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Betty’s Valentine Blog!

February 17, 2014

Friday:14th February


Valentines Day at Brick Lane! Today we had a lunchtime show, and again we were packed to capacity. A lot of parties in and two people who looked up Trip Advisor, and came along to see something they won’t see in Dallas, Texas! They not only enjoyed the panto but got to contribute along the way! Sitting in the front row they were especially a part of the “Busy Bee” gag!


Lauren with her bouquet backstage!

The wind howled and whistled and the rain came down- it was even windier than yesterday. A gentleman called Brad (not Pitt, and not his Brother Cess) spent some time up the Spire/Tower today working on something. Vincent has supplied me with a few photographs of what is actually up there- the ventilation and extracts, and the place where the bell SHOULD be. “But it was nicked!”… I will ask Vincent to elaborate on this throw away remark!

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At the end of the Valentines show the audience were hugely appreciative, and then along with us had to leave the warm and cosy environment of the theatre for the  North   Woolwich Road.


Hayley-Jo & Anna

I got blown most of the way to Pontoon Dock station- its VERY breezy up there on the platform in the sky, and headed off to the West End to meet up with Andrew Ryan and our mate Marc Seymour.

Marc has played Pantomime Dame many times, especially at the Kenneth More Theatre. He now works for a tele-visual company and travels the world- and it was good to catch up on a year’s worth of news over a few drinks.

Made our way back to the underground battling against very strong winds. Being in the right or wrong place. Fate. Kismet. Luck. Who knows- We stood opposite Holborn station at 10.30pm and chatted then crossed over to the Underground for home. Fifteen minutes later a chunk of the building fell on that corner with fatal results. Feeling very very fortunate today.

Saturday: 15th February.


Brick Lane- we are Family!

An evening show today. Looking at Rusty’s glorious photograph on his record, I was prompted to ask Andrew (Robley) for some publicity photos to put here on the blog. He certainly came up trumps! The glamour of Show Business is here!

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Andrew has travelled the world several times,and since 1984 he regularly appears on the High Seas. He joined us here from the Caribbean, and jets off somewhere stateside as soon as we end the Brick   Lane season on March 8th. A regular at the WestCliffTheatre’s “Cascade” review in Clacton, he did his first season there in 1986,  he still lives in Essex, and in the middle of London while appearing here. Along with most of the gents here, he is an officer and  member of the GOWR (the Water Rats to you and me) which does a great deal of charitable work.


A Corner Backstage. Theatrical? Surely Not?!

Meanwhile life goes on backstage. Zara continues to add decorations to the costumes and Vincent lends a hand as pussy perruquier! His teasing skills were required once again to sort out Tommy the Cat’s Barnet Fair!


Mr Teasy-Weasy at Work!

Dick Whittington and His Cat- The first Brick Lane Pantomime twenty Two Years ago, and I’ve just thought, the first Televised Pantomime, by the BBC back in  1932. That one starred Betty Astelle, wife of the inventor of “the odd ode” Cyril Fletcher! Funny the things I keep in my memory bank!


BBC Dick Whittington 1932

Here are a few more historic pics of Dick Whittington. The 1909 crowd scene from Liverpool shows the moment Dick is accused of stealing the money from Fitzwarren’s Stores- We turn our backs on Dick here, just as some of the dozens of ladies of the ensemble are doing at the Shakespeare Theatre.


Fred Whittaker as Tommy, His wife Ada as Dick Whittington

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Tonight I had mates in- Dave and Kevin who I met up with beforehand at CanaryWharf, before bringing them along to the show. I met them in the Front Of House at the end, around midnight, and realised this is the very first time I have set foot FOH since the 18th January when rehearsals ended and we opened! I celebrated with my first glass of wine here this year!

Dave and Kevin enjoyed it very much. Especially for Kevin Andrew and I added a joke that has always been a favourite of Kev’s. “Did you find the Gypsy’s camp? No- I thought they were quite Butch!”


Lionel Blair gave me that one years and years ago. Dave and Kevin first heard it when they saw Peter Robbins and I at Plymouth, or Wimbledon, or High Wycombe- they saw all three, and requested it once again. The lads also saw my debut Dame at Ilford, and now my Debut Brick Lane. Thanks chaps! Glad you had a great night!

By the way, Maureen Hughes’s great book on panto is selling well on Amazon. Bit late for Valentines, but it does make a great un-birthday present. Here it is just to remind you!


The Cover Girl looks delighted!

Next show Tuesday. Hoping that finally we might see the sky with a hint of blue in it for a change. Still, if you have to have nasty weather I’m blessed that I get to work close to home and in such a cosy and “Over The Top” venue on a grim day!







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