Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Great Nights in the Theatre, continued

Staying with theatre a bit longer, I have been rummaging among my programmes which go back to the mid-60s. There really though doesn't seem much point in discussing past shows, as they only matter to those who saw them. One can always find a rare movie, but once a show is over ... here are a few favourites from a lifetime of theatre-going...


I was 20 when FUNNY GIRL arrived in London in 1966 as the hot new show, with that amazing new star Barbra Streisand (with Michael Craig as her Nicky Arnstein) - a friend, Frank, and I got tickets and got to see it from the front row! Streisand wore a little mike which was the first time we saw one of those. The show was changed a lot for the movie - as usual (ditto with CABARET) some songs removed and replaced by others. On the stage her final number "The Music that Makes Me Dance" was a perfect solo, but it was "My Man" in the film! Craig had a nice number too: "I Want To Be Seen With You".

Best ever night in the theatre? A CHORUS LINE at Drury Lane on my 30th birthday, in 1976.

Right: Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Brett & John Stride in the sublime 1973 DESIGN FOR LIVING.
3 A LITTLE NIGHT MUSICS: the 1975 one with Jean Simmons and Hermione Gingold / a late 80s revivial with Peter McEnery, Dorothy Tutin, Susan Hampshire and Lila Kedrova / and that great National Theatre one, maybe 15 years ago now, with Judi Dench and Sian Phillips - I was at a preview [thanks, Tony] with Sondheim a seat but one away, furiously taking notes.
Then there was that FOLLIES with Eartha Kitt and Diana Rigg, and CHICAGO when Chita Rivera was in it
- and recent revivals [with Donal] of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, CABARET, LE CAGE AUX FOLLES and of course the pure theatre of THE LION KING and LES MIZ, plus those giddy pleasures HAIRSPRAY and LEGALLY BLONDE, and two great productions of SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM and being taken backstage [thanks, Pamela] to meet Julia McKenzie and Millient Martin, and there was Bacall in the awful APPLAUSE in '73 [with Franco] (Bacall label) , and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA [with Catriona, I had to get the CD next day].

STARS ON STAGE - among those I liked: (click images twice to enlarge)

Deborah Kerr, THE DAY AFER THE FAIR, 1972
Jean Simmons, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, 1975
Julie Christie, OLD TIMES, 1997 - being able to gaze at her for 90 minutes; Liv Ullmann too in a 70s production of OLD TIMES.
Faye Dunaway, CIRCE AND BRAVO, 1986 - directed by Harold Pinter
Claire Bloom, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, 1974 (Claire Bloom label)
Julie Harris, THE BELLE OF AMHERST, 1977 (see Julie Haris label) [with Les]
Lee Remick, BUS STOP, 1975 (photos and more at Lee Remick label)
Angela Lansbury & Peggy Ashcroft, ALL OVER, 1972 [with Stan]
Cyd Charisse, CHARLY GIRL, 1985 [with Rory]
Vanessa Redgrave, DESIGN FOR LIVING, 1973 & A MADHOUSE IN GOA, 1998
Marlene herself in concert in 1973 - a masterclass in audience manipulation!
Ralph Richardson & John Gielgud, HOME, 1970 which I saw twice !
Ingrid Bergman just perfect with Michael Redgrave, Emlyn Williams, Jeremy Brett, A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY, 1965, CAPTAIN BRASSBOUND's CONVERSION (with Kenneth Williams) in '71
Peter O'Toole, Sian Phillips, RIDE A COCK HORSE - my first London show in 1965 [with Mike and Gina]
Robert Stephens amazing as the Inca king in ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN, at the Old Vic, 1966
Glenda Jackson, Marianne Faithfull, THE THREE SISTERS, in the front row of the Royal Court, 1968
Glenda Jackson, Susannah York, Vivien Merchant, THE MAIDS [with Les].
Alan Bates, BUTLEY, '73, HAMLET, 1970 (with Celia Johnson as Gertrude) [other Hamlets I saw include Michael York, Peter McEnery, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Dillane, David Tennant - as per Theatre Hamlets label)
Jill Bennett, SEPARATE TABLES, PRIVATE LIVES and another splendid HEDDA at the Royal Court (where she was also Gertrude to Jonathan Pryce's acclaimed HAMLET)
Sarah Miles & Eileen Atkins: VIVAT REGINA
Joan Greenwood and Gladys Cooper: a revival of THE CHALK GARDEN, 1971 [more at Greenwood, Cooper labels]
Edith Evans in her one woman show, 1974.
I saw Ingmar Bergman's HEDDA with Maggie Smith twice, it was so spellbinding, blood red sets and the cast in black, in 1970 - a look he followed in CRIES & WHISPERS in 72. Ditto HOME with Richardson and Gielgud, and they signed the programme afterwards.

The 'real' Marlene, and Sian Phillips's Marlene.

Aretha Franklin, at her peak in both 1968 and 1970 - she wouldn't fly after that! [with Stan]
Otis Redding and the Stax Soul Tour, 1966 (before that fatal flight), (with Stan).
The Doors at the Roundhouse, 1968 (and I am in the concert video footage,aged 22!) as per Doors label [with Clive and those stoned hippies]
4 Joni Mitchell concerts [Joni label for when I met her in Chelsea in 1972).
4 Pet Shop Boys concerts [their residency at the Savoy Theatre in 1997 was Very Pet Shop Boys], and that Scissor Sisters concert in Trafalgar Square in 2006 [with Donal]
Marlene Dietrich at Wimbledon,1973 [with Bryan]
Peggy Lee at the Albert Hall, 1970
Bette Midler at the London Palladium, 1979 [with Les]
Liza Minnelli at The Royal Opera House, circa 1980
Joan Armatrading, Cleo Laine, Dionne Warwick (1970 & 2005), Petula Clark - several times each, and Nancy Wilson.
Great concerts too by The Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, Van Morrison, The Who.
Divine on stage at Rory's club in Brighton, 1986, and all the hi-energy divas!

And, just to recap, those early '70s National Film Theatre Q&A sessions [as reported on previously at labels with photos] with the likes of Bogarde, Mason, Remick, Davis, De Havilland, Huston, Harrison, Lansbury, Bergman, Niven, Heston and the like, and those book signings with Loren, Bacall, Arthur Miller, Michael York and others, and that screening of A STAR IS BORN at the Starlight Cinema in Mayfair, with Gary [my 1963 "Films and Filming" penfriend] over from Australia, in 1970.

The shows I would love to have seen: Coward's HAY FEVER at the National in '63 with the classic cast of Edith Evans and the young Maggie Smith and Sarah Miles / and Coward himself in his last London outing SUITE IN THREE KEYS with Lilli Palmer and Irene Worth, in 1965 - just before my time!
and now, back to the movies ...

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