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Thursday 18th December

December 19, 2014

4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre Wednesday and Thursday packed with school parties- the last school matinee on Thursday, as they break up tomorrow for Christmas. Very excited and great fun to play to. No more can Widow Twankey prey on a male teacher to the huge enjoyment of the assembled classes! Very miserable out, and raining here in Hull. As I opened the curtains of my Hotel room I gazed across at Cooplands Bakery in Paragon Street.

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It was here that the Tivoli Theatre stood, and here that Old Mother Riley – Arthur Lucan made his very last appearance in a touring show/pantomime: “Mother Riley In Paris”. Arthur died in the wing of the theatre where the bakery cafe now stands. I called in 25ears ago, and I called in again today- there at the back of the shop they have preserved a bronze bust, some plaques (one unveiled by Danny La Rue) and some memorabilia to commerorate one of this country’s highest paid Variety and Film stars. films-1941-old-mother-rileys-circus 'Old_Mother_Riley_at_Home'_(1945) 11590216474_87810ea7e3_z arthurlucanbust When I was here last Panto I was so lucky to meet Rowland who was working at the Tivoli on the night Arthur died. I had already appeared with Frank Seton twice- Frank was the understudy who was sent onstage that evening- “The show must go on!”. Rowland took Peter and I to see the grave, and I hope to make a visit once again this time around. lucannewgrave 27050602 a picture of the old and the replacemant gravestones. By 1937 Lucan and McShane were top of the bill in every major variety house in the country. The first “Mother Riley” film was made. Lucan and McShane were among the highest paid entertainers in the land. On stage Kitty offers to stay at home with Mother. Mother decides to celebrate..”I’ll give you a party. I’ll open a tin of sardines!” Offstage Arthur was a careful man with his money, with the exception of spending it on alcohol. Kitty made wise investments with her share. As the years passed Arthur was to lose control of his money, his act, even his very name as Kitty took the reigns. By the end of his career Lucan didn’t even own the rights to call himself “Old Mother Riley”. Kitty was touring their sketches with Arthur’s former understudy, Roy Rolland. At one point there could be two “Old Mother Riley” shows touring the country- one with Kitty, one with Arthur. Such was the case when Arthur met his end, collapsing in the wings of the Tivoli Theatre in Hull. His partnership with Kitty had broken up in 1951. By the time of their last film they would each come into the studio to record their shots on separate days to avoid speaking to each other. Kitty’s investments had fallen apart- a Beauty parlour she opened lost £40,000, and Arthur owed the Inland Revenue £15,000. Since 1951 He had paid Kitty three quarters of his income. Arthur began to slide into bankruptcy and the bottle. During the stage “Pantomime” “Old Mother Riley In Paris” Arthur died of heart failure, just before his first entrance. Roland Watson, the chief electrician carried Arthur ‘s body to his dressing room, and Frank Seton, Arthur’s cover was told to get into costume immediately. Whilst attempts were made to telephone Kitty to break the news, Ellis Ashton playing the Mayor announced “A slight delay to the programme”. The show went on with the majority of the audience in ignorance. I have a revue from the paper the next day that begins “despite the tragic death of Arthur Lucan, “Old Mother Riley” it was a splendid show.. costumes bright and…” The show indeed must go on! Arthur was buried in Hull in 1954, and Kitty continued to tour with Roy Rolland before retiring. She died ten years later in March, 1964. They leave behind a legacy of films and the memorable “Bridget’s Night Out” as an example of comic genius and timing at its zenith. In the 1980’s Maureen Lipman and Brian Murphy appeared as Lucan and McShane in the excellent play “On Your Way Riley!” A new book has recently been launched on the lives of Arthur & Kitty- by Robert V Kenny. index If you’d like to read the whole story of the tempestuous lives of Arthur and Kitty, here’s a link to an earlier article here on the site. Meanwhile, back at the current Hull Pantomime- the Lurgy continues, with Callum feeling under the weather, and James and Sherrie recovering. I have the odd hack, but otherwise I’m good. I have asked Philip MD to lick up the strip tempo, so I must be all right! IMG_8735 The Wardrobe Team! We had a visit from our producer- Jonathan Kiley. Our previous visits have been from Nick Thomas head of Qdos and from Jake , and jonathan comes to us from directing Belfast and Glasgow pantomimes. He took us to the local afterwards for drinks, and we ended the evening at the Quay here, having pizza. A nice evening- he now heads for Nottingham, and then to see as many Qdos pantos as possible before their various runs end. 4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre The Genie’s cabaret at Aladdin’s wedding. Twankey & Empress having one over the odds! 4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre 4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre 4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre Pictures courtesy of Hull News & Pictures Here’s a jolly review from The Yorkshire Times: On entering the auditorium Christmas songs are playing: it was a good touch to get everyone in the mood for the night ahead. The panto in Hull this year is Aladdin starring Sherrie Hewson (former Coronation Street star, Loose Women panel member and the hotel manager in the TV programme Benidorm) and former Eastenders actor David Witts. Sherrie Hewson’s role is part Empress Bing Bong of China mixed with Joyce Temple-Savage (her role in Benidorm). She seems a natural at pantomime. The Grumblweeds make a welcome return as Sgt Wishee and Sgt Washee to the stage following the sad loss last year of Graham Walker. Previously Walker was the funny man but former straight man Robin Colvill now plays the stooge with new partner James Brandon acting the role as the serious one. The duo work well together: most of the gags and routines are from their old act but it still works. Their take on Ali G and Ozzy Osbourne brought the house down with laughter. There are plenty of regional jokes in the show” How do you get to Peking?” asks dame Widow Conchita Twankey (played brilliantly by Nigel Ellacott), the answer being P&O Ferries, King Georges Dock 17″ He also says to the audience ” I can see we have a lot of Pensioners in tonight, How can I tell? 50 Shades of Grey” comes the reply. James Barron as Abanazer the Wizard is both theatrical and convincing – his experience at playing pantomime villains for over 20 years showed. Sam Cassidy as Aladdin was charming and convincing whilst Tara Verloop as Princess Jasmine was a mix of innocence and youthfulness. There are some big hits performed too with the Pharrell Williams track, Happy and One Direction’s Live while We’re Young adding some uplifting songs to the performance. The special effects are noteworthy too with a magic flying carpet! A feel good panto that appeals to young and old alike and one of the best ones in Hull for a long time. Marvellous. 4th December 2014  Aladdin, Hull New Theatre Sherrie Hewson as you’ve never seen her before! There you go! So now, after six shows we have tomorrow (Friday) off, and then its full steam ahead until Christmas Eve- When we celebrate James Barron’s Birthday! Nine shows from Saturday through to the Christmas Day off!

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