Wilton's

News

Stories and announcements

16Mar. 2017.

The truth and magic in storytelling



Undermined was conceived when Danny Mellor was required to write, direct and star in a piece as a final showcase for his MA at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. As the grandson of a South Yorkshire miner, with the 30th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike looming, he saw the opportunity to create a show about a subject close to his heart.



There’s nothing quite so compelling, thought-provoking or entertaining as storytelling at its best. So Danny becomes Dale, down the pub with a pint, simply telling it like it was. Based on real events and first-hand accounts, stories of ordinary and extraordinary day to day events in the lives of ordinary and extraordinary miners and their families during brutal times. No sensational news reports, no politicians, no rhetoric. Just tales of the day a police superintendent in a range rover tried to mow down a snowman, a tedious drive in search of an elusive Welsh pit, an ingeniously simple but effective prank to make fools of riot police. Stories to make you laugh, cry, rage, or all three.



Undermined
’s first airing in Edinburgh attracted high praise: “If only there could be more one man shows like this at the Fringe” (Stef O’Driscoll, Associate Director Paines Plough & Artistic Director of Inner City Theatre); “Other actors could do with taking a leaf out of Danny Mellor’s book. The book would be called How to do a One Man Show Properly” (Chloe St George, EdFringe Review). Such is Danny's craft and passion in conveying the humanity at the heart of one of this country's most controversial and damaging disputes.

If you have read our History Book by Carole Zeidman, you will know that the Methodist Mission at Wilton’s played an important role during times of hardship caused by another historic strike - the dockers’ strike of 1889. Here’s an extract from Carole’s book:

"In 1889 dockers in the port of London went on strike demanding wages of 6d an hour for a minimum of four hours’ work a day. The strike for ‘the dockers’ tanner’ became a landmark in British labour history. Almost everyone living in and around Cable Street, Ratcliffe Highway and Wellclose Square was affected by the strike. John Jameson, the first minister at The Mahogany Bar reported ‘Here we are in the thick of it. This morning it was piteous to see the people. Some of them had had no food for three days’. Peter Thompson, the first superintendent of the East End Mission encouraged the dockers to hold their union meetings at The Mahogany Bar and set up a soup kitchen there to feed the starving dockers and their families.”

All of which makes us doubly proud and thrilled to welcome Danny, duly equipped with pint and chair, to our stage next week. You can catch Undermined 21 to 25 March and can buy tickets here. Cheers!


Read more
23Feb. 2017.

What it is to be Human



We all know the story of Frankenstein, don’t we? At least, we think we do, even though many of us have never actually read it. We’ve probably seen plenty of film adaptations and we can all conjure up the image of Boris Karloff lumbering around in an ill-fitting suit with bolts through his neck. Which is not a million miles from where writer Tristan Bernays and director Eleanor Rhode were coming from when they threw all that out of the window and each burrowed into Mary Shelley’s often rambling, sub-plot-ridden novel to unearth what really excited them about it.


They soon found that they were of the same mind, underlining the same passages - unsurprisingly, as they have collaborated closely and to Offie-Award-winning effect before, with Teddy at Southwark playhouse. Their strong connection and shared artistic vision have sparked an interpretation of Frankenstein like no other.

Stripped back to the bare bones in every way, this production allows audiences’ imaginations to go to work and builds atmosphere, layer upon layer.  We see a cast of only two, George Fletcher playing both Frankenstein and Creature, and Rowena Lennon in the role of Chorus, observing, highlighting and reflecting the characters’ thoughts and actions through sound and music. The world presented on-stage is barely dressed yet richly furnished by sound designer David Gregory, blending natural and electronic, music and ambient noise, to create an absorbing soundscape, made all the more magical by Lawrence T Doyle’s almost hypnotic lighting.



This is Creature’s world where, for Eleanor and Tristan, the beating and, ultimately, broken heart of the story lies. We see him as an innocent child, yet in a full-grown, monstrous body that he doesn’t understand how to use. He is struggling to develop and survive but without the love, protection and nurturing that a child needs. Eleanor was particularly fascinated by his schooling, courtesy of the blind man, in the works of Milton, Plutarch and Werther and the way that part of the story ‘really forces you to stop and think, of all the things that you’ve learnt over a course of a lifetime and how you take those things for granted’.

Movement Director, Tom Jackson Greaves, took George back to the very basics to examine the physicality of a child’s incremental control over muscles and cognition and development of awareness, movement, dexterity and language. The result is a unique interpretation and we’ll leave it for you to wonder how they handle the scene where both Creature and Frankenstein meet and to be captivated by what you see when they do.


George Fletcher in rehearsal

Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote the book. The story was concocted merely to amuse and impress Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and other guests during a stay near Lake Geneva when what she described as the ‘ungenial’ summer of 1816 confined them indoors to entertain each other with scary tales. She did not originally intend it to be a great novel but it grew into a story that is destined to resonate through time. As Tristan Bernays puts it, Frankenstein is about ‘the dangers of science, parental responsibility, Good and Evil, the question of what it actually is to be human. These are massive universal themes in a story that will always be relevant and will always speak to people'.

If only Mary Shelly could see this extraordinary re-imagining of her work  - what would she make of it?

Frankenstein runs 7th to 18th March and you can book tickets here.

Photography by Philip Tull


Read more
4Jan. 2017.

The incredible true story of Tarrare The Freak - Part Two



Following on from Part One, which told the story of the man himself, we take a look at the fascinating research and development process behind Wattle & Daub's The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak.



Wattle & Daub writer and puppeteer, Tobi Poster, claims he found Tarrare’s story down the back of the internet as he wandered, lost in Wikipedia. Understandably, his first thought was 'How come no-one has ever turned this into a puppet opera?'

Haunted by the idea that Tarrare died believing he’d been killed by the golden fork that Baron Percy failed to find during the autoposy, Tobi’s thoughts turned to writing a libretto. Armed with a notebook containing translated phrases from Percy’s original autopsy notes, and together with his acclaimed pianist-composer brother, Tom, he wrote the opera’s opening song. I think we can safely say this was probably the first time autopsy findings have been used for such a purpose.

That was in 2012 and, by the middle of that year, with funding from Arts Council England and Bristol Theatre, Tom, Tobi and W&D Artistic Director, Laura Purcell Gates, had developed the story with help from writer Hattie Naylor. Both the score and prototype puppets were taking shape as they geared up to to a 15-minute work in progress showing at Bristol Ferment, which won considerable praise from Exeunt Magazine:Somehow this company, with a devising period of three weeks, have created magic through the careful concoction of puppetry and opera’. 



 Since then, this musical interpretation of Tarrare's bizarre and tragic life, has been slowly and sensitively, ahem, fleshed out to become the full scale 'monstrous chamber opera for puppets' that will be staged here at Wilton's. Along the way, they were joined by new members of the creative team, including Director Sita Calvert Ennals and puppeteer performer and maker Aya Nakamura.

Wattle & Daub fervently believe that puppets and objects have their own meanings and stories embedded within them, to be discovered and drawn out. This was at the heart of their devising sessions in which they allowed the puppets themselves to lead the creative process – and were often surprised by where that took them; for instance the realisation that, despite his entire life being governed by his insatiable appetite, poor Tarrare took no pleasure at all in eating. Other explorations included analysing movement in musical theatre performances, which revealed the importance of physical levels of tension, particularly in the sternum, during singing. This was one lesson which, with all due respect and despite their love for that motley puppet troupe, helped them to avoid what they describe as 'Muppet-style singing'. You can watch the team experimenting with some early ideas here.

Historical accounts have described Tarrare as both kind and decent as well as monstrous and freakish. Striking a balance between the two was one of the key issues Tobi and Laura wrestled with during the early stages of the story development with Hattie. As Tobi explains, 'So many of the details of his life are so grotesque - swallowing live cats, smuggling military documents in his stomach, eating amputated limbs, that it can be easy to simply revel in the monstrosity of it all'. They were, however, always clear on one crucial thing: 'We were telling the story of an actual human being and we felt a responsibility to do justice to that humanity. The big challenge is how to retain the essential humanity and genuine tragedy at the heart of the story. Yet it's a story about a freak show, so that tension runs through the whole show. For us, the most interesting route was to portray his humanity without shying away from the unpalatable elements - to make him relatable by sanitising his behaviour would have felt like the most significant betrayal of all'.



 As well as exploring the furthest reaches of humanity, the research and development process involved a crash course in the histories of medicine, pathology and disability. A Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award opened the door to inspirational and illuminating collaborations with a team of senior academics and experts in pathology, disability and medical phenomenology and humanities. There were also visits to fascinating (if occasionally gruesome) museums, including a trip to the Old Operating Theatre with Dr Alan Bates, who described to Laura and Tobi the sheer physical strength and force necessary to carry out an autopsy.

The complete work was premiered as part of the Bristol Old Vic Ferment Programme in September 2015 and, as an accompaniment to the show, W&D created a public engagement event titled Performing the Freak: A Dialogue between Science and the Arts about Monstrosity, in which they were joined onstage by some of their collaborators and other speakers to discuss the issues around medicine and monstrosity that have informed the show.

The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak
 runs 30th January to 18th February and you can book tickets here. Incidentally, this is probably your only chance to see an opera featuring a song entitled Gullet, so you’d be a fool to yourself if you missed it.

You can read Wattle & Daub's own R&D blog in full here.


Read more
19Dec. 2016.

The incredible true story of Tarrare The Freak - Part One



“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” So, it is claimed, said Mark Twain. He need have looked no further than the story of an 18th century Frenchman known as Tarrare for the perfect illustration of his adage. The details of this man's short but extraordinary life scarcely seem possible. As we're inclined to say today, you just couldn't make it up.




From 30th January to 18th February, one of the country's most talented puppetry companies, Wattle & Daub, will present this story in their highly distinctive way, as a 'monstrous chamber opera', hauntingly scored by acclaimed pianist and composer, Tom Poster. To describe Wattle & Daub's The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak as unusual is an understatement so we thought we would introduce it to you via a two-part blog. Here in Part One, you can find out the story behind the name and, in Part Two, discover more about Wattle & Daub's research and development process as they created this fascinating work, which took them to dark and strange places and led them to consult experts in fields not often associated with puppet theatre.

The man whose only known name is Tarrare was born near Lyon around 1772 and displayed an abnormally voracious appetite from birth. By his teens, he needed to consume at least his own body weight in meat every day and had been cast out by parents who were unable to feed him. Forced to survive as best he could, he took to begging and stealing with bands of thieves before joining travelling charlatans and sideshows and performing swallowing feats on the streets of Paris by eating stones, corks, whole baskets full of apples and even live animals.



When war broke out in 1792, Tarrare joined the French Revolutionary Army but collapsed with exhaustion when military rations failed to satisfy his extreme hunger. Even being granted quadruple rations was not enough to stop him scavenging for scraps in bins and gutters. He even fed on poultices stolen from the apothecary. Baffled senior military surgeons detained him to investigate his eating habits and fed him meals intended for 15 or more labourers as well as live cats, snakes, lizards and puppies before deciding that his digestive system should be put to military use smuggling documents swallowed in wooden boxes and retrieved after passing through his gut. His very first assignment which, unknown to him, contained only a dummy message as a 'test' mission, led to his capture and torture by the Prussians, culminating in a mock execution followed by yet more brutal beatings before being dumped by French lines.

Understandably desperate to avoid any more active service, Tarrare returned to the military hospital and begged the chief surgeon, Baron Percy, to do anything in his power to cure him. Everything failed; laudanum, wine vinegar, tobacco pills and numerous controlled diets were unable to stop him from escaping to scavenge for offal outside butchers' shops and fight for carrion on rubbish heaps. he was even caught trying to eat corpses in the hospital mortuary. Despite calls from many quarters for him to be sent to a lunatic asylum, Percy insisted on continuing his experiments but, when a toddler disappeared from the hospital, suspicion fell on Tarrare and he was driven out.



Four years later, Percy was summoned by a surgeon of the Versailles Hospital to find Tarrare dying from tuberculosis. He died within the month, aged around 26. An autopsy revealed an abnormally wide gullet, liver and gallbladder, an enormous, ulcer-ridden stomach and that his body  was filled with pus. Throughout his life, he had remained surprisingly slim. His mouth was abnormally wide and his skin hung in loose folds, stretching to accommodate a dozen eggs or apples in his mouth at any one time and to allow his abdomen to distend like a massive balloon after eating meals that sometimes consisted of 30 pounds of raw bull lungs and liver in one sitting. He was described as smelling so foul that no-one could bear to stand within 20 paces of him and he displayed what we now know to be the symptoms of hyperthyroidism - extreme appetite, rapid weight loss, profuse sweating, heat intolerance, and very fine hair. A recent study suggests that Tarrare's excessive appetite may have been caused by damage to the amygdala region of his brain.

Tarrare claimed to Baron Percy shortly before his death that he had swallowed a golden fork and that was the cause of his acute illness whilst at Versailles. The fork, however, was never found.

Discover in Part Two how Wattle & Daub have interpreted this extraordinary story as a 'monstrous chamber opera for puppets'. The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak runs 30th January to 18th February and you can book tickets here.


Read more
18Nov. 2016.

Wilton's New Season is Now on Sale!

January - March 2017. 


From Lord of Thrones, the 10th anniversary of Improvathon bringing 50 hours of non-stop improvised comedy, to an electrifying new production of The Watermill Theatre’s Frankenstein, we are thrilled to introduce you to 2017 at Wilton's.

Download the brochure here: Season-Brochure (PDF)







January


Kicking off the 2017 season with a bang is Dame Nature – The Magnificent Bearded Lady (10 – 14 January). An evening of hilarious stories from the faded star who has been looking after her facial furniture for as long as she can remember. A poignant, off-kilter show for people who don’t like to judge a woman by her beard. 
 
The cream of the improv crop will descend on Wilton’s as Extempore Theatre & Something for the Weekend present The 2017 London Jam (16 - 19 January). Featuring a stellar line-up of home-grown spontaneous talent from 2016 Olivier Award winners, The Showstoppers, The Sufferettes and more. An uproarious night perfect for comedy fans and improv newbies alike.

Lord of Thrones (20 – 22 January) – the 10th annual 50 hour Improvathon, will take over over Wilton’s for an entire weekend of pure improvised comedy from some of the world’s funniest performers.

Closer: The Devil’s Violin & Burns Night Ceilidh (24 & 25 January), a musical journey taking audiences from the American South to Italy to Scotland to Argentina, finishing with a raucous and rollicking Burns Night Ceilidh. 

Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks (26 & 27 January) is back for 2017 as The Time Travelling Magicians make a triumphant return to Wilton’s with their mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, brain-burstingly brilliant feats of magic. 




February


Wilton’s is thrilled to be welcoming the extraordinary The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak by Wattle & Daub (30 January – 18 February) a phenomenal opera based on the monstrous true story of Tarrare the Freak, an 18th century French revolutionary whose only dream is to be human in a world that sees him as a monster. 

Tom Poster, the musical genius behind The Depraved Appetite of Tarrae the Freak, is also an internationally celebrated pianist and has put together a series of three contrasting concerts to run alongside Tarrare, each drawing on themes from the opera. Chamber Concerts: Tom Poster and Friends (2, 9 &16 February) brings together a number of the country’s celebrated classical musicians for three nights only.

Morgan & West return with their Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids and Childish Grown Ups! (16 & 17 February) – their fabulous, fun-filled, mind-frying magic extravaganza for kids and adults alike! 

Presented by DeNada Dance Theatre and choreographed by Carlos Pons Guerra, Ham and Passion (21 & 22 February) is an exhilarating and filmic spectacle that promises to subvert the senses and take you on a journey from the bloody Spanish Civil War to 1950’s Seville.  

In an extraordinary evening combining music and storytelling, OneTrackMinds (23 & 24 February) makes a welcome return to Wilton’s. A dynamic group of writers, artists, musicians and thinkers present a piece of music that has made a difference to their life.

The Sailortown Sea Shanty Festival (25 & 26 February) sails into town for the weekend, celebrating traditional maritime work songs as well as contemporary songs of the sea. Curated by The Trad Academy Sea Shanty Choir, this community-led festival is jam-packed full of music, art and history, featuring some of the finest international performers of maritime music. 

In Art Sung – Alma Mahler (28 February), Alma Mahler's story is explored through her songs, the works of her famous husband, her teacher and lover Zemlinksy and those of the great Germanic composers, Wagner, Schumann and Beethoven. 



March


Poet in the City return with Langston Hughes: Dreams Deferred (1 March). An exhilarating evening of poetry, music and dance celebrating this iconic Harlem poet, this is an exploration of the remarkable voice of Langston Hughes, a man whose powerful, urgent poetry inspired and empowered a generation of new writers. 

The maestros of swing, Step Out With Swing Patrol (2 March) are back with their usual taster class at 7pm, followed by fun and friendly social dancing until 10:30pm. Open to everyone, from complete beginners to old timers, this is guaranteed to be a great evening full of old-fashioned fun and frolics. 

Dark, dynamic and downright brilliant, No Angel Uncensored (3 & 4 March) is an evening of decadence and devilish delights as Charlie Bicknell, Louise Innes and Richard Casemore entwine anarchy, wit and comic ingenuity with aerial acrobatics and a jockey… Prepare to be unprepared! 

One of the greatest gothic tales of all time comes to life in an electrifying new production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (7 – 18 March). A transfer from the award winning, internationally renowned Watermill Theatre, Tristan Bernays’ vision tells the story of Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings a gruesome body to life and is horrified by what he has made. This take on a powerful and dark masterpiece explores the timeless relationship between parent and child, isolation, prejudice and revenge. 

Based on true stories from the 1984 miners’ strikes, Undermined (21 - 25 March) tells the epic story of the brave men and women who stood up and fought for what they believed in. Written and performed by Danny Mellor, this is a deeply powerful and human story, bringing together the personal and the political in a way that will have audiences laughing, crying and shaking with anger. 

Fresh from a critically acclaimed run in Edinburgh comes The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) (28 March – 1 April). In a better-late-than-never nod to the Bard’s 400th anniversary, the bad boys of abridgement present this ‘new’ play by the man himself, as discovered in a Leicester car park! 

Join performance poet Ivy Davies in the cocktail bar as she sets off on her magical journey through time and space with Play Ground (29 - 31 March), weaving spoken word and song together in this one woman show.

And one more...
It’s fun for all the family as Silver Electra (4 & 5 April) flies into Wilton’s. An exhilarating and fun packed family show telling the story of Amelia Earhart, her mysterious disappearance and an incredible globe-trotting adventure taking audiences from the Australian Outback to America and back again. Presented by English Touring Opera.

Read more
15Sep. 2016.

Word of the Day from Floyd Collins


SITZPROBE

It may sound like an embarrassingly intrusive medical procedure but, no, it's what's happening today in our Floyd Collins rehearsal studio and it's something very special!




Sitzprobe is, in fact, the first coming together of full band and cast, in this case for a full run-through of Floyd Colllins The Musical. Glorious sounds have been wafting down the corridor past our offices today, seriously whetting our appetite to see this one-of-a-kind musical show - think down-home gig with a powerful story. Meanwhile, here are a few behind the scenes rehearsal pics for you to enjoy and a wonderful trailer to tell you more about Floyd's world.







Floyd Collins The Musical runs 22nd September to 15th October and bluegrass band, The Sand Cave Crickets, will be playing in the Cocktail Bar before every performance and during the interval. Click here to buy tickets.

Read more
7Sep. 2016.

Christmas is coming!

It may still be hot and steamy out there but the nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to fall and our thoughts are turning to... PANTO!


After an industrious week of costume fitting, we had a day of hectic fun yesterday with our official pantomime photo shoot.



We're thanking the Panto Fairy for blessing us with the same ace team who kitted out last year's cast - Tony Priestly and Paula Patterson. Having worked together, on and off, for around thirty years, our dynamic duo have dressed the great and the good on stages the length and breadth of the country. It's not unusual for Tony to be working on two or more pantos at any given time and, this year, we're in excellent company because he's doing Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome and Cinderella at the Palladium, as well as our very own Mother Goose. Tony and Paula have done us proud again this year, we have the most wonderful cast and creative team we could have wished for and we're VERY EXCITED about it all, so here are a few of our lovely official photos plus some silly behind the scenes snaps for you to enjoy.


Amelia Rose Morgan as Jill and Ian Parkin as Squire Stingy


Roy Hudd as Mother Goose and Ian Jones as her son Willy


Gareth Davies as Vanity and Julia Sutton as Virtue


Priscilla the Goose as Herself


Paula weighs up a couple of things with Roy


You're 'avin' a larf ain't yer?


Virtue and Mother Goose swap beauty tips


Tony plumps up our Goose


Altogether now...

Mother Goose runs 2nd to 31st December. Hurry and buy your tickets here!

Official photography by Matt Crossick

Read more
31Aug. 2016.

Floyd Collins: Cast Announced



We're getting ready to take a
journey to Floyd Collins' breathtaking Sand Cave in this all-new production of Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s award-winning musical. Our exciting line up includes...



Floyd Collins
 will be played by Ashley Robinson
Ashley played Tyler in Maria Friedman’s Olivier Award-winning production of Merrily We Roll Along, both at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.  He created the role of Tybalt in The Last Goodbye (the Jeff Buckley/Romeo and Juliet musical), as well as the role of Jett Rink in the world premiere of Giant (Helen Hayes award nomination). His other theatre includes Wicked (original Chicago cast), Studs Terkel’s The Good War and the 40th Anniversary production of Hair.   Film and TV credits include Hate (with Marcia Gay Harden), Fallen Souls and The Accident.   

Nellie Collins 
will be played by Rebecca Trehearn
Rebecca was most recently seen as Julie La Verne in Daniel Evans’ critically acclaimed production of Show Boat in the West End.  Her other theatre credits include Aspects of Love at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse and City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse.  She has also appeared in We Will Rock YouDirty Dancing and Love Story (West End), the UK tour of Ghost and Alfie the Musical (Palace Theatre, Watford).   Rebecca’s television credits include Carla Hewson in Casualty (BBC) and Angharad in A470 (S4C).  Rebecca won The Wow Factor for S4C which led to the release of her self-titled solo CD.   

Lee Collins
 will be played by Jack Chissick 
Jack most recently appeared in the 2016 Olivier Award-winning production of Gypsy in the West End.  His previous theatre includes People at the National Theatre, She Loves Me at Chichester Theatre Festival, The Fairy Queen for Jonathan Kent in New York and Paris and Kiss Me Kate in the West End.   His television credits include Silent WitnessCanterbury Tales: The Pardoner's TaleFoyle’s WarJudge John Deed and Midsomer Murders.   Film credits include Les Misérables for Working Title/Tom Hooper, Ex Memoria and Somerstown for Shane Meadows.   

Miss Jane
 will be played by Sarah Ingram   
Sarah’s West End credits include Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Martin GuerreFlashdance, Imagine ThisMurderous Instincts and Napoleon.  Her other recent credits include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd  at Twickenham Theatre, the European premiere Road Show at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the UK premiere of See What I Wanna See at Jermyn Street Theatre, Taboo at Brixton Clubhouse and Annie  at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.   

The rest of the cast will be announced soon.  

Read the full press release here (pdf).
Read more
17Aug. 2016.

Britten in Brooklyn: Cast Announced



The countdown to Britten in Brooklyn has begun, rehearsals are in full swing and the chaise longue has arrived!

Joining the previously announced Sadie Frost will be Ruby Bentall (cousin Verity in Poldark) as writer Carson McCullers, David Burnett (Henry Foster in Brave New World) as the mysterious John Dunne, John Hollingworth (Design for Living at the Old Vic, Capt Henshawe in Poldark) as poet WH Auden and Ryan Sampson (Grumio in TV comedy Plebs, Charles ‘Boz’ Dickens in TV’s The Frankenstein Chronicles) as composer Britten. 

Directed by Oli Rose, Britten in Brooklyn will play for a strictly limited season of 21 performances from 31 August - 17 September.

Find out more and book tickets here: wiltons.org.uk/whatson
Read more
4Aug. 2016.

An Audience with Miss Hope Springs

The crackle of sequins, the rustle of chiffon and the heady aroma of eyelash adhesive - yes, we're cock-a-hoop to  welcome the legendary Miss Hope Springs onto our premises. Ahead of her glittering three-night reign over our historic auditorium next week, we were honoured to be granted a bijou chat-ette with this one-in-a-million glamour puss. 

What has been the high spot of your career to date?
I have just gotten back from an exhausting 132 date coast-to-coast tour of the USA with my husband Irving (and his close friend Carlos who travels with us and helps with my hair and makeup). We were in the winnebago going through downtown Hicksville, we pulled in to get some Mexican food, the waiter recognised me (from my 1969 cable TV special Latin ala Springs) and...I got a free taco!


And an experience to make you shudder at the memory?
When my friend the Swedish 'art house'' actress Alaena Traffik and I went to the, hugely fashionable at the time (it was the Summer of Love), naked disco in Oslo. We walked in, took all our clothes off. When the dry ice cleared we were in the wrong club.

Who has influenced you more than anyone?
My mother Rusty (Rusty Springs). She’s my rock. Well…actually more like a piece of pumice these days. Rusty started out as an exotic dancer in Nebraska in the 1940s. Tragically I lost her only last week….Well, Victoria Coach Station at rush hour is a nightmare. She was halfway to Newcastle before I realised.

You sing a wonderful song about making the most of your good points - what do you feel is your greatest asset?
I think it’s my tenacity. As an actress I’ve been turned down by every producer and director in Hollywood (and not for just acting roles). My recording career went nowhere when I was dropped by Capitola Records in late 1979 because my disco LP Blood, Sweat and Sequins sold only 12 copies. And yet here I am still trying to ignite the flame of success in your beautiful country. I always say, who knows what’s just around the corner? Actually I do...it’s a bus-stop and a Cafe Nero but that’s not what I mean.


Vintage Hope: her natural beauty shining through

Do you have any beauty or fashion tips for the ladies?
Well I’m just a natural gal…I towel dry my hair, pinch my cheeks and I’m done. Although I guess I am lucky to be blessed with extremely thick naturally blonde hair…it’s my Irish, Lithuanian, Inuit genes. And my eyelashes are famous for being super thick and luxurious... like Elizabeth Taylor’s, did you know she had three rows of lashes? I have 7. Liz was famous for her eyes supposedly being violet (she was a bosom pal of mine and trust me, in reality the eyes were actually just a weird puce colour, poor girl, she wore those gaudy Kaftan’s and big diamonds to distract people’s attention away from them).

And for the gentlemen?
Very tight white pants, and a white shirt open to the navel. Preferably with a very hairy chest and a medallion. Unlike a lot of people I love a man with back-hair…so don’t wax is my advice. Or alternatively the Liberace look... I’ve always been a sucker for understated masculine elegance.

If you were marooned on a desert island, who would you most like to have washed up on your shore?
It’s already happened, darling. And it was Tab Hunter! A beautiful man and a talented actor (well, a beautiful man anyway). We were in a movie called Strangers in Paradise. Sadly I ended up on the cutting room floor and they re-shot all my scenes with Lassie. Go figure. To be honest I fell for Tab in a big way. But, he just saw me as an object... Not a sex object…just an object.


If you're quick off the mark, you might still catch tickets for Hope's exclusive cabaret - Tuesday 9th to Thursday 11th August - where you can gather more of her pearls of wisdom. Don't say we don't spoil you.

Photographs of Hope by Zoe Hunn
Read more

Box Office 020 7702 2789

Copyright - Cookies Policy - Visit Us

Patron HRH The Prince of Wales · © Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London E1 8JB · VAT No. 583681407
Wilton’s Music Hall Trust Registered Charity No. 1003041 · Company Limited by Guarantee No. 2553922

  • HLF 2
Your cart  
Check Out