I WENT to a wonderful memorial service last week at The Actors’ church in Covent Garden.
Impresario Charles Vance, who died in January, aged 83, took over the running of the Beck Theatre in Hayes in 1986. It was such a radical move at the time – a council theatre being run by an outside body – that it was mentioned in parliament. These days the Beck is run by HQ Theatres, but Hillingdon Council remains its owner.
It was great to see former Beck staff at the service, such as CEO Phil Brewin, who started Beck Youth Theatre (BYT) and the Summer Youth Project; also manager Graham Bradbury, who is now in charge of the Prince Edward Theatre, home of the musical, Jersey Boys. Tracie Gillies (formerly Rowkins) who, like me, was a BYT tutor there 25 years ago, was also there to pay her respects.
What a great, luvvie affair the service was, and Charles, who was often seen at performances wearing a green velvet jacket and holding a silver-topped cane, would have adored it – particularly the standing ovation at the end.
Bill Kenwright and Tim Brooke-Taylor spoke, Anita Harris sang, but strangest of all was seeing people like June Brown (Dot from EastEnders) playing a minor role, as part of the congregation.
? For Mr F’s birthday this month, we went to Denham for a couple of drinks and an early meal before wandering out into the sunshine to see some Morris dancers perform. I had spotted a poster there weeks ago announcing their appearance at 7pm, so we’d planned our evening accordingly.
Dead on 7pm we stood on the village green, only to be greeted by … silence. There was nothing, not one handkerchief, an ’orse’s ’ead, or even a stick with bells on.
After about half an hour we were grumpily leaving Denham when we spotted a lone, unhurried dancer getting out of his car and drifting into the pub. Presumably others were going to follow at some point.
Charles Vance, who was one of the last old-school actor managers, would never have stood for this. Surely any performance billed as starting at 7pm should mean just that?
It’s no less a performance just because it’s traditional and carried out in the open air, is it?