22 Dec

At the Garrick Theatre.

There’s no pantomime this year? Oh yes, there is. And not just one.
At the Garrick, there are six pantos for the price of one.
In the past, Pantos have gone for a couple of hours at least, I remember my children sit stolidly on their seats, chewing whatever confectionary you have provided, eschewing the interval toilets and all in their excitement to finish the story.
Here we have six or seven stories all in the space of seventy minutes with all the necessary noisy elements plus a few extra.
How can this be done? Are Jeff and Dan in league with the devil?
Well perhaps, providing it is a pantomimic one. This witty couple has been doing this job for several years now and they have got it pretty well tied up.
Oh yes, they have.
Dan is the tall one who has a yen to be a principal boy – preferably in The Christmas Carol – a daft idea as it isn’t a pantomime. Jeff tries desperately to make sense of it all – with very little success.
The whole is a rip-roaring hilarious seventy-minutes of fun.
We start with Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a story about a heroic Principal Boy with other typical Panto persons including the Dame – Jack’s mother, Jill – the Principal Girl, The Giant and his creepy Servant, and a Beanstalk. But the essential character of all is Daisy, the cow who is sold for a bag of beans, needing two actors in a cowskin This is a cast of at least seven characters, not counting extra singers, dancers etc.
But we only have two actors and one of them has to play Jack otherwise the story of Jack and the Beanstalk would make little sense, instead we have Jack and half a cow. Daniel wears the bottom half of a cowskin with a removable belt of udders.
Whittington comes next and much is made of the fact that Dick becomes Lord Major of London. To this end, Jeff dons a blond wig and gives us his accurate but very funny version of Boris Johnson, the mayor, dealing with a plague of rats using an outdated track and trace system.
Whittington is rapidly followed by Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, SnowWhite and Aladdin, with a little bit of Christmas Carol thrown in.
The dialogue and performances are witty enough to please the adults – Cinderella is full of references to the Prince’s balls.
Snow White’s seven dwarfs are represented by a lifesize cardboard cutout. They are quickly sent offstage for breaking the ‘six only rule’. Cinders’ Ugly sisters are played by Dan in a two-headed ballgown with added ventriloquism.
This is the perfect and short entertainment using the Covid rules, The theatre has been set out apportioning rows with enough empty seats to solve the distancing problems. It is cleverly done, so the theatre doesn’t seem to be empty
I would recommend this show to grown-ups and children everywhere. There are so many chances to shout out “He’s behind you” and “Oh no there isn’t”
But the most exciting bit is the chase in Cinderellas coach, here we all have to stand up and gallop through the story. It manages to use up a lot of energy and gives you a good workout.
This is the thing boys and girls of all ages. The Potted Panto is the six and a half pantos you need to see.
Duration of the show — seventy minutes
Age recommended 6+
Tickets from £20
Family ticket £70 for four
Box Office 0330 333 4811
Streamprice £15 plus £3 fee

Sadly, the live performances of the West End season of the Olivier nominated Potted Panto have been suspended until 9th January 2021 and will then run until 24th January
Good news for them and all of you who have missed Panto this Christmas. Due to the enormous response to the Christmas season. They are to return to the East End for Easter.
It is an old tradition for Pantos to run from Christmas to Easter. Like old times Except for the pandemic closing them in the middle.
The Potted Panto will be at the Garrick Theatre from the 1 – 18 April 2021 to cover the 26 shows cancelled because of Covid 19
Current bookings for the cancellations may be refunded, or transferred to the Easter dates


21 Dec



JOHN SAVOURNIN in one of the tallest actors in the business and sometimes he plays pantomime Dame. But why on earth did he decide to portray Snow White. His costume, designed by Holly Piggott from Walt Disney is like the one that Snow White wears in the popular film. This is a different story with the occasional odd hint of the original. So, is Savournin totally insane? No, he is totally humorous and is extraordinarily funny towering over the rest of the company in his pretty little Snow White frock. This story has give work to a couple of singing young women to play the two principal boys. Emily Cairns as the handsome Prince Larry and the Dandini character (quietly nicked from Cinderella story but is now named Harry so that they can do rhyming jokes throughout) is played by Meriel Cunningham. It isn’t all that much of a surprise that he turns into a frog halfway through. Oops spoiler warning! Jenny Jacobs is very beautiful and evil as the wicked Queen who relies on her mirror to supply the flattery she needs.. The mirror is played voice only by Mark Gattiss, Ian Hallard and Marcus Fraser. I don’t know whether it is all at once, or one at a time, but tis not mine to wonder why and they didn’t hand out any information on that point. In order to keep the production correctly socially distanced that is the cast in its entirety.

The Charles Court pantomime usually takes place at the King’s Head, but of course like all theatres the King’s Head has been closed, so here is a Charles Court boutique pantomime which has to be watched online. I suggest that you invite a friend or two – however you are allowed to have- because there is a lot of possible audience participation which doesn’t work all that well if you are watching it alone. There are written orders to shout throughout things like “He’s Behind you” and “oh no he isn’t” without which there can be no panto at all. So join up with your bubble – have a glass of something fizzy and laugh and shout your hearts away. It is difficult to plan ahead as we cannot tell from one day to the next what will be allowed to do.

But we mustn’t start on that. it sounds like politics.

It is an extraordinary take on the old story. John Savournin and David Eastern have devised, written and musicalised the production in their usual brilliant fashion and of course the cast sing like angels whenever singing is required – they don’t just spend their whole time acting daft. The play is full of Panto gags and has some of the beautiful songs for which the company is famous.

The set designer is George Johnson-Leigh. One of the useful things about work online is that the set designer can go to town on the sets as they don’t have to be all in the same place at the same time.. Ben Peckergill is the lighting man, and choreography is by David Hulston. John Savournin directs.

The Charles Court Opera is one of the leading companies providing Chamber operas and music theatre. It is their 14th annual pantomime and the 6th with the Kings Head Theatre. The Company are also famed for their productions of Gilbert and Sullivan in small spaces. Their HMS Pinafore had won them an offie for their production. and they recently produced a new and rather startling production of the Mikado which I think is one of the most successful versions of that favourite operetta. Nevertheless, they also concentrate on new work and perform it at various venues, pub theatres to concert halls.

The producers are aware of all the members of the profession who are not able to work this year and a share of the profits will be donated to the Theatre Artist Fund. A fund that has proved a lifwe saver for money during this terrible period.

It is available to stream from MOnday 14th December until Thursday 31st December.

Duration is 60 minutes

musing (not amusing)

7 Dec

Answering Kate Berwick’s post. I love this. I would love to be a painter and it’s true. Items and expressive details come and go. I have watched a friend paint a perfect nude and then day after day change it slowly into a vile monster. It has created sadness in me, but then I realise how much I edit everything I write. Recently, during the lockdown, I have been doing online conversations with my friend Andrew Eborn and it’s the same thing. We start off talking on. Specific subject and cover so many other details in the hour or so we spend doing it. Life is not just one subject, thank the Lord, but many. I am happy to see that nowadays, people are packing in so many different experiences in life. People who don’t have football matches etc to go to and talk about are forced to find other interests…aren’t they?I want to say It is sometimes difficult to enjoy everything but even if is not wonderful at the time it is still an experience …to be talked about? Life is a gift, we are learning. We should appreciate every minute

Andrew Eborn Show

5 Dec

ANDREW EBORN SHOW ON STELLATV This show has only been on for a week but I think it has great potential.

Of course, the show is only as good as its host and Andrew is one of the best interviewers in the business. He has huge warmth, a ridiculous amount of energy, lively intelligence and a great love of people.

He manages to keep calm and smile whatever happens and laughs a lot at his funniest guest the slightly mad woman Mary Martin. I thought at first, we were going to see Larry Hagman’s mum., but this Mary Martin is voluptuous, dark-haired and Spanish looking and she calls herself a Creative. That’s good, I don’t know how else to describe her. She created right there in the Studio a kind of shawl out of velvet which she carefully measured by stretching it across her majestic boobs. She then produced a length of lacy stuff with fringes and she tacked it onto the velvet, whilst imagining questions coming from an anonymous audience, “You pin it on” (what?) “Oh, you’ll need pins” (why?) “To pin it on.” She went behind a screen and vanished completely, leaving Andrew to fill in with a merry quip, difficult because he was practically on the floor laughing. Anyway, she arrived after a while saying – predictably “Here’s one I made earlier”

Andrew had gathered a selection of varied guests. A man called Jules came on to inform us that somebody called Adolph Hitler had won an election. No surprise to the Mail Readers who had the news on its front page. They discussed TV shows. Dancing on Ice, they mentioned the weather Andrew remarked that it was so cold that Strippers had started describing themselves.

The interesting thing about Andrew’s technique is that he works as if there was an audience there. I really felt he was talking to me. A special technique that is obviously not something shared by all of his guests. I found it very flattering, he’s doing this for me!!!

I missed a lot of the next item which was from Alec Sykes. He was talking about his podcast Stars, Cars and Guitars – he describes it as a sort of Rock and Roll version of “The Last of the Summer Wine”. Sounds like fun. Would like to know how to see it.

Jody Western added a little blondness to the business. I think she must be a Reality TV person. She has her own show called “The Dolls House” She talked about the fame that had brought her trolling people. The ones who follow her about on Facebook and Instagram in order to be unkind. If any of you have it in mind to troll, you will no longer get a result. She will just block you and then relax and listen to beautiful music.

Jane Balbec is a skin specialist from Chichester, who advocates going to bed at ten after cleansing with olive oil, washing your face and adding moisturiser. Thus saving yourself money on products, but then thinks it advisable to get in touch with a professional. She has beautiful skin.

After her came Mary Martin who I mentioned earlier and with whom I have fallen in love And finally, the lovely Andy Kyriakos arrived in the studio with his guitar and got us all singing. Andrew joined in with his own special brand of waving his hands about in time to the music.

This is a delightful hour show which has great possibilities for a happy future. It is so good to see a magazine programme with some new people. People I have not seen over and over again in lesser productions. Andrew Eborn has an eye for unusual talent and he has the charm and expertise to make it work.

Stella TV is backed by Media Powerhouse. Andrew Eborn is on every weekday morning from nine until ten following the Mike Read show.

Switch on to – Stella TV THE ANDREW EBORN SHOW Weekdays 09:00am to 10:00am GMT

jack and the beanstalk

3 Dec


it seemed that there were to be no pantomimes at all this year. And sadly, most of them have been cancelled because of the Pandemic. Peter Duncan, tv actor, and Blue Peter hero, had a great idea. He gathered some friends together during the lovely hot summer and invented a panto, using his garden, his neighbours garden, his shed, lots of trees, St Michaels Church Southfields, an assortment of balloons etc just for him and his friends and families to appear in or to watch over the Christmas holidays. To his amazement, it was taken up by a film company and the whole thing was made into a pantofilm, and will appear at various Everyman cinemas over the festive season. It begins with a little girl at the fireside longing for a pantomime but unable to see one cos of virus restrictions. Her father is sad for her, but tells her to shut her eyes and use her imagination.And, by Golly, there it is. The garden is turned into Fairyland by a single wave of the magic wand by the wonderful Nicole Blackman in a luscious floating magical gown as the Garden Fairy,On comes Jill, a sweet and pretty heroine played by the sweet and pretty Sarah Moss. A delicious morsel for the rude and angry giant up in his castle in the sky. We have the evil but cowardly Flesh creepy character played by the great versatile actor Jos Vantyler whose job it is to collect tasty human beings for the Giants dinner. He has to persuade the humans by various means and very different disguises and a variety of different accents.There is the handsome boy Jack, played by the very handsome Sam Ebenezer who has a very fine voice. Veteran actor and past time governer at the Regents Park Theatre Mr Ian Talbot plays the Squire Shortshanks, father of Jill and, from being a wicked man wanting to evict jacks mother from her garden shed turns into a pretty nice creature at the end undergoing a lot of comical suffering. often at the hand of Dame Trott, Jacks mother. Played of course by the star of them all, Peter Duncan himself giving his perennial North Country Dame. Of course, being a pantomime, anything can happen and a few things did and were ‘kept in’ Seeing what they had at their disposal, it is incredible what has been achieved. The scene changes are believable, different settings all around that same area. Not only has Duncan managed to engage six starry people to play the main roles, he also has a chorus, a mixture of people of all ages who sing and dance and fill in the gaps. There are occasionally twenty-two people on stage and they are all dressed alike in witty costumes by David ‘Daisy’Morgan.The most appealing character in Jack and the Beanstalk is, of course, the cow – named in this panto Buttercup. The perpetrators of this character were not to be seen except under the cowskin but they were played by Julia Gale (She does double duty as Choreographer) and Chris RedburnIn addition, there are a whole lot of highly well-remembered jokes from pantomimes seen in the past hundred or so years. And other jokes reminding us of the current situation without moaning about it. What a joy. We should thank Gustav Holst for providing us with an anthem for the show. A hymn that I always remember as ‘I Vow to thee my Country’. Here it is parodied and sung beautifully by our hero as he climbs the tree, and repeated by the full chorus at the end, giving us a rousing and somewhat tearful finale to the show.Duncans Panto is a great joy. Join in, shout and sing.

Act of God

30 Nov

30 November 2019  · Shared with Public


Act of God at the Vaults ****+My friend John Heawood used to say. “I know nothing about God except that She’s black” At the Vaults she isn’t black but is quite definitely female. A woman of wit. A kind of Heavenly Dorothy Parker. Fed up of the ten commandments has decided to make new ones more appropriate to today’s politics. The result is ninety minutes of hilarity. Zoe Lyons in white silken pyjamas is God, flanked by her two senior angels Michael played by Matt Telford, blonde and very sensitive and the rather more authoritative, and practically naked, figure of Gabriel personalised by Tom Bowen. Gabriel’s task is to read out God’s reconstructed commandments and put remarks snd his reactions (usually fuck off) on the two massive blackboards that flank the luxuriously draped sofa bed on the stage. Michael wanders through the audience asking questions for consultation with Madam. God, in this production speaks mainly in witty one liners ‘The people who call out My name on Sunday morning aren’t as fun as the ones who call it out on Saturday night’ and ‘For whatever reason I just don’t seem to like Arsenal ‘Some of them perfectly topical ‘In an ideal scenario the President of the United States and the worst human being in the World would be two different people’ She whips through the Old Testament, discussing Ada and Eve, the Lesbian occupants of The Garden, Noah and his flood, Benjamin and his much loved son. She comments on them all, including her middle son, Jesus, who had his own way of doing things, things she could never understand, but that’s kids. But as she knows because she is all knowing and all creating and bored to death with the world, there seems to be nothing anyone can do about it, except maybe write satirical comedies..The cunning words come grippingly to her tongue as she csually turns water into wine and creates other miracles. These important ingredients of this production are handled by magic consultant Scott Penrose The author is David Javerbaum of The Late Show and directed by “the naughty boy of musical theatre” Benji Sperring – so much his kind of thing. If you are in blasphemic mood, or even if you just want a giggle over life as it is, you should hare along to the Vaults. It’s a cracking show and a wonderful antidote to Christmas. My favourite remark. “Church of England Formally Approves Female Bishops” Congratulations! British Women you can now move diagonally. Aline for Aw theatricals

andrew eborn

22 Nov

I really enjoyed this Aline . There are lots of things I’d like to talk about . At present I’m co-writing a Play about Shakespeare’s life with a fellow actor / writer called Clive Greenwood and I could talk about that . I’ve also been using the enforced rest of this Covid crisis as a Reset button as an actor to have some time to rethink things . In my younger days I worked as a Chef for Pru Leith in her Serpentine restaurant in Hyde Park . I enjoyed seeing the Chef talk in this zoom . Andrew Eborn is very entertaining 😎

This was from Jason Wing at

Ute Lemper Rendezvous with Marlene

21 Nov



I first became aware of Ute Lemper when she came on to sing All That Jazz in Chicago .  It was one of my favourties shows and I saw it many times afterwards with different casts.  

Ute Lemper is a German actress who has worked in many theatres – and her idol was another German Actress – the great Marlene Dietrich. She specialises in the songs made famous by Dietrich and Edith Piaf who was Marlene’s great friend. 

Marlene had become a recluse later in life. She was afraid to go out and be recognised perhaps made fun of because of the great beauty she had been. She feared rejection, didn’t want people to see her face. She had already experienced the horror of rejection in her life from her own people, the people of Berlin who called her a traitor to the Fatherland.  

Billy Wilder took her to Berlin jut after the war and it broke her heart to see the ruin of her city. On her next trip to Berlin for Unicef in the sixties, during the cold war. She was castigated and there were banners saying Go Home Marlene and the smell of stink bombs. 

The hatred stayed in Berlin even  when she died. She had her funeral in 1992 there and there was no wake, because of the fear of  neo Nazis. They made it a small private funeral but the smell of the stink bombs delivered by her enemies was still around.  

Marlene had refused to work for the Nazis in Berlin.  When she worked in Hollywood, she learned from the many Jewish friends there how the Jews were being treated in Her native land, and she became a soldier in the American Army. 

She had said “Send my love to France,  my  heart to England – to Germany, my dead body” and so it came to pass. 

Knowing she would be  unable to see her idol face to face, Ute wrote her a letter, telling her  she was a young German actress who had played The Blue Angel – the play in which Marlene was discovered andbegan her glittering career in Hollywood and the movies. 

To her surprise, she received a call from Marlene herself and was treated to a three hour phone call about the life of Dietrich. This she has turned into a play,  using some of the music, telling the  story as herself, the young actress, in small chunks with no time frame, just as Marlene told it to her. And occasionally taking on the persona of Marlene, by donning a top hat or a shawl and singing one of the songs.  

The play begins with the orchestra playing something that is only vaguely familiar and is eventually identified as Falling in Love again, perhaps the most famous song from Blue Angel. One of Ute’s speciality is her original interpretation of music and she uses this a few times during the story. 

Dietrick loved to drink and to smoke and most of all to love. The list of her leading men is extensive. There were very few stars in Hollywood who were not on her list of lovers both male and female. She tells us that Judy Garland was one of her failures. Charlie Chaplin was a wate of time and Jack Kennedy was boring. Later in life she met Brt Bachcharach who became her accompanist and her love thoughhe was about thiry years young than she. Her affair with Yul Bynner last about a year but her true loves were French …Jean Gabin and Edith Piaf. 

There are so many secrets to be given away. Not only her list of lovers male and female, but one of her beauty secrets that makes one shudder. She used tape to pull the loose skin from her face and drag it to the back of her neck. This she had to remove every night which was painful and made her bleed so much that eventually it became infected and had to give up working. She retired to her house in Avenue Montaigne and shut the door on her life.  

Ute tells the story as told to her and occasionally takes on the persona of Marlene and gives us some of the songs. “Where have all the flowers gone”, “Just a gigolo”, “One for my Baby”  

There is so much more to the story of this Androgenous, extraordinary, brave lady and Ute is the girl to tell it. Try and catch the story whenever you can spare two hours. 

pimlico pate

13 Nov


Eve Ferret: Pimlico Paté

at the St James Theatre Studio

Larger than life is one way of describing this woman. She is all heart, all soul. She is out to give us a great time and boy does she deliver. With her signature peignoirs, her huge piled up red hair – no one else ever had hair that big. Her exceptional vocal quality – and her voluptuosity (my own word) she is a completely unique presence. A one off.

Being with Eve is like sinking into a lovely warm bubble bath. Cares all gone, just enjoy. So much delight, so much laughter, so much pathos. All unexpected. For instance – St Louis Blues – fantastic. especially with the trick ending. We were carried along with the magic of her wonderful throbbing blues voice, and then, after the build up, we were almost in tears …an insanely crazy event at the end. SO FUNNY. I’ll say no more – her comedy is impossible to describe. Surreal and yet seemingly completely spontaneous. The Salvador Dali of Cabaret. Her material is mostly written by herself and full of her own witty lyrics. Her parody on ‘The Thing that Got Away’ is hilarious and so is the description of herself as ‘Last night’s Pate’. A phrase we have to learn and perform with her as she tells stories of her ridiculous love life. ‘Congratulations, you Got me’ a torch song like no other sung with passion and heartbreak. ‘I love my peignoir’ is performed to a pink peignoir on a pole. And one of my favourites. ‘It’s never over till it’s over’

She describes herself in one of her songs ‘The Pimlico Belle;. She said at her performance at the St James’s last March.

“Born a mile away from the theatre, who knew from playing on bombsites down the road, that one day I would sing in this glorious theatre and launch an EP ’.

Eve has been billed as ‘One of the most original performers on stage today’. And beloved of the critics who say, ‘The incomparable Eve Ferret you have to see it to believe it. Musical Theatre Review.comShe could be compared to Bette, Ella or Peggy but in truth she is Eve Ferret the one and only’

Much of her lyrics are put into musical form by her guitarist/composer who was unable to be with her on this occasion. But on stage is a great blues piano player Johnny Miller. He follows Eve perfectly – not an easy thing to do. Not content with just backing her up on the St James’s grand piano, he accompanies her on the pencil. Now there’s a rarity.

I say this to one and all – if you ever get a chance to see this lady perform, grab it with both hands. She is a marvel.

aline waites



5 Oct


A Dance Musical Film  

By Sam Cassidy 

Directed and Choreographed by Ainsley Ricketts. 

Wait for me was originally designed as a stage show, but of course Covid put an end to all Theatre productions. 

Writer Sam Cassidy realised the damage caused to people’s lives by being deprived of music theatre and decided to try and change the story into a movie – the first film to be performed totally obeying the social distancing strictures. With just four dancers/actors,iIt has become a most entertaining, original and moving piece of cinema. The story is told almost completely in dance, but the dancing and choreography are original, eccentric and sublime depending entirely on the emotional content of the scene. Choreographer Ainsley Ricketts is certainly a force to be reckoned with. 

The cast were put in quarantine for the three weeks of rehearsal to create a bubble. Even the technical staff members were not allowed near the performers. 

It is presented on an empty stage with very little furniture – just a bench and a small table. A few props a wine bottle, 2 glasses, a camera, and a book plus the very important blue teddy bear – an essential character within the story as it represents a virtual child. 

The prologue begins in Heaven with two angels dancing together, making love by stroking, teasing and playing like baby animals. These ethereal creatures are two halves of a single soul and they know everything about the world having been up in heaven watching them. 

While they are dancing, rays of light begin flashing, eventually becoming a circle on stage, separating them. They can no longer reach each other and instead they are given a task. They are presented with a soul divided into two and are given half each. They must find two human beings who will turn out to be a perfect match, get them to meet each other and make the two half souls into one. The angels cannot be together again until the task is completed. 

They split and go to earth to find a two people who should belong to each other 

On earth there is Jack, a young man obsessively reading his book, falling over his feet and anything that gets in the way of his walking, with his head stuck in the book.  Finally, the angels lead him to the bench, and he sits. 

The girl Emma has a camera and obviously loves taking pictures. She is currently trying to catch a white feather that is fluttering around.  She accidentally takes a shot of it as it lands on the knee of Jack. The two meet and they are twin souls.  

From then on, the play tells the story of the young couple, their affair, their marriage, the comedy and tragedy in their lives, always dancing, and always watched and helped by the guardians from heaven. 

The whole of this part of the story is told in dance with much sentiment and comedy. 

When tragedy strikes, the tale is too sad to rely on simply dancing, the narration goes to the wonderful voice of Eloise Davies who sings the most heartrending song I think I have ever heard. It is a simple theme, and it is the very ordinariness that makes it so emotional.  

The off-stage voices by Davies and Bluey Robinson are important. It seems that when the emotion gets too strong, the characters speak with the voices in their heads. After the third time of watching I was still in floods at this point. 

But there is also much comedy and of course some wonderful dancing by the four dancers, Jaih Betote, Chrissy Brooke, Clarice Lanta Lilly and  Ainsley Ricketts. They don’t just dance for the sake of it, it is not ‘pretty’ dancing, but it is elegant and vital. Each movement they make tells us something about the characters and their inner feelings.  

Film is an excellent medium for showing this example of eternal love, lasting through hate, disaster, life and death.  We can see the action from the same distance as on stage, but with the use of close-up you can see the emotion expressed on every face.  

Congratulations to Cinematographer Nick Ross and lighting designer Matthew Camazza. The sound is by Will Vaughan. 

This is a very special production and should be seen. The World Premiere in online via INPLAYER, Accessible via a link on the ‘WaitForMe’ Facebook page from Monday October 5. £10 to view.