15 Nov


On Sunday I had an extraordinary and inspirational afternoon of emotion, drama, comedy and song. Add to this a party atmosphere of genial fellowship, a charismatic host, and limitless alcohol.

This was at Ray Rackham’s new London Theatre Workshops in Leadenhall Market.

The session was for some reason called The Next Ten minutes and it was a showcase of some of the work in development at the LTW and the treats in store for us in 2017.

The company won great accolades for their productions at their previous theatre in the Kings Road, Fulham and most especially for Through The Mill a story of Judy Garland which appeared first in Fulham and most recently at the Southwark Playhouse.

.The pieces of theatre were wide in their coverage.

Ranging from a very touching and funny excerpt from ‘Freddie, Ted and the death of Joe Orton’ by Don Cotter. A title that set it firmly in August 1964. We only saw part of the first act with Robert Styles as Freddie,  Chris McGuigan as Ted, Norma Cohen played a visitor Dilys with  James Neale as her son Glen. Amanda Bailey and Ray Rackham played BBC announcers. It is about a pair of men living together and it resembles slightly a witty version of the TV series ‘Viscous’ However we shall have see the rest to give judgement but what we saw was highly entertaining, the characters well drawn and the comedy extremely well realised.

One of the Rackham’s musical plays was ‘Therapy’ about four people telling about their visit to a counsellor.. Two couples and two single New Yorkers. Involved in the writing and production of musical comedies – the current one being a musical version of ‘Three Sisters’. There are four songs from this musical coming at intervals during the afternoon and performed by Tom Harrison, Belinda Wollaston, Madelaine Nicole Jennings, Anton Tweedale, Chris McGuigan and Alistair Frederick.

‘City of Champions’ is a play by Steve Brown about 1980s teenage superstars who are now grown up, having been through the whole drink and drugs culture and come out the other side. Some of them meet after a long absence. Joel Arnold Harry Anton and Amy Burke. This is beautifully acted and a fascinating subject about what happens to child stars when they eventually achieve adulthood.

.Disturbance is a thriller by Ray Rackham. It takes place during a super storm. Amy has been watching the destruction of live Television and has left it too late to evacuate. She has to stay and wait for the storm to pass. She is surprised by the presence of another person in the building. A man who is looking for a missing cat. They decide to wait together, but there is something not quite right about this stranger. That is all we know, but it is a super beginning to a thriller. The wonderful Nova Skipp plays Amy and Rob Carter is Adam.

But for my money, the star occasion of the afternoon is the play by Carolyn Scott Jeffs. It is called ‘FANNY, a new music hall’ title that filled me with dread. Having been involved in Music Hall for much of my life, I have seen so many duff plays on the subject. However the music hall is simply a setting for a play about the terrible diseases suffered by the poor  and homeless in that era. Fanny is played by the almost over talented Lizzie Wofford who puts a stamp of stardom on every part she plays. She sings to us a couple of music hall songs (we have to join in) in her world shattering voice. And then sits beside accompanist Peter Dodsworth and plays and sings ever so sweetly Marie Lloyd’s song ‘Up in  the Gallery’ Not a dry seat in the house! This is a one woman show which will be seen at the LWT early next year.

The LWT is like a happy family – and everybody has a good time. Ray Rackham is a joyful presence and is in love with musical theatre and all the many highly talent people involved in it. I was so privileged to be invited to this event and am looking to seeing all the shows .next year.

.The afternoon ended in a most appropriate way – with Lucy Sutton singing the number she sang from Through The Mill ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Ray Rackham has created his very own Emerald City in the  Land of Oz.



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