Stars explained

* A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane

Half stars fall between the ratings


Harking back to a golden age

Old Time Music Hall

Hall Green Little Theatre


THE romantic notion is that the Music Hall died in 1963 on the afternoon they buried Max Miller and it is true that by the 1960s it was in its death throes.

Miller had taken over the mantle of the king of the genre, the highest paid entertainer in Britain - earning £1,025 in a single week at the Coventry Hippodrome in 1943 (equivalent to £43,078 today) – but even then mumarie lloydsic hall’s slow demise was picking up pace after being attacked on all sides by jazz, big bands, affordable gramophones, cinema, radio, television and rise of the pop stars of the 50s and 60s.

So these days its memory is kept alive by occasional documentaries and shows like this. The BBC ran its own music hall tribute, The Good Old Days, for 30 years until 1983 with Leonard Sachs becoming a household name as its compere and at Hall Green the role is taken on by Roy Palmer who battled manfully with the words lurking in the furthest, least visited recesses of the English language and could claim a creditable, nay meritorious, draw.

The queen of the realm of music hall, Marie Lloyd

He also peppered the audience with puns and produced more corn than the Jolly Green Giant in an exhibition of asides, double entendres and mangled introductions.

The programme is set around a street party in a communal courtyard of four houses in Jubilee Street sometime around the time of the First World War.

It is perhaps a sign of our modern times that many people were singing choruses from songsheets when, not too long ago, they would have been second nature and part of collective memory.

An enthusiastic cast of 19 kept things moving along with a collection of music hall standards such as The honeysuckle and the Bee sung by hglt regular Tony O’Hagan who also sang the much later A Nightigale sang in Berkley Square from 1939.Gus Elan

Matt Ludlam weighed in with Gus Elen’s If It Wasn't For The 'Ouses In Between while Lin Neale sang us the budget, standard lamp version of the German Second World War favourite Lili Marlene and Charlotte Crowe gave us Marie Lloyd’s Oh Mr Porter and Jean Wilde sang another Lloyd song When I take My Morning Promenade.

Ros Davies bemoaned Why am I always the bridesmaid, the old Lily Morris number, while Richard Woodward sang another Gus Elan song, It’s a great big shame.

Rachel Pickard has a lovely clear voice and gave us The Boy I love is up in the gallery, made famous by Marie Lloyd, again, and sang If you were the only girl in the world with Matt Ludlam taking on the roles of Violet Loraine and George Robey in the 1916 original.

Stephanie Harris produced a fine soprano with Clarice Mayne’s I Was A Good Little Girl Till I Met You.

Among the songs and ensemble numbers came the sketches which elicited groans of appreciation.

Lesser known music hall star Gus Elan, who was a fond favourite of the working class audiences from the East End of London

Stanley Holloway’s Sam, Sam, Pick oop tha Musket was turned into an ensemble piece with Louise Price, looking like one of Spike Milligan’s soldiers, as Sam Small and Richard Woodward as t’ Duke o’Wellington.

There was a version of the Little Jimmy Brown chapel bells sketch and Reginald Purdell’s 1940 Pukka Sahib sketch for Stanley Holloway, based on The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God, was milked for all it was worth, and then some, as two old colonial duffers interrupt the serious(ish) monologist Tony O’Hagan.

The hidden star of the show was tucked behind the pianoforte at the back, Geddes Cureton, who not only accompanied every song but, rather like an old silent screen pianist, provided a constant background of appropriate incidental music along with Steve Pickard on what was described as electronic stick.

Directed by Christine Bland this was a nostalgic journey back to the golden age of music hall. To 17-07-15

Roger Clarke


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