Christmas is a big time at Brick Lane Music Hall, with Vincent’s Christmas Wonderland running from mid-November, right up until December 22nd. The staff and artists put so much into creating the best Christmas experience possible for our customers, we wondered how they would be celebrating Christmas themselves. We started by asking some of our artists ….
The Nativity Factor
I’ll be going to see the Christmas lights at Kew Gardens with my old friends from school. On Christmas Day all my family go to my sister and brother-in-law’s house for a big family dinner. My 6 year old nephew wants us to put on a nativity for the family! On New Year’s Eve, I’ll be performing – dancing in a 1920’s show. The cast are all my friends, so it should be fun. Then back to Brick Lane ready for the panto’!
Myself and Dan are really looking forward to shooting off to Bristol to spend what we hope will be a peaceful Christmas with my family and friends. Christmas Eve will be spent doing the usual last minute wrapping, carolling at Midnight Mass and having a quick drink in the local pub,before going home and waiting for Father Christmas to come.
Christmas Day will be spent with my family for the big Christmas dinner, board games and the Strictly Christmas Special!Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
This year will be the same mostly as others with a few additions. Two days before Christmas – it’s an early visit to Billingsgate to pick up crayfish for a Christmas dinner starter. Then I make gravy and three different types of stuffing on Christmas Eve before leaving to conduct the choir at my local church for our midnight mass.
Christmas day, my wife and I usually get up before dawn and watch our two children open their presents before having a snooze as the day dawns. Then it’s off to Brentwood cathedral for service with their magnificent choir. After mass we go home for, amongst other things, a glass of champagne and later we have dinner and then usually pop round to my father in law for drinks, more present giving and usually a monopoly marathon.
Other highlights this Christmas include “Treasure Island” at the National Theatre and family ice skating at Somerset House, where my children (Omar aged 9 and Tallulah aged 7) skate. I circumnavigate the rink holding onto the hoardings for dear life while my wife drinks mulled wine and takes photographs of me in various ungainly poses. Love it! Bill Byrne
Our theme this year for Vincent’s Christmas Wonderland, is an animal circus, with, of course, Vincent Hayes as ringmaster. Visitors to the show have been treated to sumptuous lighting, as well as sound upgrades which make this the most spectacular year ever, with people enjoying the richness of the sound as well as the festive feel to the theatre.
Our circus theme is continued on stage, pictured above, Vincent Hayes MBE.
Each window is decorated with a different set of “big cat” performers.
Paul James plays the clown. With him on stage, left to right, Stephanie Sen, Laura Hayward and Lottie Johnson.
Christmas is now officially in full swing at Brick Lane Music Hall, with a spectacular show to celebrate the festive season in amazing style. Pictured below, our talented cast, starting with the lovely Mr Tommy Knapp.
Below, left to right, the very glamorous Stephanie Sen, Laura Hayward and Lottie Johnson.
In fine voice, Mr Bill Byrne.
Gorgeous as ever, Mr Andrew Robley.
In glittering form, Mr Paul James.
And – what more can we say?- Mr Vincent Hayes MBE.
Vincent’s Christmas Wonderland runs until December 22nd.
It was all hands on deck for four days while Brick Lane Music Hall was transformed into this year’s Christmas Wonderland. As rehearsals went on, a whole team took charge of the theatre, installing a new state-of-the-art sound system, impressive lighting, stage sets and, of course, decorations, which this year follow the theme of a woodland winter wonderland complete with animal circus!
Troops of animals lined up to be costumed, from a dog band, to cheeky chimpanzees and impressive big cats. All have received a Brick Lane Music Hall makeover and can be seen from Friday, November 14th up until the end of our panto’ in March.
A heartfelt thanks to all those who worked so tirelessly to make this year’s wonderland one to remember. We’re sure all our visitors to the Music Hall over the festive season will enjoy their efforts and we hope it will help to make their visit even more special.
The RAF roundel was just one of the many wreaths and poppies placed at the War Memorial in the grounds of Brick Lane Music Hall in loving memory of former servicemen, in a moving Remembrance Sunday Service attended this year by over 400 people, including local schoolchildren, members of the Silvertown and Woolwich British Legion, Music Hall staff, local residents and members of Newham Council, including the deputy Mayor.
The service included songs and poems by local children as well as artists from Brick Lane Music Hall and the Caledonia Pipe Band. Afterwards, tea, coffee and cakes were served inside the theatre before the official parade back to the British Legion.
Photographs by Robert Rogers. Many thanks to Robert who laid the RAF roundel in memory of his uncle Jack and his crew, killed in action 70 years ago this year, plus other members of his family who died in service of the country, mostly in the local area.
Vincent Hayes MBE leads the cast of There’ll Always Be An England, our 2014 Wartime Music Hall Show, left to right: Paul James, Hayley-Jo Whitney, Tommy Knapp, Laura Hayward, Bill Byrne, Andrew Robley, Isabel Wroe-Wright, Alan McHale, Laura Sillett and Vincent Hayes MBE.
This year’s show pays special tribute to the First World War, to mark its Centenary year, including a dramatic re-enactment of men being recruited for the services by Florrie Forde, played by Hayley-Jo Whitney.
Below, left to right, Tommy Knapp, Bill Byrne, Andrew Robley and Alan McHale in fine voice.
Paul James as Arthur and Vincent Hayes as Ruth, seeing war as no excuse to let your style standards slip.
Music hall reached new heights of popularity during the First World War, with a unique ability to reflect the spirit of the nation. Florrie Forde, Marie Lloyd (below, centre left), Geroge Robey, Harry Lauder and Vesta Tilley all reached the height of their fame during the years of the Great War, their patriotic songs on everyone’s lips, including the soldiers on the front line. “Keep the home fires burning”, “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag” were like anthems, both at home and at the front.
Music hall artists took an active part in recruitment for the armed forces. Male impersonator Vesta Tilley (above, centre right) performed dressed as a soldier. She became known as “England’s Greatest Recruiting Sergeant” because she would sing rousing songs about the army and invite audience members to come up onto the stage to sign up there and then. At one show in Hackney she signed 300 new recruits.
The artists toured hospitals, sold War Bonds, sang at recruitment rallies and went to the front. Such was the importance attached to the songs to maintain morale among servicemen, that in nearly every army billet and even on board naval ships, concert parties were held regularly, with pianos provided with other essential supplies. Troops kept themselves entertained, with organised Pierrot troupes mirroring the troupes in the music halls of the day and individuals performing in regular concert parties, where music hall songs were the order of the day.
Lance Corporal Tommy Keele of the Middlesex Regiment joined the Ace of Spades concert party as “First Girl”, taking the stage name Dot Keele.
Our Wartime show, which opens on 22nd October, this year plays special tribute to the Great War in acknowledgement of the special Centenary of the beginning of the First World War in 1914. You can also read more about the contribution of Music Hall to the war effort in our Special Souvenir Programme which commemorates the Centenary.
We have been absolutely delighted with the success of our new show, Be Bop A Lula. As reported earlier on Backstage News, the show is the biggest ever staged at Brick Lane Music Hall and has been an opportunity to introduce no less than four recent Musical Theatre graduates. It has been a delight to welcome them and see them merge seamlessly into the show. A heartfelt thank you to all of them for their hard work, as well as to the rest of the cast for making the show so much fun for all involved. Pictured above, Be Bop A Lula, “the boys”, left to right, Alec White, Alan McHale, Ben Goffe and Tommy Knapp.
Girlie glamour, above, left to right, Laura Haywood, Catherine Dennison, Stephanie Sen. And below, special guest artist, Jess Conrad bringing his own unique brand of glamour to the line-up.
Of course, no Brick Lane Music Hall line-up could be complete without the inimitable Paul James and Vincent Hayes MBE. As well as starring in the show, both were very much involved in its creation, with Paul James (left) being our in-house musical expert, responsible for the authentic music and song choices, and Brick Lane Music Hall founder, Vincent Hayes (right) Directing the show.
Special mention must also go here to Hayley Jane Simmons for her brilliant choreography; Kevin Roach for some spectacular light and sound design and Zara Kattan for costuming and overall production management and design. We hope to make this celebration of the 1950’s a regular feature of our annual programme.
Rusty Goffe dropped by to watch his son Ben who is starring in Brick Lane Music Hall’s 1950’s show, Be Bop A Lula. Pictured backstage (right) with Ben (left). Behind them (left to right) Vincent Hayes, Paul James, Jess Conrad and Alec White before the show. Below, spot Ben with the cast of Be Bop A Lula in full swing. The show plays until October 11th.