Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Luke’s first step to stage stardom

I HAVE commented many times in this column how lucky we are in the Lyme area to have so many talented amateur stage performers.

The quality of shows put on by the local operatic (now Lyme Regis Musical Theatre), Lyme Regis Dramatic Society and the Lyme Regis Pantomime Society,  not to mention those over the Devon border, seem to get better every year. The bar is currently at a very high level - can it go higher?

In years past my favourite performers included Elaine Kendrick (nee Broom) and Elizabeth Broome (nee Searle).  Today I have many favourites, among them the multi-talented Nicky Sweetland, now working for me very successfully as my theatre critic for our London papers, Kelly Apps (nee Street) and the incomparable Brian Rattenbury.

In the panto society Brian’s daughter, Gemma Hatton, always makes me laugh and this year’s principal girl, Melissa Denslow, is going to be another rare find.

So it was brilliant to hear this week that another Street - Luke, son of former town crier Phil and wife Dawn - is about to take his first tentative steps towards stardom - not on the local stage but in the West End.

As reported on our front page, it has just been confirmed that Luke is to appear in the West End revival of Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre, playing alongside three-times Olivier award-winner Imelda Staunton and former Dr Who Peter Davison.

The Streets are a rare breed when it comes to theatrical talent. Luke’s granddad is Billy Street, president of the Pantomime Society and for many years Lyme’s panto dame, a role also taken by his father Phil, and mum Dawn also has an excellent singing voice. It seems that the theatre is in their blood and Phil actually proposed to Dawn on the Marine stage.

The couple now live in France where Phil, much missed in Lyme, works in the aviation industry.

And it doesn’t end there. Luke’s sister, Amy, is hoping to follow in her brother’s footsteps and is currently studying at the Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford where Luke honed his acting and singing skills. What odds on talented Amy also making it to the West End?

I first realised Luke’s talent when he was a finalist in Lyme’s Got Talent which I organised in 2011 and he also demonstrated his all-round ability by starring in a number of productions at the Woodroffe School.

Gypsy opens at the Savoy Theatre on London's Strand on the April 15th for a strictly limited run.  

Nicky Sweetland will be reviewing that show for us - and I have no doubt that there will be more than a sprinkling of Streets in the audience to witness Luke’s tentative steps to theatre stardom.

INTEREST is growing over who - or who will not - be seeking election when the town goes to the poll to choose a new council in May. I know of at least four new candidates who say they intend to seek election,  the names of whom we will publish in due course.

But what people really want to know is which of the existing 14 councillors will stand again. Next week we will try to find out by contacting each councillor asking if they intend to seek re-election.   

It’s doubtful they will all respond... but that’s their prerogative. 

It’s just a bit of fun - oh, yes it is!

THERE’S been some talk about town over the fairness of town councillors being ridiculed at local pantomime performances. Oh, yes there is!

Last week Councillor Mark Gage was the subject of a fairly inoffensive jibe at the Lyme Regis Pantomime’s production of Aladdin.

I don’t know what Mark thought about it (we are not exactly on speaking terms, as you can imagine), but as a seasoned councillor I doubt that he was much troubled. 

But,  as I know full well, having made myself fairly unpopular in certain circles in the town, through this column, over the years, it is often the family of those in public positions that suffer the most. I’m sure Mrs Evans will agree.

This is not a new phenomenom.  Over the years I have been on the receiving end of a number of remarks at pantos I have been covering. 

I’ve always taken it as a bit of fun,  being of the opinion if you dish it out you have to be prepared to take it.  I can also remember getting in deep water some years ago when I was compering the town band’s Christmas concert and said the town council wanted to put on their own Nativity but could not find three wise men.  It went down well with the audience but, oh boy, the councillors were not amused.

I remember one specific occasion when I was given my comeuppance. I was foolish enough to mention in my column that my great pal John Stamp was appearing in the Charmouth panto and went on to comment on his potential acting skills.

When I arrived to cover the panto Jackie and I were ushered into the front row. Jackie immediately smelt a rat, saying ”‘You’re going to be stitched up here”.

She was right. I was dragged up onto the stage and dressed and made up as a woman, much to the delight of the audience, especially when John Stamp poked his head around the curtain and said: “Every dog has his day!”

Since that time I always make sure I sit towards the back of every panto I attend so I can make a quick exit when they are looking for gullible souls to be embarrassed up on stage.

But as I say, if you dish it out...

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