!

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 I was so disappointed with the show that I left at the Interval.

I don’t blame the cast or the production. If the seats would have been comfortable and the usherettes would have done their job, maybe I would have seen the whole show from a different prospective

But I have to blame the two usherettes and Nimax Theatres Ltd., who started it all, and got me really pissed off, and put me into such a bad mood!!!  What a disaster!!!

I haven’t talked much about the show, because truthfully  there was nothing really  much of importance to talk about.

42nd STREET DRURY LANE.

NOW “42nd. Street” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. WOW!

That’s, what you call a Show!

I went from the ridiculous to the sublime! The show and the cast are fantastic! You just cannot fault it.

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With a cast of over 50, it is a gem and should run for years.

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I couldn’t believe that this was the same theatre that I played in when I was ‘ZEE and CO.” with Cannon and Ball when we made the T.V. Special so many, many, many years ago.

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Lulu was excellent, you couldn’t fault her.

I left the Theatre a very, very, very happy bunny!  That is what Show Business is all about!  Great Theatre! Wonderful memories of when I was working there. and seeing a wonderfully spectacular show.

 

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