So today I decided it was about time I finally organised my programmes rather than just continuing to throw them into a haphazard heap under my bed while praying they don’t end up completely destroyed. Once I started, however, I thought it might be fun to flick through some of them and it turns out I’ve seen a lot of people I now adore in some old shows back when they would have meant nothing to me. I doubt anyone is all that interested in this, but I found it quite fascinating, so I thought I’d blog about it anyway. Of course, I have no guarantees that some of these people were even on the night that I went, but still…. I also have the problem of recognising people in old programmes but not knowing what I’ve seen them in more recently. But anyhoo, here goes nothing:
(This will mostly be an annotated list in no particular order as I put this together whilst going through random piles with no ordering whatsoever except that glossy brochures and programmes were separate due to shelf size issues)
So to begin, I was busy drooling over old pictures of Liam as Link Larkin in Hairspray and who did I find? David McMullan, the guy I recognised (well it looked a hell of a lot like him anyway and he had a very ‘musical theatre’ sort of manner!) sitting in my row at the Ladykillers last week! It’s just now occurred to me that the reason I recognised him was because I also saw him in Ragtime at the Landor (which was confirmed on finding that programme which also assisted me with working out that the guy I recognised at something – Jingle Balls, maybe? was Alexander Evans). I somehow missed the fact he was also in the ensemble of Love Never Dies though – this is what happens when Ramin is on the stage . I think I’ve already mentioned the fact that Aki Omoshayabi was in it Hairspray, but I thought I’d say it again anyway. Woot, hippies .
Speaking of hippies, Holly James was in Starlight Express when I saw it on tour at the New Wimbledon Theatre back in ‘06, with Oliver Thornton as Rusty (wow I wish I remembered that better) and another familiar face; Tim Driesen (from Never Forget).
Speaking of Never Forget, with the new cast though also in Wimbledon… Scott Garnham played Jose and I’ve even got his autograph to prove he was on that night. What I wouldn’t give to see that again now!
Les Mis, 2004, my first two trips and there was another hippie in the cast – Gemma Baird. Apparently Ollie Thornton was also playing Enjolras back then! Wish I remembered that even more than Starlight.
Mark Evans was Brad in Rocky Horror on the last tour but I didn’t know who he was back then . It wasn’t even all that long ago, but he was just this gorgeous man to drool over then. I didn’t ‘discover him’, so to speak, until Bobby Cronin’s gig when he completely blew me away.
Stuart Matthew Price was a vocalist at Strictly Gershwin when it first opened.
Alastair Brookshaw (who I saw as Leo Frank in Parade at the Southwark Playhouse) was a vocalist the first time I saw Shoes at Sadler’s Wells. Jared Hageman was also one of the dancers. I’ve seen him in Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Grey, but far more importantly, he was one of Take That’s dancers on the Progress Tour. I think I spotted him on X-Factor too.
Chris Passey as Benjamin in the Joseph tour 2007 at the Birmingham Hippodrome!
I knew this already, but Zoe Birkett, who I loved on Pop Idol 2002 and who should have been playing Dionne on the UK tour of Hair (she’s still playing the role in Munich) was in Respect La Diva and I even got her autograph, despite not realising who she was until the Hair tour was announced!
Burn the Floor starring Brian Fortuna and Ali Bastian apparently also featured Artem Chigvintsev and Robin Windsor, before either joined Strictly. Obviously I didn’t have a clue who they were at the time, but somehow managed to get autographs off both of them anyway, even though I only got signatures from six out of twenty+ dancers (and two of those were the ‘stars’). Shame I didn’t bother with pictures (at least I don’t think I did, I should probably check that)!
Many years ago, well, six, but it feels like longer, I saw a play called As You Desire Me which for some reason really stood out for me and I still remember the story, or at least the gist of it, to this day. Turns out it starred Kristin Scott Thomas and Bob Hoskins. Unfortunately, this pre-dated my regular stage door activity, but it’s still kinda funky. Especially since I never could remember the name of that play and it’s rather useful to have rediscovered the programme.
Even more years ago than that, back in 1994, I went to see Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, for the very first time and I guess my love of musical theatre was probably born around then. I still remember that show so clearly, it’s weird, especially since I’ve seen it a fair few times since then, yet it’s that first performance that’s always stayed with me. Darren Day starred and the theatre trip was the culmination of months of constantly singing the songs. For whatever reason, my parents wouldn’t take me to see it, but then my Grandma treated me when I went to visit her and apparently I beamed throughout the whole show!
And then in 1998, also in Manchester, I saw Oliver starring Gary Wilmot as Fagin. Turns out Michael Cotton was in the cast too. Wonder what I’d have thought back then if I’d known all these years later I’d see him dancing around in the buff in Naked Boys Singing . I suspect I’d have been shocked and appalled given I was only about 13 and I was oh so sweet and innocent back then!
Back into the noughties and I went to see Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls in 2005. All I really remember was being stuck right up at the back and not getting to see Ewan at the stage door afterwards, but turns out the show also featured a rather young looking Summer Strallen.
One of my bigger ‘ wow, really?!’ moments came when I found the programme for The Pirates of Penzance at the Savoy in 2004. I remember the show and remember being rather excited about Anthony Head playing the Pirate King. What I obviously wouldn’t have been excited about at the time but would so love to see now, was Hadley Fraser as Fredric!
Adam Pearce (who I know from Love Never Dies) was one of the brothers in Joseph when Lee Mead was starring. Stephen John Davis (who I saw as Emile in South Pacific) was Reuben too.
I’ve no idea when I saw Beauty and the Beast, but given that it was on at the Dominion, it must have been a fair few years ago since We Will Rock You has been on there for the past decade. According to the programme it premiered in 1997, so I’d guess at the date being sometime around then. Anyhoo, a quick flick through the programme produced the info that Barry James (Firmin in Phantom) played Cogsworth and Earl Carpenter was in the ensemble!
One particular programme I’ve been looking for for a while, is the Far Pavilions. I don’t think it was much of a success, but I remember enjoying it. Obviously I don’t remember Hadley Fraser in this either, but I’ve known for a while that he was in it so it was kinda nice to finally find the programme and see the picture with my own eyes.
Spamalot starring Tim Curry was an interesting find. Mark Evans was a swing, so there’s a good chance I didn’t see him and Craige Els (Never Forget) was a walking understudy, so I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have seen him either, but Hannah Waddingham was the Lady of the Lake and I’m pretty sure I saw her at least!
I’m loving these old programmes too, the head shots are so dated – all those massive perms on the women and boyband curtains on the men! Anyhoo, another trip to the Manchester Opera House some time around 1996 and Alexis Owen-Hobbs was playing Cha-Cha. (Shane Richie was starring as Danny, but he was off when I went to see it. I have no clue how I still remember that fact though!).
Oliver Thornton was also in Chicago back when I saw it. Who knew I’d seen him in so much!
The weirdest by far is actually a concert programme, from Party in the Park 2000. It’s in rather horrific condition as I can still remember the way it poured down for most of the day (which resulted in my programme getting completely sodden through and all the pages getting stuck together. I remember the concert and even the nightmare of getting tickets, what I’d forgotten were the acts. I remember Ronan Keating and I remember being very disappointed when Stephen Gateley didn’t perform despite being on the bill. I remember that the only time I sat down all day was during Moloko because I didn’t much like them and I remember Lionel Richie (though he’s not actually on the programme, so I’m wondering if I imagined that or if he replaced someone else (like Gary Barlow replaced him at the BBC gig in Hyde Park that I missed last summer). I also have a vague recollection of Five performing with Queen – mostly cos I liked Five . The thing is, I saw some seriously cool acts that day. Perhaps some of them weren’t as famous then as they are now, but even so. Amongst others, assuming the programme is correct, I saw: Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, All Saints, Christina Aguilera (I think I actually remember her singing Genie in A Bottle), Elton John with the Backstreet Boys (man I wish I remembered that!), Kylie, Destiny’s Child (when there were still four of them!), Craig David, Steps, Westlife and Billie Piper!
I guess the most melancholy (at least based on programme findings plus the fact I was looking through the glossy brochure too and sulking about not getting to see it again) was from Hair in the West End. For some stupid reason I only bought the one, back when I first saw it and Will Swenson was still playing Berger. I did get Steel’s autograph and a fair chunk of the named cast, but I’m missing so many tribe members, it’s really rather sad. It was also before Liam joined the show, so he’s not in it either. I’m kicking myself now for not buying a second one later in the run and I did actually try to get my hands on one through various sources after the show closed and I realised how stupid I’d been, but nothing came of it. Such a shame . Still, I suppose I had an incredible summer (of love) with my beloved hippies and I’ll always have those fabulous memories plus the ones from Boston even if I don’t get another chance to see Hair again anytime soon. (I’ve also listened to the album the whole way through today, which didn’t help! – Let the sun shine in)
And finally on a slightly chirpier note, I apparently saw Michael Barrymore as Wishee Washee in Aladdin at the Manchester Opera House all the way back in 1992 . I think that’s the oldest one I found, except perhaps Rainbow which I saw live on stage when I was very very small, but I don’t know what year it was.
Anyhoo, in case you were wondering what that many programmes look like (or if you were wondering why it took me FIVE hours to go through them all), this is the whole lot of them:
On average I’d guestimate that there are about 20 per stack, maybe a few more. Of course there are shows I didn’t get programmes for, either because it was many years ago when £3 was just too much to spend or because they simply weren’t available. There are also shows I have several versions of; Phantom, Les Mis, etc. etc.. It’s a good collection though and I’m pretty proud of it. At least next time I lament the fact that life always seems to pass by far too quickly, I can look at this lot and think ‘Well at least I’m not wasting it’.
Anyways, there were countless other names that appeared time and time again, but the above were the ones that really stood out and made me go ‘oooh, cool’. I gotta say, it’s just another reason I love theatre, following careers from the early days. I think that’s even part of the reason I’m so fond of Liam, having seen (possibly) every show he’s been in since he started out. I still see big things in his future and I love watching that ascension from nobody to universally acknowledged star. One day I’ll be watching him play some massive part *cough*Phantom*cough* and I’ll be able to look back and say ‘look how far he’s come’ and know I’ve been there since the beginning.
Peace, loVe loVe and happiness,
PS. And now I get to do some serious tagging . Overkill, thy name is random posts about 2 decades of theatre trips and deciding to tag every single person/show/theatre mentioned!
PPS. I have a multitude of almost finished reviews, so fingers crossed I’ll get at least some of them posted in the next few weeks.