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Cissie & Ada at The Broadway Theatre Barking

March 29, 2013

CISSIE & ADA: An Hysterical Rectomy

CandA-for-emails-reverse  Ciisie&Ada on the beach2

Wednesday night (27th March) saw the birth of a new play at Barking’s Broadway Theatre. It takes the audience backstage at the BBC to eavesdrop on the taping of the “Cissie & Ada” segment of Les Dawson’s shows.

Cissie, created by Roy Barraclough, and Ada- the creation of Les Dawson were placed in comic situations each week by writer Terry Ravenscroft. Whether at the beach, in the Doctor’s waiting room, or visiting an art gallery where Ada would make an exhibition of herself, these  two ladies brought the full force of Music Hall and Pantomime to bear on the Television viewers who tuned in their many millions for almost a decade.

Cissie & Ada2  cissie-head-lo-res  ada-head-lo-res

This play by Graham Warrener, directed by John-Jackson-Almond and produced by Chris Mellor  for “The Broadway” and “Cutting The Strings”- has Eric Potts as Ada/Les, Steve Nallon as Cissie/Roy, Steven Arnold as writer Terry, and Natasha Magigi as Sandra the Ex Rada actress who is their dresser and later wardrobe Mistress.

Barking Broadway have an innovative way of spreading the word- they are streaming the play live each performance. The operator is Valmar Kass. Grateful thanks to Valmar Kass for the production photographs shown here.

Eric Potts as Les Dawson - Ada

The late great Les Dawson was one of the most popular Pantomime Dames in the country. A great admirer of Norman Evans, he brought the “Over The Garden Wall” style back into panto, and was greatly loved by audiences each year. Roy Barraclough MBE is one of the country’s top panto performers- both as Dame and as Ugly Sister- he and Les shared a rapport and a timing that can be glimpsed on the you tube extracts of some of their sketches.

Opening night saw a busy foyer at the Broadway- and the world of pantomime was represented in the audience with Anna Karen, Isobel Hurll, Bobby Crush, Andrew Ryan and two Ellacott Brothers! Isobel worked with Les Dawson on his Yorkshire TV series- the era just before this play is set. “Cissie & Ada” takes places when Les Dawson moved to the BBC.

Steve Nallon as Roy and Eric Potts as Les 2    Steve Nallon as Roy Barraclogh - Cissie

Pantomime is also well represented in the performers- Eric Potts of course appears as Dame and writes for First Family each year- this season he will be appearing at Manchester Opera House with Ashleigh and Pudsey.  Eric is known to audiences from his role in Coronation   Street as Diggory Compton.

Steve Nallon has yet to play Panto Dame- however his razor sharp impression of Margaret Thatcher on TV’s “Spitting Image” gave him a huge fan base. He also voiced The Queen Mother, Roy Hattersley and David Attenborough among others, and has worked in theatre roles ranging from Homer’s Odyssey to The Rocky Horror Show at Leicester. More about Steve’s career can be found at www.nallon.com

Chatting to Steve after the show I discovered he had worked with Peter Robbins several times, and recalled a conversation he’d had in one of the studios with Peter about the difference between Dame and Sister. Hopefully the lure of Panto will draw him in very shortly!

Steven Arnold as Terry (800x534)  SezLes1

Steven Arnold – the writer Terry in this production- also hails from the cobbled streets of Coronation   Street”, having played Ashley Peacock” for fifteen years. Recently he has been appearing in pantomime at York, Southsea and Torquay as Dandini and in the title role in “Aladdin”. He has recently appeared in panto with my mate Britt Ekland and with Lyn McGrainger.

Natasha Magigi as Sandra

Natasha Magigi trained at Rose Bruford and recently appeared in the Christmas show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and has several television credits to her name. She plays an actress, recently graduated from RADA who joins the BBC as dresser on “The Les Dawson Show”, and her character remains with Cissie and Ada during their tenure at the BBC.

Natasha Magigi as Sandra Eric Potts as Les and Steve Nallon as Roy (1) (800x533)

There is a fascinating insight into the world of variety in this play- a scene where “Les” and “Roy” discuss Blackpool with “Terry” the writer. Well researched and with great humour they talk about the great names of variety at Blackpool’s summer shows- Frank Randall- an excellent anecdote about his eccentric behaviour backstage- along with  Hylda Baker, (an uncanny vocal impersonation by Steve Nallon here!) , and Morecambe and Wise.

Cissie & Ada runs at the Barking Broadway theatre until April 6th. There are some future tour dates ahead. Blackpool Grand, home of variety will host “Cissie & Ada” in June, for more information see:

http://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/shows/performance/cissie-ada

Prior to “Cissie & Ada”, Panto star Damian Williams will bring his show about “Being Tommy Cooper” to this Blackpool theatre. Information at:

http://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/shows/performance/being-tommy-cooper

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