Yesterday I saw a wonderfully innovative production of Shakespeare's (yes it would appear to be a rash of Shakespeare posts) Midsummer Night's Dream. For some reason it brought to mind a production by the Old Vic back in the 1950s which toured North American. It was a Victorian Valentine designed by Oliver Messel with flying fairies and ballets to Mendelssohn's romantic score. Titania and Oberon were played by ballet dancers Moira Shearer and Robert Helpmann and Bottom was the great Music Hall and comedy performer Stanley Holloway. Holloway had played the part in a mammoth production in Hollywood in the '30s but was replaced by James Cagney (???) when it was committed to film.
Following the strange twists and turns of what passes for my mind in this household I began to think about the wonderful Holloway monologues that brought him success in the Halls long before his Alfred P. Dootlittle on stage and screen. I grew up listening to them and had several LPs of his stuff.
One of his most famous was the story of Little Albert Ramsbottom and the lion but Albert showed up in quite a few other stories including this one:
And he sangs this little ditty was sung long before the word "queer" took on an entirely new meaning.
I only saw Holloway live twice when he appeared at the Shaw Festival at Niagara on the Lake back in the 1960s. First off he appeared as the father in Shaw's Candida then when Frances Hyland broke her leg and couldn't go on (the Shaw had no money in those days for understudies) he and Tony Van Bridge put together a programme of monologues and songs that would have had even old GBS chuckling.
02 marzo - San Simplicio - Papa