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Betty’s Brick Lane Blog Tuesday 4th February

February 4, 2014

Two shows done and dusted. Saturday was amazing. The Panto g0t a huge reception at the finale- they were a very jolly house to play to!

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Lovely to see Peter John in the audience. Back in the late 1970’s one of my great joys was to make the journey to Watford to see the Palace Theatre’s Pantomime each year- written and starring Peter John, as Dame. The pantomimes there were “Rep” pantomimes in essence, but hugely traditional and very inventive. My all time favourite was a “Dick Whittington” with Peter as Sarah The Cook.

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Peter in Pantomime recently

We’ve run into each other several times since then- Peter’s passion is Music Hall, which is why he is such a regular member of the “Brick Lane” team over the past twenty one years. He was a member of the Players Theatre and the City Varieties “Good Old Days” has seen him numerous times over the years. He specialises in “Character Studies”, and putting over Music Hall numbers with patter and with huge passion.

Born in Liverpool, Peter grew up in Cheshire and Manchester.  He trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). His career  as an actor, writer, director and performer has covered everything from twice nightly weekly repertory to Shakespeare productions in Regent’s Park and with the National Theatre Company, of which he was one of the original cast members in Olivier’s Othello.

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In recent years, Peter has concentrated on Music Hall and Variety performances, frequently here at Vincent Hayes’s Brick Lane,  and he often writes his own words and music for the wide range of comic characters he creates. He contributed some material to this epic pantomime recently.

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He led the company at the City Varieties Theatre, Leeds (former home of TV’s The Good Old Days) often as chairman, and frequently giving his “Fairy”- in “Nobody Loves A Fairy When She’s Forty”, and his Cockney Coster Woman, or Coster Monger. He truly is a versatile performer and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Music Hall Society.

He is a veteran pantomime performer, having appeared in over 35 productions. Those pantomimes I adored at the Palace Theatre, Watford were between 1977-1981 His Dame was an Annual Audience favourite at The Palace.

For eleven years, he has played Dame for Paul Holman Associates , pantomimes have included Jack and the Beanstalk (2001) and Snow White (2002) Recent pantomimes include playing Dame Dolly Dumpling in  “Snow White” at Worthing 2010 and  Able Mabel in  Rickmansworth Peter Pan 2012-13

A delight to see this master of Music Hall and Pantomime in to see the show tonight!

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Tuesdays audience were also great fun, and large parties in from Colchester and from Kent this afternoon for the Matinee Tea performance.

A fair bit of theatrical chat in Dressing Room two today, shows we’ve done, shows that are due to open shortly. One of the topics of conversation in both rooms tonight was about the Tube strikes due tomorrow through until Friday. The same threatened next week- Tuesday to Friday. We’ve all looked at the likely routes closed, and hope not too many of our company and audience are disrupted.

I think I mentioned before that Barry Hopkins was a favourite Performer in Pantomime at Swansea Grand, and across the UK. A cruise director after he left the Boards, he was mentor to Hayley-Jo our Mate “Issie Good” when she started her cruising career on the High Seas (and the High @C’s!”). Lovely Barrie sadly passed away a short while ago, and this poster is on the Brick Lane wall Stage Left. Bless him. A lovely man. The presenter of this “bill” was my agent Jean Charles.

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During the interval I got a telephone call from Pantomime King Paul Elliott. “I’m in a church dressed up as a lady” I explained. “Good lord. Are you a priest? ” I think I heard him say “Oh well, nothing changes”.. and we had a quick chat. Today’s brief chat on the way to Brick Lane was with Brian Godfrey.

Readers of the blogs will know that Brian has been unwell, and went into hospital this Christmas, and didn’t do Dame this season. Pleased to report not only is he up and about, but Mr Godfrey is back at the work he does so well, assisting his mate Ray Cooney with “Two Into One” at the Menier Chocolate Factory, on the South Bank. It will run from March 8th to April 26th with a stunning cast-  my mates Jean Fergusson, Kathryn Rooney, Nick Wilton and Jeffrey Holland joining Michael Praed and Josephina Gabrielle with Tom Golding. I will be heading there as soon as the run here at Brick Lane finishes.

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Brian Godfrey & myself at the “Churchill” Launch

So lovely to hear Brian is back in the world of high farce, and is fit and raring to go!

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Tomorrow- Wednesday it is my turn to have friends in- we’re combining Brick Lane with a meal afterwards to celebrate some joint birthdays we all have this month. In fact I have mates in both tomorrow and Thursday- so it will be a very social week here in Pantoland!

 

 

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