Edwardian actress Lily Elsie has a Blue Plaque!

     

Joseph Coyne & Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow 1907

Thank you to all those who attended the unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Edwardian actress Lily Elsie (1886-1962) on Friday 16th August at her former London home at Stanhope Place, Hyde Park. It really was a lovely, special morning in honour of one of London theatre’s greatest stars of the early 20th Century. Special thanks to West End actress and soprano Rosie Ashe for officiating and Roy Hudd OBE and his lovely wife Debbie for their support. Thanks also to Geoff Bowden and his partner David, Victoria Willis and her daughter Flora, Robert Smith my agent, Raymond Langford Jones, Lynn Nortcliff, Mark Abrahams, Peter for taking the official pictures and Dimitri Paleocrassas the current owner of the building. We did Lily Elsie (1886-1962) proud indeed! Graham & I were delighted.

       

David Slattery-Christy, Rosemary Ashe and Roy Hudd OBE

Thank you for a lovely write up, Raymond Langford Jones I’ve just spent a fabulous couple of hours at a special event organised by David Slattery-Christy celebrating the life of Edwardian beauty and singer Lily Elsie (1886-1962) – the unveiling of a blue plaque at her old London home in Stanhope Place, near Marble Arch.

Rosemary Ashe, currently appearing in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3/4 at the Ambassadors, gave a charming speech conveying the essence of the great star of the Edwardian stage and original Merry Widow – who was also a good friend of Ivor Novello. Both personalities, famous during their own champagne-supper times, may now be only glamorous photo images in coffee table books for today’s theatre-goers, so we have David to thank for helping keep their spirits alive in his biographies – and by instigating memorials such as this.

The event was also opportunity to chat to the warm, ever-youthful Roy Hudd, presently touring in Dominic Dromgoole’s production of A Woman of No Importance where he’s covering the entr’actes with period numbers in his own inimitable manner. He’s a Croydon boy, so we had lots in common there. I mentioned how I’d always loved the News Huddlines and how June Whitfield was the best ‘Maggie Thatcher’. This led on to him telling me how she had landed the job, by nailing the PM in an informal impersonation and obliterating initial concerns as to her suitability for the show.

We went on to decry the death of intimate revue in the ’60s, and how its requirement for versatility had once provided a wonderful training ground for emerging actors of an earlier generation, including Kenneth Williams and Maggie Smith.

Rosie Ashe is another, albeit somewhat younger, performer who has kept a high West End profile down the decades thanks to her adaptability and upbeat personality. Thirty years ago I remember seeing her as Hortense in The Boy Friend at The Albery in St Martin’s Lane and, during the run, also surprised to find her on a night away from Nice, as the ‘breeches’ role in Richard Strauss’s Arabella at the Coliseum across the road. She was marvellous in both.

Rosie was also one of the best things in The Witches of Eastwick (for which she gained an Olivier Award nomination as Best Supporting Performance in a Musical) and is now sharing a dressing room with Ian Talbot in the cramped backstage conditions of the frantic Mole set-up. She drew a hilarious picture of how, each night after the show, they relax in their underwear swiging back cans of G&T!

What both actors agreed on, was how longevity in the theatre can, in part, be due to getting on with people and being willing to turn your hand to anything that’s offered. Professionalism in other words. And, of course, there’s that indefinable ‘star quality’ which they both possess in abundance.

Thank you, David, for a fascinating time!

 

Raymond Langford-Jones, Victoria Willis, Flora Willis, Roy Hudd OBE, David SLattery-Christy, Lynn Nortcliff, Dimitri Paleocrassas, Mark Abrahams, Robert Smith, Debbie Hudd.

Raikes Hall & Royal Palace Gardens Exhibition

Raikes Hall & Royal Palace Gardens Exhibition – 14 & 15 September 1pm to 8pm.

Part of Blackpool’s Open Heritage Week 2018.

I am delighted to have organised this special event to celebrate the history of Raikes Hall and the lost Royal Palace Gardens as part of Blackpool’s Open Heritage Week. The exhibition will be officially opened on Friday 14th September at Raikes Hall by comedian, actor and panto star Steve Royle at 1pm. The exhibition will then be open from 1pm to 8pm on both Friday 14th and Saturday 15th September.

We have lots to see and also a selection of guest speakers – details available on the leaflet below. As part of our featured artists from the garden’s late Victorian heyday we will highlight the lives of La Belle Rose – The Giant Spiral Woman!; Charles Blondin the famous aerial and highwire performer and his rival and nemesis The African Blondin. All of these artistes were regulars and hugely popular in their day.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Dan Leno – A Royal Jester! Starring Steve Royle

Reviews are in for the premiere of Dan Leno – A Royal Jester! Starring Steve Royle at Lytham Festival 2018:
    
“Congratulations to Steve Royle for an award worthy performance…it’s a must see. Good luck to the cast and writer David Slattery-Christy” Robin Duke
“Steve Royles’s performance was extraordinary…it took the whole production from being an amazing play to an utter triumph.” (Alt Blackpool)
“Slattery-Christy’s ability as a writer really shines…the story moves along in such a way as to show the wonderful style and material of Leno’s performances, while in the same moment the heartbreak and tragedy of his tortured genius.” (Colin Davies)
“There is tragedy and there is comedy but in drama when the two melt together like twilight into evening, then you know you are witnessing something very special…The cast, Nicole Violet, Jordan Kennedy, Louise Steggals, Andy Cooke is excellent with its renditions of music hall songs and choreographed appearances, but it is Steve Royle’s night… this performance takes him to a new level…a production not to be missed.” (Susan Duke – Entertainment Then & Now)
“A Supreme performance by Steve Royle ensured that David Slattery-Christy’s biographical play about Victorian music hall star Dan Leno was both comical, gripping and poignant…he fully inhabits the role and simply is Dan Leno.” (Julian Wilde – Lancashire Evening Post / Evening Gazette)
“It was funny, tragic and very contemporary. With mental health, the cult of the individual, finding real self and the perennial themes of love and redemption, not at a time of strength but of great vulnerability.
There was plenty there to leave you thinking about what it means to be human.” Dave Blacker
Thanks to Martyn Coyne, Michael Ellison and Andy Hollingworth for brilliant, unusual and fantastic rehearsal and production photographs. These are just a taster –
Funnyman Steve Royle from BBC Radio Lancashire and Phoenix Nights will lead the cast in the world premiere of new play Dan Leno: A Royal Jester as part of this year’s Lytham Festival celebrations.
The exciting new play, which charts the life of Dan Leno who developed his skills as an artist in the Northern and Lancashire Music Halls and became a champion clog dancer, acrobat and comedian, will take place at Lytham’s Wesley Hall Theatre from Wednesday July 18th to Sunday 22nd.
Written & Directed By
David Slattery-Christy
This exciting new play charts the life of Dan Leno who developed his skills as an artist in the Northern and Lancashire Music Halls and became a champion clog dancer, acrobat and comedian. He then went on to become a huge celebrity in the London theatres and established his name as the pre-eminent pantomime star at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he created some iconic dame roles, and became a favourite of King Edward VII and the Royal family.
Playwright David Slattery-Christy said: “It’s exciting to bring another new play to the Lytham Festival as an official event. This play has been in my head for a long time – but it wasn’t until I saw Steve Royle’s performance in a show last year that I finally discovered an artist who I felt could portray Dan Leno and his comedy. Dan’s story is funny and sad in equal measure – and the play also includes some classic music-hall songs of the period.”
“I am flattered and thrilled to be asked to play this legendary music-hall star,” said Steve Royle, adding, “Dan Leno was as passionate about pantomime as I am and hopefully I will be able to do him justice? I began as an actor with Oldham Theatre Workshop 30 years ago and I look forward to taking on the role with excitement and fear in equal measure.”
The play will run from Wednesday 18th July until Sunday 22nd July at the Wesley Hall Theatre, Methodist Church, Park & Westby St, Lytham FY8 5LU. Evenings Weds to Sat at 7.30pm. Matinees Fri & Sun at 2pm. Tickets from £8. Day Seats £10. Further casting to be announced.
Available for interviews and features. Please call David Slattery-Christy on
Cast
Steve RoyleDan Leno
Andy CookeDoctor Savage / Henry Beerbohm Tree
Jordan KennedyHenry Wild Galvin (Dan’s brother)
Laura NicolLydia Leno (Dan’s wife)
Louise SteggalsNurse Kelly
The play includes original Dan Leno character monologues and
popular music hall songs of the period.
Choreography: Debra Smyth       Musical Director: Darren McNeil
Costumes: Gillian Wood            Sound Design: David Brown
Set Design & Construction: Graham Greenwood & Christyplays
Lighting: Dan Creasey & Congo Design
Christyplays is a cooperative of North West based professionals.
 
Dan Leno (George Wild Galvin) 1860-1904 – was born in London into an impoverished music-hall family. His parents worked the northern music-halls of Manchester and Lancashire. His father died when he was four and his mother remarried. Dan spent much of his childhood performing with his family and brother billed as ‘The Great Little Lenos’. It was in Lancashire he was taught to clog dance and became a champion. After an accident on stage when he hurt his back be moved his performance away from tumbling and contortion and developed as a patter singer and comedian – it was this development that led him to create gossipy comic male and female characters that his audiences loved. Returning to London he became a big star of the pre-eminent theatres and went on to also star in pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he created some memorable pantomime roles such as Mother Goose. His health deteriortated and he began to become irrational and forgetting his lines. He was thought to be insane, and spent time in the Camberwell Asylum, but it is now widely accepted that he was suffering from a brain tumour that changed his personality and eventually killed him at the young age of 43.

A Marvellous Party! Novello & Noel

A Marvellous Party! –  Novello & Noel

By David Slattery-Christy – With Music by Noel Coward & Ivor Novello

 

“The characters are all young, vibrant and in their prime, untroubled by the tread-mill that was life. They exist only as shadows in the history of theatre and the land that was revue and musical comedy.” (script notes) DSC

For many years now I have harboured and idea to write a play with music that was based on one of Ivor Novello’s famous parties at his flat that sits on top of the now Novello Theatre in the West End. During his life it was a regular venue for late night gatherings and was frequented by Noel Coward, Mary Ellis, Lily Elsie, Elisabeth Welch and anyone who was anyone in the theatre.

Last year whilst working with BBC Radio 3 on a special Composer of the Week on Novello (as script consultant and guest of the week), I visited the famous flat during the recording of the show with Donald Macleod, who presents Composer of the Week, Luke Whitlock (producer) and Rosy Runciman the archivist for Cameron Mackintosh Ltd who now own the flat and use it as offices and Operations Manager Billy Differ. Remarkably after the passing of so many years it still retains a special atmosphere and is very recognisable still. Although Novello’s pianos are long gone from the music room, people say they still hear piano music playing sometimes in the far distance. When they investigate of course there is nothing there and the sound turns to silence. This experience made me start to put together and idea that has developed in A Marvellous Party! Novello & Noel

Set in Ivor Novello’s flat during the early hours, constructed like a play, and features Ivor, Noel Coward, Mary Ellis, Graham Payne and Elisabeth Welch. It features music by both Novello and Coward in equal measure. I have had great fun writing this and more importantly it allows space for these characters to come alive and tell their stories – giving the audience a glimpse into their work and relationships with each other and the world they lived in. I am also delighted that Ross Leadbetter will be developing the project with me and adapting the musical numbers.

Images: ivor Novello; Noel Coward; Mary Ellis; Elisabeth Welch; Graham Payne.

More information coming as soon as it is available –

      

 

                                                                                                                             The Music Room at ‘The Flat’

Dan Leno – A Royal Jester!

Dan Leno – A Royal Jester!

A New Play in Two Acts

By David Slattery-Christy

Delighted to announce that this play will receive its world premiere at this year’s Lytham Festival. 18 – 22 July 2018 at the Wesley Hall Theatre, Westby Street Lytham.

More Details and Casting Coming Soon. You will be in for a Royle Treat!

Delighted to say I am working on a new play based on the life and career of the legendary Victorian music-hall and Drury Lane pantomime star Dan Leno. It is something that has been in my mind for more than 25 years now. Even before that I had read much about, and become facinated by, the legend that was Dan Leno.

During the mid 1990’s I was lucky to have been given access to the private archive at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to research material to do with Novello. One afternoon whilst there I was working away and on the far side of the room I heard the sound of papers falling from a shelf. Crossing the room I remember seeing the smiling face of Dan Leno staring back at me from an old publicity photograph. On further inspection I realised that the papers that had fallen were a part of piles of old contracts and programnmes and photographs of Dan Leno’s time at Drury Lane from 1888 to 1903 – when he appeared in the annual pantomimes and created some great and unique dame roles.

That experience has stayed with me all these years and actually brings a chill to my bones when I think of it now. How odd that those particular papers should of their own accord slip off the shelf and draw my attention? That said, it is common knowledge at Drury Lane that Dan makes himself known at times either back stage in the dressing room areas or in the wings on first nights – especially when he wants to help someone. They say that if you see him in the wings on a first night it means the show will be a hit. The picture I have attached to this article is the image of Dan Leno that smiled back at me that day – it shows him as Sister Anne in the pantomime Bluebeard at Drury Lane 1901.

From then on I have thought I must write a play. Recently I saw a pantomime and finally saw a performer who could play Dan Leno and bring all his facial, physical and comedic talents and give us a glimpse again of the greatness that was Dan Leno. It was like the final piece of a jigsaw for me – one that has enabled me to now set about the task of writing the play.

Dan Leno

(George Wild Galvin) 1860-1904

                                                             

Other People’s Fu**ing – An Oxford Affair

Other People’s Fu**ing!

An Oxford Affair

By David Slattery-Christy

Very excited to have completed my new play based on the relationship between historian and All Souls Fellow A.L. Rowse and Prussian activist Adam von Trott. The play covers the period they met in Oxford from 1929 through to the 1930s. There are many twists, turns and surprises along the way.

        Adam von Trott – Oxford circa. 1930

Drawn from Rowse’s memoirs it charts their strange, homoerotic relationship that was conducted in the stifled atmosphere of All Souls. Their illicit affair was shocking and liberating for them both. It defied convention and the law that made homosexual behaviour a criminal offense, and it could have jeopardized Rowse’s position.

“When he came up my stairs that night I was just going up to dress for dinner, I looked over the bannister into his eyes turned to me brimming with light. They are of a rare violet colour, but of a liquid softness I have never seen before.”

Rowse describing seeing Adam for the first time at All Souls, Oxford, 1929.

Trott’s influence on Rowse would affect him for the rest of his life, and would change his attitudes to both homosexulaity, politics and the social history of the 20th century.

Adam von Trott was part of the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. He was found guilty of treason and executed by the Nazis along with his conspirators. Rowse was inconsolable when he heard the fate of his one true love. For indeed he had loved Adam.

Alfred Leslie Rowse (1903-1997)

Adam von Trott zu Solz (1909-1944)

A.L. Rowse (centre) Oxford 1926.

The title of the play is inspired by an embittered quote by Rowse in his last years:

“I don’t want to have my money scalped off me to maintain other people’s children. I don’t like other people; I particularly don’t like their children; I deeply disapprove of their proliferation making the globe uninhabitable. The fucking idiots – I don’t want to pay for their fucking.” A.L. Rowse

A.L. Rowse in his study at Trenarron, Cornwall during his last years.

I have a personal connection to A.L. Rowse as my own father knew him at All Souls, Oxford, during the 1950s and 1960s. My sister remembers going to his rooms at All Souls and making toast on the coal fire – also holidaying as a family at his home Trenarron in Cornwall.

David Slattery-Christy – 9/1/2017

Centenary of USA Entering WW1 – Mildred On The Marne

Centenary of USA Entering WW1 – April 2017

Mildred on the Marne. Mildred Aldrich, Front-line Witness 1914-1918
By David Slattery-Christy
“The sun shines, and my heart is high, this is a great day. The Stars and Stripes are flying at my gate, and they are flying all over France.” Declared a delighted Mildred on hearing the news that her beloved homeland was finally entering the war to support the Allies in April 1917. But she added somewhat cautiously after the first rush of excitement: “It is not, I know, today or tomorrow that it will all end; it is not next year, or in many years, that poor Poland’s three mutilated parts can be joined and healed in harmony; and oh! How long is it going to be before all the sorrow and hatred that Germany has brought on the world can either be comforted or forgotten! But at least we are sure now of the course the treatment is going to take…”

(Mildred Aldrich diaries. Mildred on the Marne. Mildred Aldrich Front-line Witness 1914-1918)

Available from the History Press – Amazon – and all good bookstores in Hardback and Ebook editions. More information at www.christyplays.com

Mildred On The Marne, David Slattery-Christy

Mildred’s house , La Creste, on the hill at Huiry, France. Overlooking the Marne Valley and River.

 

Other People’s Fu**ing – An Oxford Affair

Other People’s Fu**ing!

An Oxford Affair

By David Slattery-Christy

Very excited to have completed my new play based on the relationship between historian and All Souls Fellow A.L. Rowse and Prussian activist Adam von Trott. The play covers the period they met in Oxford from 1929 through to the 1930s. There are many twists, turns and surprises along the way.

        Adam von Trott – Oxford circa. 1930

Drawn from Rowse’s memoirs it charts their strange, homoerotic relationship that was conducted in the stifled atmosphere of All Souls. Their illicit affair was shocking and liberating for them both. It defied convention and the law that made homosexual behaviour a criminal offense, and it could have jeopardized Rowse’s position.

“When he came up my stairs that night I was just going up to dress for dinner, I looked over the bannister into his eyes turned to me brimming with light. They are of a rare violet colour, but of a liquid softness I have never seen before.”

Rowse describing seeing Adam for the first time at All Souls, Oxford, 1929.

Trott’s influence on Rowse would affect him for the rest of his life, and would change his attitudes to both homosexulaity, politics and the social history of the 20th century.

Adam von Trott was part of the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. He was found guilty of treason and executed by the Nazis along with his conspirators. Rowse was inconsolable when he heard the fate of his one true love. For indeed he had loved Adam.

Alfred Leslie Rowse (1903-1997)

Adam von Trott zu Solz (1909-1944)

A.L. Rowse (centre) Oxford 1926.

The title of the play is inspired by an embittered quote by Rowse in his last years:

“I don’t want to have my money scalped off me to maintain other people’s children. I don’t like other people; I particularly don’t like their children; I deeply disapprove of their proliferation making the globe uninhabitable. The fucking idiots – I don’t want to pay for their fucking.” A.L. Rowse

A.L. Rowse in his study at Trenarron, Cornwall during his last years.

I have a personal connection to A.L. Rowse as my own father knew him at All Souls, Oxford, during the 1950s and 1960s. My sister remembers going to his rooms at All Souls and making toast on the coal fire – also holidaying as a family at his home Trenarron in Cornwall.

David Slattery-Christy – 9/1/2017

Casting Opportunity / Elvira & I – Puccini’s Scandalous Passions!

Elvira & I – Puccini’s Scandalous Passions!

I am producing a try-out production of my new play at this year’s Lytham Festival – performances 2 to 6 August with rehearsals in the Lytham / Blackpool area. Auditions will be held at the start of April in Lytham.

The play explores the relationship between opera composer Puccini and his eventual wife, Elvira. It is set in their villa at Tore del Lago, Italy, at the time he was composing Madama Butterfly. The play includes adult themes, mental health issues and also suicide. It is based on actual events in their life.

I will be casting for:

Luigi – playing age 30+
Elvira – playing age 40+. Elegant woman but insecure.
Ida – playing age 35+. Elvira’s sister and housekeeper. Practical and no nonsense.
Iginia – playing age 40+. Puccini’s sister and a mother superior with a religious order. Kind and wise nature but steely.
Doria – playing age 20+. Maid at the Puccini villa. Naive and charming.

The production is profit-share with a fringe contract. If anyone would like to audition please email me with CV details and a picture in the first instance to slatterychristy@aol.co.uk

Thank you.
Yours Sincerely,

David Slattery-Christy
Author & Playwright
www.christyplays.com
@DSCAuthor

Puccini

Mildred on the Marne – Centenary Edition for USA Entering WW1 in 1917

Delighted to announce that my biography on American Mildred Aldrich is available in hardback for this year’s centenary of the USA entering WW1. The anniversary will be on 8th April, 2017. Mildred was overjoyed back in 1917 and had campaigned hard for her homeland to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Her home overlooking the Marne Valley in France had been at the forefront of the war – she stayed for the duration to help British and French soldiers. Her accounts of life for French civilians trying to live their daily lives whilst the conflict raged is also fascinating.

“The Stars & Stripes are flying at my gate, and they are flying all over France. What is more they will be flying – if they are not already – over Westminster, for the first time in history.”

Mildred Aldrich/ April 1917

More details coming soon.

Published by the History Press and Spellmount in the UK and the USA

Mildred on the Marne. Mildred Aldrich, Frontline Witness 1914-1918

Book Cover – Mildred’s House La Creste at Huiry, France – Amelie, Mildred’s friend and femme de manage