Our very first pantomime at Brick Lane Music Hall was Cinderella, with the late great Tommy Osborne and Tony Page (pictured above) as the Ugly Sisters.
While times move on, some traditions will never die and over the years Brick Lane Music Hall has played host to some of the greatest dames in the business, from the much-loved Colin Devereaux (aka Dockyard Doris) and Phil Starr, to the most famous dame of them all, Mr Danny La Rue, who appeared many times to sell out houses from the early days in Brick Lane, right through to 2008 where he gave his last official performance at our current home in Silvertown.
The dame currently treading the Brick Lane Music Hall boards is Nigel Ellacott, who plays Dame Vera Minge in Babes in the Wood. Seen below backstage with Andrew Robley (the Sheriff of Loosebottom), Nigel has been playing dame for over thirty years. Nigel made his Brick Lane Music Hall debut as dame in 2014, when he played Betty Swallocks in Big Dick Whittington.
This week in February 1992, Vincent Hayes was putting the finishing touches to his ambitious venture, a brand new music hall, the first music hall to open in Britain since the Second World War. Vincent chose Brick Lane because it was at the vibrant heart of the East End. At the time the area was still run-down, with the iconic Truman Brewery building standing empty, its former canteen disused. Vincent took a chance on both the venue and the public’s appetite for music hall shows. Loving music hall himself, he felt that there was no reason others shouldn’t love it too, especially since he intended to create a music hall fit for the times.
The Truman Brewery and Brick Lane proved to be the perfect starting point for Vincent’s venture, so much so that within a few years the business needed to move to larger premises, first in Shoreditch and then on to Silvertown, though retaining its original name. Brick Lane Music Hall has always represented Vincent’s own unique take on music hall, with laughter the key ingredient. It is safe to say that Vincent has successfully re-ignited the public’s love of this very British form of entertainment.
The original bar in Brick Lane, which opened for business in February 1992.
One of the early line-ups: left to right, Peter John, Barbara Windsor, Brian Walker, Judith Hibbert and Vincent Hayes
This cartoon appeared in the London Evening Standard, where Robert Gore-Langton in one of our earliest reviews, wrote “There is an atmosphere of dissenting comic anarchy in tune with the original spirit of music hall. It also has the most socially diverse audience I have ever seen in one room. The night I went, the Bishop of Lancaster was at a table with a nun and two monks.”
Vincent Hayes on stage with the late Danny La Rue, who was one of Brick Lane Music Hall’s great early supporters.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air in Silvertown, where cupid has arrived with his golden arrow…. in the form of Rusty Goffe, in Babes in the Wood. Rusty plays Big John alongside Alan McHale as Will Scarlett.
Pictured above, The Merry Men themselves. Our most popular panto’ yet, Babes in the Wood plays until March 7th. Please join us for the fun – maybe bring your loved one for that special celebration – but make sure you watch out for cupid’s arrow ….
At the end of the first week of our pantomime, Babes in the Wood, we thought you would like to see just some of the comments that were posted on TripAdvisor in one day –
Click on TripAdisor on the home page to read these reviews in full. Brick Lane Music Hall is currently the Number One Theatre in London – as voted by our audiences. This is not only a tribute to the quality of our shows and the talent of our artists, but to all the hard work that goes on backstage and front of house to ensure that a visit to Brick Lane Music Hall is the most enjoyable experience we can possibly make it.
Well done and thank you to all our staff – and thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to leave their reviews.