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 Senn. 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.
In 2013, Brick Lane Music Hall founder, Vincent Hayes, was awarded an MBE for his services to British music hall. This was in recognition of the way Brick Lane Music Hall has kept music hall current and relevant to a modern-day audience. One of the key ways this has been achieved has been by providing opportunities for emerging artists to work alongside established industry professionals. Scouts from Brick Lane Music Hall regularly attend student showcases from the leading musical theatre schools and auditions are held regularly to spot suitable candidates to join the shows.
Be Bop A Lula, a lively Fifties review, has offered the perfect opportunity to introduce no less that four recent graduates to our line up. Catherine Dennison, Laura Hayward and Alec White were all spotted at Mountview earlier this year and Tommy Knapp is from Italia Conti. They play alongside Ben Goffe, in his first appearance at Brick Lane Music Hall, although his father Rusty Goffe, will be familiar to Panto’ audiences; Stephanie Senn, who first appeared at Brick Lane Music Hall in Big Dick Whittington this year; and Brick Lane Music Hall regular, Alan McHale. To complete the line-up, we will have no less than Vincent Hayes MBE, Paul James and special guest artist, the legendary Jess Conrad!
Pictured: rehearsals for Be Bop A Lula, our biggest show yet!
Left to right, Alec White, Laura Hayward, Stephanie Senn, Catherine Dennison, Paul James, Vincent Hayes, Alan McHale, Tommy Knapp, Ben Goffe.
Vincent Hayes MBE appeared on stage this week with Andrew Robley, dressed in the iconic costume of fur coat and battered hat of one of the most popular music hall and variety comedians of the 20th Century. You could win free tickets to our fifties show Be Bop A Lula, on Saturday, September 27th, if you can tell us who Vincent’s tribute was to.
If you can name the comedian, who, with a career spanning over 30 years, was a household name during the whole of the 1950’s, appearing in nearly every Royal Variety Show of that decade, send your answer in an email to the Box Office, with your name and phone number, between now and Sunday, September 21st to be placed in our prize draw. The prize will be 2 free tickets to our Saturday Matinee, including tasty afternoon tea, on September 27th, 2014. The winner will be notified on September 22nd.
You can still book tickets to our all-new show, Be Bop A Lula on selected dates. With a distinct 50’s rock and roll flavour, with our biggest show cast ever! Vincent will be leading the show, with a multi-talented line-up, starring Paul James, with special guest artist Jess Conrad, also starring Brick Lane Music Hall regular Alan McHale and introducing Ben Goffe, PLUS full supporting cast!
The new season opens at Brick Lane Music Hall on September 10th, with our lively Music Hall show, the Cockney Sing-Song!
This is followed by our not-to-be missed brand new show, Be Bop A Lula, based on songs from the 1950’s, which opens on September 27th.
New listings will be sent to all customers on our database shortly. If you would like to receive a copy and are not on the database, ring the Box Office to register, or complete the contact form on this website. Please remember to book early to avoid disappointment and we look forward to welcoming you soon!
In loving memory of his father, John Arthur Rogers, one of our regular customers, Robert Rogers, gave a donation to the Brick Lane Music Hall Charity which enabled us to take out a show to the Royal Star and Garter Home for Ex-servicemen and women.
As a young Royal Engineer, John Arthur Rogers took part in the D-Day landings, Operation Overlord. Pictured below, second on the left, his unit were sent over to construct the Mulberry Harbour – which Robert’s grandfather had helped to make in the local Blackwall Docks. In fact, the Rogers family contributed much locally to the war effort. John Arthur served in Europe until 1947, dying in 1986 of complications arising from his service. Robert’s Uncle Jack, John Edward Cowan, served in the RAF, while his other grandfather served as ARP Warden on the home front in Canning Town. Killed by enemy action, Rogers Road is named in his honour.
Staff and residents at the Star and Garter were very moved to hear about Robert’s father, having lost their last survivor of D-Day only last week. By co-incidence, both he and John Arthur had been deployed on “Gold Beach” during the landings, so there was a great sense of connection in the room and appreciation of Robert’s kind gesture in sending the Brick Lane Music Hall team along.
The show was led by Brian Walker, with Michael Topping as MD, and starred Lowri Ann Richards and Bill Byrne who have recently both appeared at Brick Lane Music Hall in our Seaside Special. It was an afternoon that will be remembered for a very long time.
With five schools participating in our Schools Programme this year, and with our team busier than ever working towards five separate end of year productions of Oliver, we felt we had another mission for our star reporter, Nigel Ellacott.
An authority on theatre and pantomime, Nigel is a writer and performer and the author of its-behind-you.com.Seen here backstage with Vincent Hayes during Big Dick Whittington, Nigel will be known to Brick Lane Music Hall audiences for his performance as Betty Swallocks. Throughout the panto’, we all eagerly tuned in to Nigel’s daily news round-up in Betty’s Blog.
Nigel went along to Tollgate Primary School, Plaistow, to see how the team were getting on. You can read his full report by clicking this link to ourOut and Aboutpage.
As the Tour de France sweeps past Brick Lane Music Hall and on to its next stage, our artists make a grand departure from the stage for the Summer break. Above, Vincent Hayes MBE leads the cast in the finale of the final performance of our Seaside Special. And below, left to right, Bill Byrne, Paul James and Ross Tomlinson and Lowri Ann Richards with Anna Campkin.
Bill Byrne and Lowri Ann Richards join Brian Walker and Michael Topping next week for a very special Outreach show at the Royal Star and Garter Home for Retired Servicemen and Women. While Ross Tomlinson continues working in our schools programme, along with artists Joni Talks, Hayley-Jo Whitney, Alan McHale and Jeff Chandler, with final performances of Oliver over the next two weeks. Brick Lane Music Hall re-opens in September with the Cockney Sing Song.