Skip to content

Betty’s Blog Friday Night 24th January

January 25, 2014


Ship Ahoy! Tonight we had an evening performance, and a very jolly crew joining us. The front row had a party from Michigan USA. I believe it was their first glimpse at this curious British tradition of ours- ladies dressed as men, men dressed as ladies, human cats and rats, a plethora of dancing ladies and Vincent in his traditional long coat and big boots. They seemed to cope with it extremely well! In their honour I revived the old “American Dress” gag.. “One Yank And Its Off!”. If it was good enough for Eisenhower, its good enough for me. I love topical gags I do!


Also joining us in the audience was our fight director, and King Rat’s son, Ben Goffe. Good to see his beaming smile throughout. Only wish I’d been able to catch his panto at the Opera House this season- Manchester Opera House is a delight, and I had a great season there with Brian Conley a few years back. Ben’s “Dick Whittington” with Eric Potts as Sarah The Cook closed a few weeks ago.

Second day running Ellie has stopped me from trying to get into a Carmen Miranda frock when I should be a Deckchair. I have it firmly fixed in my brain as I dash off that I have a quick change- glad she’s the one to steer me right! Rusty’s costume is acquiring additions each day. He has a rat trap on his tail and several of his minor rodents appearing on his top hat and jacket. There will be a global shortage of rubber rats at this rate..

Even found time to put Andrew Robley in the chair and titivate his wig. “Going somewhere nice on your holidays Tommy? A cruise? Really?… on the Saucy Sally? Fancy….”


I may have noticed a technical hitch with this blog, and would be grateful if you have too- I’ve only noticed it on two devices, but it looks to me as if this blog (brought to you by Word Press) doesn’t open properly on an iPad Air? If you have found this to be the case, please leave a comment or drop a mail to us at


The show was great fun tonight, and a welcome respite from the rain and cold outside. As they say in the musical “Cabaret”.. “Inside life is beautiful! Even ze orchestra is beautiful!” I think we lose Bill McGee shortly, and gain Andy Pook on percussion. Andy has watched the show a few times in preparation.


Watching Saskia give her Principal Boy, and seeing her in her Sailor Tunic gave me the inspiration for today’s bit of Music Hall Nostalgia. Hetty King!

Hetty King was a Male Impersonator of great fame- she was never as rich and famous as Vesta Tilley (the highest paid Music Hall Star at the time. It pays to marry your agent and theatre producer. The title Lady De Freece didn’t hurt either!). Hetty was famous for her song “All The Nice Girls Love A Sailor, All the Nice Girls Love a Tar”… and for swaggering on stage with her sailor costume, kit bag and a pipe clenched in her teeth. She carried on into the 1970’s and did her last season at Ilfracombe aged eightysomething!

HettyKing1  HettyKing2  HettyKinglater

Hetty played “Boy ” in Panto. Here’s a picture of her as Robinson Crusoe with live parrot. (no Monty Python Gags please…).


The featured Music Hall Panto Today is one that has completely vanished. “Jack Horner”. I have no idea what the plot was, but I’m sure someone out there does!


Here’s a bill from 1910, it features Hetty King as Principal Boy, popular comedian Jay Laurier, The Star- G.H.Elliott who would have performed his songs from the “deep South” in an American accent- hence his character as part of a travelling show- his grave can be found in the very pretty churchyard in Rottingdean, near Brighton, a stone’s throw from the house where Rudyard Kipling lived. He’s the one that DIDN’T make exceedingly good cakes, by the bye…featured in this panto was the speciality act “Carlton”- known as “The Human Hairpin!”

Jack Horner”, The Prince Of Wales Theatre, Birmingham. This Pantomime ran from Dec 24th 1910  until Saturday March 11th, 1911.  It starred the famous male impersonator Hetty King. Famous for her songs, usually dressed as a sailor, a “toff” and during the first world war, as a soldier. Her hit number “All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor” was first heard in 1905. Her other “hit” songs included “Piccadilly”, “I’m Afraid To Go Home In The Dark” and “When a Fellah is Twenty-One”.

She made her first appearance at the Shoreditch Theatre, London in 1897, and consequently toured the world. At one time she was married to Ernie Lottinga, the comedian and theatre proprietor. He had appeared on Broadway the year before this pantomime, and in a number of films. In later life Hetty King joined the touring “Thanks For The Memory” show, presented by Don Ross (Husband of Gertie Gitana) and continued to appear in theatres up until her death, aged eighty-nine in 1972.

HettyKingSheetMusic  GHELLIOTTLIFE

a firm favourite with Birmingham audiences, born in Rochdale Lancashire, but brought up in America. He had first appeared as a child artiste in New York, and returned to Great Britain aged 12 as “Master George Elliott, the boy Soprano” on the music Halls. Both G.H.Elliott and Eugene Stratton were at the forefront in recording Minstrel Songs, and after Stratton’s death in 1918, Elliott adopted several of the songs written for Stratton by Leslie Stuart.


Carlton (Carlton Phips) appeared as the Speciality Act ‘The Human Hairpin’ and was able to alter his height at will. Later on he gained weight and abandoned the act. He died in 1942.

Back to the present- Tomorrow we have another evening show- I’ll be in at 8pm for a 9pm start.


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: