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Great Christmas Vaudeville Extravaganza Preview

From the director, Lisa Thomas:

“When I was young, the TV schedules were packed with variety shows, glittering confections of comedy, song and dance, headlined by stars of the stage and the small screen. They ranged from superannuated end of the pier shows, enlarged for TV, to the nostalgic ‘The Good Old Days’, which aimed to capture the magic of the old time music hall with its mix of acts and enthusiastic audience dresses to the nines in Edwardian finery.

I was also enamoured by the idea of the US vaudeville show, a similar genre to music hall in terms of its wide bill of fare, but drawing on the American tradition of song and dance and comedy. A character drawn by an actor in a play I directed earlier in the year made me wonder if that single routine with a hat and cane could be broadened into a whole show – and one where the audience might be persuaded to dress up a little and sing along with songs they recognised.

So that’s what our Christmas show is this year, a nod to the tradition of both music hall and vaudeville, with song, dance and comedy from c1890 to the late 20th century. The Main Hall at Stanley Halls will be set up with cabaret tables and splendidly decorated. There will be mulled wine, mince pies and other Christmas treats. We would love it if the audiences chose to dress up in Christmassy or period attire, and be even more delighted if you choose to sing along with some of our talented performers. It should feel like you are part of our show.

With Andrew Chadney as musical director and Guy Jones at the helm as Master of Ceremonies, we have songs from some of the earliest days of music hall including ‘Tarara boom de ay’ (Jenni Chadney), a dance that pre-dates the cancan that it probably inspired. Audrey Lindsay has created a range of characters in tribute to the male impersonator, Vesta Tilley, including the legendary ‘Burlington Bertie’ and ‘Goodbyee’. There are samples of Joyce Grenfell from Fiona Daffern and Caroline Durant, along with a couple of classic poems by the Scottish comedian Marriott Edgar.

We have magic from Tom Melly and, as promised on the poster, dancing dogs George and Roxy doing tricks. Kelly Kim Cranstoun and Roisin Deady have a number of favourite songs, including the classic singalongs ‘After the Ball is Over’ and ‘Oh Oh Antonio’, along with some gentler pleasures from the jazz age and beyond. The Youth Group will demonstrate some typical vaudeville tropes, including slapstick, as well as their amazing kazoo orchestra. There’ll also be comedy and a melodeon (and some singing) from Owen Chidlaw and Jason Salmon, Marcus Reeves’ inimitable singing Christmas tree, a terrific recreation of ‘A Couple of Swells’ and much more.

Whether you love a bit of nostalgia, want to give your lungs a workout, or fancy a bit of mulled wine in fun company, you should have a great time.”

Tickets are now on sale at www.ticketsource.co.uk/slt