It was with great sadness that we learned of the departing of Geoffrey Brawn in May. He had a long association with the Players and was, for a number of years its director. There is a detailed appreciation in the current edition of The Call Boy and his Telegraph obituary is attached.
If I catch Alphonso, Tonight! is a play about music hall star Billy Merson. Our very own Miles Jenner plays Billy Merson and Roger Roser is on the piano.
Billy Merson commenced his theatrical career as an acrobat and circus clown before going solo as a comedian. He composed and performed many songs – including ‘The Spaniard That Blighted My Life’. He first sang it in pantomime at Brighton and it played a very significant part in his fortunes thereafter. Having taken London Music Halls by storm in 1910, he went on to perform in revue, musical comedy and film. He is credited with having made the first British talking picture in 1926. Having reached the top of his profession, circumstances conspired against him and he returned to variety work. He last appeared at the Royal Hippodrome, Eastbourne, in 1938. It is a story of a man who constantly found himself on the ropes but always bounced back. A born entertainer, he was the inspiration for future generations of comedians and his legacy lives on.
Venue: St. George the Martyr, London SE1 1JA (opposite Borough Tube Station)
Tickets: £12.50 - see www.TheLittleBoxOffice.com/GreenRoom
This is a charity performance with complimentary interval drinks .
Frank, the landlord of the Royal Oak, has kindly invited Players Members and guests to a free buffet from 5pm at the pub prior to the performance. Cash Bar!
An event not to be missed!
Fairs, fetes, fun-days and festivals are an integral part of English culture, and Feast of St George perfectly fits the bill. On Saturday 21 April, there's no better excuse to wave a flag, enjoy tea, cake and great entertainment, all in the surrounds of iconic Trafalgar Square.
The event promises a strong and varied live music programme with traditional and contemporary acts, including a 25-piece brass band, pop and folk groups, Victorian music hall, and showcase for young musicians.
The Players' Theatre will bring to Trafalgar Square an exuberant and joyful performance featuring some of the best known music hall songs. Led by Jan Hunt, chairman Peter John, singers Julia Sutton, Judith Hibbert and Mickey Driver, plus dancers from Laine Theatre Arts school choreographed by Lucie Spencer, the show will include a tribute to female stars of yesteryear such as Marie Lloyd, Florrie Ford and Gracie Fields.
Very special guest will be Anita Harris , whose stage, screen and recording career spans over fifty years. She has worked with many legendary artists from the world of entertainment, appeared in two Carry On films, enjoyed success in the pop charts, played the role of Peter Pan in pantomime, and starred in Cats in the West End. Anita will portray the music hall artist Vesta Tilley, famous for her performance of 'Burlington Bertie'.
For more information, visit the Mayor of London website
21 April | 12 - 6pm | Trafalgar Square
The Good Old Days is a BBC television light entertainment programme produced by Barney Colehan which ran from 1953 to 1983. It was inspired by the success of the "Ridgeway's Late Joys" at the Players' Theatre Club in London and was performed at the Leeds City Varieties, rereating an authentic atmosphere of the Victorian–Edwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day performers in the style of the original artistes.
The audience dressed in period costume and joined in the singing, especially "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" which closed the show. The show was compered by Leonard Sachs, who introduced the acts from a desk situated at the side of the stage. In the course of its run it featured about 2,000 performers. Each show was up to an hour long. All acts were in the style of late Victorian/Edwardian stage acts.
The show was first broadcast on 20 July 1953 and the first two shows were compered by Don Gemmell.
For useful links to background information and to an archive of shows, see Links.
Ellie Bamber – the talented young actress who memorably sang Father Dear Father at the Players’ 75th anniversary show, was featured in this week’s Evening Standard:
Rising star Ellie Bamber is to make her Donmar Theatre debut in Ibsen’s The Lady From The Sea.
The actress and model, 20, says the role will be a relief after a “crazy” few months jetting around the world as an ambassador for Chanel.
Bamber said taking the part was “not the easy choice” but felt like “the right thing to do”.
She joins a cast including Nikki Amuka-Bird who will be working with director Kwame Kwei-Armah at the Covent Garden venue. Bamber said: “I feel like theatre is where I learn and I can learn from Kwame and Nikki and the rest of the cast.”
On Sunday afternoon 2nd July, aficionados of the Players attended their version of Sunday service in
the crypt of the great Victorian church, St George’s, Bloomsbury.
The crypt has been transformed into the Museum of Comedy, with fascinating artifacts, elegant seating
and a lovely small theatre. Oh, and a bar where Players’ Members enjoyed a welcome discount!
Being so close to July 4th (US Independence Day), the show started with traditional English turns, and
then, in the second half, American numbers.
The worthy Chairman, Mark Walsh, kept everything going with great aplomb, occasionally playing
numbers on his ukulele. Members were entertained by the delicious Playerettes. Quite how they all
managed to perform their dance routines without falling off the very small stage remains a mystery, and
the same could be said of the extraordinary tap dancer, Maurice Kachuck.
Jan Hunt has to be congratulated on producing yet another hugely entertaining show, and also performing with her usual huge energy. Long may she continue to do both.
Roy & Debbie Hudd will be in the audience with us at the East meets West Show on 2nd July 2017.
This will also be an opportunity for Roy to ‘officially open’ Johnny’s Corner at the MOC after the Show
The Show commences at 4:00pm.
To further ‘whet your appetite’ the artistes will include:
- Julia Sutton
- Amy Day (A New Face just returned from America)
- Maurice Kachuk
- Kate Tomlinson
- The Playerettes
- And your very own Jan Hunt
Tickets may be booked through the Museum of Comedy website, or by telephone on 020 7534 1744. Alternatively, you may visit the Museum of Comedy, during its open hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 5 pm - though wise to check first OR go to the box office at the Leicester Square Theatre.
Players' members can use a special discount code.
Produced by: Jan Hunt
Venue: Digby Hall, Hound Street, Sherborne
Raffle & Bar
Tickets: £12 from Sherborne Tourist Information - 01935 815341
In aid of: Sherborne ArtsLink & WDDC Chairman’s Charities
Sponsored by: Cllr T Farmer
Supported by: Sherborne ArtsLink and WDDC’s Chairman
From the Bearsted Parish council website:
The long and the short and the tall ... they were all there, as were almost 100 older members of the Bearsted community.
The parish council rolled out the red carpet and hung up the bunting at the WI Hall for its over 60s, treating them to a free afternoon out at a good old-fashioned Victorian Music Hall.
The Players Theatre Club from Bloomsbury brought along Pearly King Peter John and guest artistes including Miss Julia Sutton, Miss Helen Watson and multi-talented musician Mr Andy Eastwood.
Ironically, Mr Richard Winch almost didn’t make it for his 1940s tribute to the motor car – after being held up in traffic on the M25!