Archive | July, 2018


30 Jul

To be seen at Frankenstein’s during the Edinburgh Festival
Sinatra was one of the most popular singers in living memory equalling the popularity of the Beatles and Elvis Presley. He sold more than a hundred and fifty million records in his lifetime.
Richard Shelton has the charm, the voice and the general audience welcoming persona of Sinatra. He also has the knowledge to write this engrossing story of the man’s life. A story that goes underneath the charm and shows the inner personality of an intriguing character. Among many anecdotes, Shelton tells us about how the Rat Pack started with a jokey altercation between him and Dean Martin
He begins with one of his earliest songs ‘ All or Nothing at all’ as he flirts with members of the audience. We are supposed to be at Palm Springs at his final show. His goodbye show. He says ‘1971 doesn’t agree with me. Songs about Lucy and diamonds in the sky? .What does it mean?’
His goodbye didn’t last long , He was back in harness after a couple of years. His biggest success was ‘New York New York in 1980. His voice may have deteriorated slightly but it was his commitment to words and music and his complete involvement in the mood of the songs that the audience loved
This was particularly true of love songs which became his staple diet after his break up with Ava Gardner. Richard shows this deep feeling in songs like ‘I’ve got you Under my skin’ and ‘I’m a fool to want you’ His role of the suffering man was incredibly moving and tears were imminent.
His marriage to Ava caused Sinatra a financial breakdown. But his resurrection came with the film ‘From Here to Eternity’ which won him an Academy Award.
It is probably the political part of the show that is the most memorable. His association with the Sicilian Mafia was inevitable as they mostly owned the venues in which he worked, but it was because of this that he was investigated by the FBI. Although he worked to get Jack Kennedy elected, he was snubbed by the Kennedys’ because of his mafia connections. They preferred the company of Bing Crosby – a Republican. His hatred of the Kennedy’s extended to his ex-friend and Rat Pack member, Peter Lawford who was married to one of the Kennedys.
A fiery personality, he had altercations with The Press, with Tommy Dorsey and many others. And once he was hurt, he never forgave. He was able to overcome his hurt, but his anger against those who upset him never subsided.
Nevertheless ‘That’s Life’ He sings and asks for suggestions from the audience.
Inevitably they are ‘Set Em Up Joe’, ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and of course, what has become his signature song.



30 Jul

By Jackie Skarvellis
At the Kings Head

And Death shall have no Dominion – said Dylan Thomas.
It seems Jackie Skarvellis, who died last year feels the same way
In her play James Dean has just crashed his car and he is fatally injured. He rises from his death to speak to us about his life. . He begins with a joke.
‘Spyder Porsche, my Baby. A car to die for’
Here is a young man who is speaking from the heart. Like a confession, he doesn’t care what he says. He knows that Hollywood is all full of sex hungry people. He has sexual hunger of his own that is enough to allow him to act out his dream. He can give people what they want. His own sexuality was ambivalent and he is prepared to put up with everything, even torture, in order to get on to the ladder of movie fame. He tells of his nickname The Human Ashtray because he is covered in cigarette burns where predators have put out their cigarettes on his naked body.
Eventually he gets his chance and he becomes a cultural image of teenage disillusionment in first of all East of Eden and then Rebel Without A Cause His final film was ‘Giant’ with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. East of Eden was the only one that was released when he was alive, and he won two posthumous Academy Award nominations.
Kit Edwards is great casting as Dean.. The words that come out of his mouth seem to be his own, not something he has had to learn. He looks the part – wearing the 101s, the white t shirt, the bomber jacket. He is a little frightening sometimes, sometimes funny and often heart breaking. His romantic side is expressed when he sings ‘The Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ ..Dean had not too serious dreams of marriage to Pier Angeli but was put off at the idea of himself as a paunchy father playing with his kids. But it still hurt when Pier suddenly got married to Vic Damone.
Dean was a pin up boy for both sexes because of his androgynous appeal. Even Jackie Skarvellis, the writer of this passionate monologue must have admired him. She was never happy with straight guys and much of her knowledge about him must have come from her gay friends.
This play is also a reminder that the predators of Hollywood were not only the abusers of women, but would show favouritism to any young person who would not reject their sexual advances.
The show, directed by Peter Darney, will come back to the Kings Head at the end of August.


25 Jul

At the Lyric Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue
Giving the cast of Thriller a break is a special presentation of the Simon and Garfunkel story.
It concerns two young boys from Queens New York who met during a school production of “Alice in Wonderland” with Paul Simon as The white Rabbit and Art Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat. It is not surprising then that the first name for their musical duo was Tom and Jerry. They immediately became great buddies because of their similar taste in music and they started writing and singing songs. They actually had a hit record with a style that depended heavily on their idols, the Everley Brothers.
Tom and Jerry did not get much further in the business, but in their real names Simon and Garfunkel they had a hit with their very beautiful song ‘The Sound of Silence’ The tune and the exquisite harmonies caught the imagination of the public and from then on they became household names.
In this production the story is told in between songs by a couple of young men Philip Murray Watson as Simon and Charles Blyth as Garfunkel, who resemble them very closely, both in appearance and in the singing of the songs which are performed with total respect and with faultless harmonies
They tell of Paul’s trip to England where he became fascinated by folk music and this resulted in one of their greatest hits ‘Scarborough Fair’
The songs are performed with occasional back up from Leon Carnfield on Bass, Adam Smith on Electric Guitar and keyboards and Mat Swales on Drums.
The setting consists of one big screen which shows news items of the time when the boys were in prominence. There is much coverage of Martin Luther King and the Vietnam war.
However the big screen really comes into its own after the interval when the music is augmented with a brass playing trio and a full orchestral version of ‘Mrs Robinson’ with scenes from The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman and Ann Bancroft. This was a really big hit for the guys and also probably the biggest hit in this show.
The fans of Simon and Garfunkel are obviously enraptured with this production. There are two companies – two Simons and two Garfunkels who will share the tour before it opens in London in November.


25 Jul


Hey natives and visitors to High Dunedin.
If you fancy going bonkers in the afternoon in Edinburgh now’s your chance
Tim McArthur is presenting his sister the nun. Sister Mary McArthur at Frankenstein’s from August 3rd to 26th at 5 pm (no perfs Weds 8 and 15)
This is no joke – you have to be ready for rollicking to have enormous fun – Or, you could turn bonkers as soon as she orders you to stand for prayers.
Yes, you are not there to enjoy yourselves you are there to work and work you will
You have to sing, do gestures – not all of them rude – even pray with the good lady in order to receive her much sought after blessing..
As a special treat, She may have done some baking before her concert and will hand round her very special flapjacks.
With luck you will get the opportunity to sing ‘A Spoonful of sugar’ ‘Doh a deer’ and other choice selections from the repertoire of Julie Andrews. The sister has a unique way of managing chitti chitti which is a joy to all especially her bang bangs.
She is a rather talented lady and can sing very sweetly sometimes although her serious manner doesn’t last very long..
One of her guests the other night was Paddy O’Connell, the serious TV presenter and he was amazed to be in a show with a tap dancing nun, but he surrendered to the atmosphere of idiocy and was utterly charming. The good sister promises us a guest artist at every performance, it could be Elaine Page or it could be you, so be prepared.
I have been seeing Sister Mary’s shows for many years now.
Sometimes described as ‘More painful than childbirth’ and ‘the coolest nun since Whoopee Goldberg’
They are always good natured and refreshing.
A good teatime treat.


20 Jul

Biddie returns to the Pheasantry, Elegant as always. Even in this hot weather and totally surrounded by people in shirt sleeves he does not abandon his well cut DJ with its sparkling decoration. He seems more relaxed, than before with his Songs For Europe – a show devised by him and the musician Chris Marshall. They have described it as their preparation for the sinking of GB.
It is always such a pleasure to witness a performer who knows what he is doing. How to tease the customers to cover any little misdemeanour (whether accident or intended) by making his audience laugh even louder. His voice is always a joy to listen to as he has one of the most extensive vocal ranges in the business and he uses it to the full, both for serious numbers and for comic effect. He and Chris Marshall seem almost joined at the hip, they know and understand each other so well.
The so called European connections are mainly French – dismissing the Netherlands with a single sentence ‘How does it feel to be a dyke?  A simple joke but sends his loving audience into paroxysms of laughter.  
His Spanish  consists of a song from Valmouth – an old show by Sandy Wilson which uses a weird style of humour which suits his personality. This song  performed by the blasphemous Cardinal Pirelli is about ‘the cosiest church of all’  In fact The Cathedral of Clemenza. I got to thinking it might be time to return to this extraordinary show.
His French songs are sung beautifully ‘Sous Les Ponts de Paris’  and then he goes on to discuss the vandals who sleep under the bridge and a further song about the people who stay near the wine stores in order to breathe in the scent. He speaks French very well and I found that he spends most of his time renovating a broken down presbytery in France.  After the show he left immediately to visit the place in his heart.
The Euro bit falls apart slightly when they go back to their old favourite ‘The Old Bazaar in Cairo’   but it’s a great number they enjoy doing it  and its fun for the audience to join in.
There is so much to enjoy from these wonderful performers and the audience listen respectfully and laugh in all the right places…. Biddie works them so well.
They finish the act with ‘How can I say Auf Weidershein to you.
None of us wanted to finish off this lovely evening.

music hall at the museum of comedy

20 Jul

The Players Theatre Club
Music Hall produced by Jan Hunt
At the Theatre of Comedy
The Museum of Comedy in Bloomsbury has a cosy underground theatre styled like an old music hall complete with pros arch and a good lighting rig. So it is appropriate that the Players Club should do the occasional gig there, concentrating mostly on songs from the Golden Days.
They do not rely solely on Old Style material, but in this show there were episodes from ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ beautifully sung by Micky Driver especially ‘When this …war is over which he did a capella. Also from the fifties, Lionel Bart/ Laurie Johnson  musical ‘Lock up your daughters’ . Lovely Helen Watson, in the guise of a village virgin uses the audience to great effect in ‘Lovely Lover’ and on a ‘Sunny Sunday Morning’. The Aria from Samson and Delilah sung by Carolyn Allen suddenly turns into the Tom Jones number ‘Why Oh Why Delilah’  happily joined in by the entire audience.
But one of the highlights was the old Alec Hurley number ‘I ain’t nobody in particular’  sung by Michael Chance – this was a number made famous at the Players Theatre by Dudley Stephens and it made tears as well as chuckles. Dudley died young – at the height of his powers.
Another highlight was the chairmanship of Peter John who is a highlight in everything he does.
But the episode that spoke most loudly of music hall was a mistake which turned out to be a triumph. Somehow or other there was a mix up with the music for the two numbers from Julia Sutton. She had for her first wild comedy number a cockney costume complete with Eliza Dolittle hat.  But Paul Smith, {the orchestra}, played the opening to her sweet love song. So she sang her serious number in her music hall costume. Oddly enough it was all the more poignant as sung by a coster girl. What was even stranger , she was wearing her black sequin evening dress to do the mad comedy number and it was hilarious. It is a perfect expression of her enormous  talent that she was able to do this – and make it a success.
This is what music hall is all about. Triumphing over disaster!
The Theatre Club will be returning to the Museum of comedy regularly as well as the shows they do elsewhere. The Players Theatre club can be reached and membership obtained by mailing to

Aline Waites

Thu 19 Jul, 13:58 (1 day ago)

to Elsie, Susan, nigel, jodytoo


give my regards to broadway

20 Jul



Exactly what it says on the tin. A selection of everyone’s favourite songs from Broadway musicals, sung by a four young and beautiful players.

The programme starts with a highly tropical number. ‘Too Darn Hot’. It is always surprising that when a young man finds it too hot to pitch woo with his baby tonight, he is still capable of some lively and acrobatic dance steps. Both young men in the company Ben Lancaster and Albert Lindsell manage it well.

The girls in sparkly dresses Rebecca LaChance and Thea Butler take over the stage to render “s/wonderful” by the Gershwins. The works by these brothers are so well  known having been rendered by the most perfect interpreter of music and lyrics,  Fred  Astaire. He and Ginger danced their way through all of them. It is indeed wonderful that we can still watch these great productions on TV and DVD and they will never go out of fashion. The great thing about these two is that they were so totally real sometimes in the most unreal of situations.

These songs were written by great composers and some of the wittiest poets of the twentieth century. Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Lorenz Hart being my particular star turns and the sadly unlisted P G Wodehouse in the brilliantly simple and moving love song ‘Bill’ from Showboat

I have to admit I favour Lorenz Hart who with Richard Rodgers wrote My Funny Valentine, Have you Met Miss Jones and of course Bewitched – a song that has too many choruses, each funnier than the one before. I was really sad that Miss  Rebecca  La Chance, who sang it beautifully, only did the censored version. I think we were in need of the humour.

Which brings me to my problems with this show. Many of the items are  sung, accurately enough, but they are too square, as if the actors were reading the words and the notes from a script without paying real attention to the actual; heart of the song.

It is not a criticism that holds water as it is not easy to carry a show with around 35 songs running straight after each other without a plotline of any kind – and yet manage to get the best out of every number. What the show needs is something keep ;the momentum going – maybe an MC or a comic to break up the numbers – or even a dialogue from the performers themselves.

Nevertheless, Good luck to the talented and handsome cast and to the musicians Oli George Rew and Laurence Michalowski , the director Harry Blumenau and the choreographer Chris Whittaker. To Al Hunter on lights and Nico Menghini on sound.

Always lovely to hear these songs..