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Betty’s Blog: Tuesday & Wednesday 28th-29th January

January 30, 2014

Well, journey in was fine- the Docklands Light Railway strike having been called off! Now if it would just stop raining….!

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Here at Brick Lane all was bright and warm and jolly for the Turesday Tea Matinee and the Wednesday Lunch Show- our first Lunchtime of the season.

In the Tea show we start at 2pm and have a long break while afternoon tea, sandwiches and cakes are served, and then do the second half coming down at around 4.40pm. With the lunchtime show we start at 2.30pm after the lunch has been served, and have a short interval during which the raffle is announced by Vincent. We come down around about the same time.

SONY DSCAndrew, Paul, Hayley Jo went off to see Sondheim’s “Putting It Together” yesterday evening at the St.James’s Theatre and loved it. It is good to be so close to the West End here- less than twenty minutes or so and you are in the centre. I can be at Westfield Stratford from here in ten minutes.

Wednesday’s visitor was Sarah, Rusty’s wife. We’ve had Ben his son in to check up on the fight that he arranged (and to enjoy the show obviously!) and lovely to meet Sarah- she teaches at the prestigious Italia Conti school in London- one of the oldest. In fact both Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence were pupils. I’m not sure but I have a feeling Charles Hawtrey was also a pupil. I seem to remember him telling me that. He started his career in “Peter Pan” for the Daniel Mayer Company as a lost boy!

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We had two great shows. Again, full to bursting. I ran in to some of our audience earlier when I was having a cuppa at the Thames Barrier Park- a coach pulled up and they all got out for a pre matinee tea cup of.. err tea! Some of the coaches come from far and wide. This lot I think were from Kent.

Andy Pook has now joined us on Percussion. Here’s a pic of Andy and David MD backstage.

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Many a backstage prank goes on- especially in Dressing Room Two. I enquired about the whereabouts of my missing watch for a good hour or so without noticing it was actually taped to the centre of my dressing room mirror! Does that mean I’m not vain or not observant?!

There was talk in the dressing room about “Lodge”- the members of the GOWR (Water Rats to you and me) had been to Lodge. I mentioned one of the early members was Eugene Stratton.

Vincent was honoured for his services to Music Hall last year. One gentleman who was honoured, and indeed Knighted for that was George Robey- The Prime Minister Of Mirth as he was billed! Here’s a bit of information on Sir George and Pantomime for the Music Hall History Fix of the day!

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“The Queen Of Hearts” at the Theatre Royal starred “The Prime Minister of Mirth”, George Robey in the title role. Robey had a phenomenal career which spanned  from 1891 to 1954, at the end receiving a Knighthood shortly before his death aged eighty-five.

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Robey was the star of Music Hall, Pantomime, revue, “straight” theatre and films. He made his debut at the OxfordMusic Hall in 1891, and his first hit song was “The Simple Pimple”. Other Hit songs were “Fancy That”, “Archibald- Certainly Not!” and “Oh How Rude!”. His duet with Violet Lorraine “If You Were The Only Girl In The World” is still sung today.

In this pantomime he is accompanied by his wife, Ethel Haydon, billed as “Mrs.George Robey”. She was an Australian artiste from Melbourne, who had first appeared in London in 1895. They were married in London in 1898. In 1900 she had a son, Edward, later to become one of the chief prosecutors of the British courts, and a daughter, Eileen.

Robey had a wandering eye, and eventually they separated. At the age of Sixty Robey fell in love with Blanche Littler. Blanche was the sister of the theatrical impresarios, Emile & Prince Littler, who produced pantomimes throughout the country. Blanche was running the Woolwich theatre, and presented George under the title “Blanche Littler Productions”, when, aged thirty she met the man she was to marry. She was thirty, and George Twice her age, but a charismatic figure who enchanted her. She became the second Mrs. Robey  nine years after meeting him, while Robey waited for Ethel to divorce him.

George Robey made a rare panto appearance in London in 1921 at the London Hippodrome- Now the refurbished Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square.

The West End production at the London Hippodrome was “Jack and The Beanstalk” starring George Robey and Dorothy Ward, who replaced Clarice Mayne just before the pantomime opened. Despite his huge fame throughout the country, Robey had rarely played pantomime in the capital.

Right- back to the saucy Sally and Brick Lane! Oh look what turned up on Facebook Yesterday. Seems a very long time since I toured in this!

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Tomorrow a Lunchtime performance – the call is for 1.30pm.

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