Monthly Archives: August 2016

KENNY BAKER 1934-2016

Kenny B

here at IBY we were saddened to hear the news that Kenny Baker has died at the age of 82.

Kenny achieved worldwide fame as the droid R2D2 in the Star Wars Films of George Lucas, appearing in six of the series, beginning in 1971. Kenny’s film career included several films for The Henson Organisation, and included playing Fidgit in Terry Gillam’s “Time Bandits” in 1981.

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I was fortunate enough to be working at the studios during shooting, and would meet the cast, including Kenny in the canteen there for chaotic lunch breaks! Kenny appeared in Mona Lisa, The Elephant Man, Amadeus, Labyrinth and Willow in a career that spanned over sixty years, and saw him presented to the Queen (he was hugely proud of this) and appearing opposite Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at The Royal Opera House!

Kenny was born in Solihul, and at the age of 16 and 3’8″ tall, he signed up to Burton Lester’s Midgets, touring in his shows, and then went on to join Billy Smart’s circus as Clown and “shadow” Ringmaster. A skilled skater he joined the Ice shows and pantomimes for almost a decade, from 1961, working with several artistes he remained life long friends with. One was Rusty Goffe, who like Kenny appeared in Major Motion Pictures including Star Wars and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Here is what Rusty had to say about Kenny’s passing :

Having known the Great Kenny Baker for over 50 years I am very saddened to hear of his death. Kenny was a super Pro. A great friend. Having worked with the dear man in our early years in Tom Arnold’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Ice though to when he split from his cabaret partner, the late great Jackie Purvis for two years. Those two years were most memorable for me. From working the Night Clubs both in Europe and the U.K. Being  “screamed” at by girls when we supported the top pop groups  of the time. To when we worked the American Air Bases in Germany when we were told there had been a change and the options were go to Tripoli (pre Gadaffi) or Vietnam……where we would have to be parachuted in!!!! Kenny opted for Tripoli!! (the “night club incident” will remain our secret ) I will miss the great man especially when we met up at conventions. (Thank you Jason Joiner for giving Ken the opportunity to meet his fans, which he loved! ) 

May he rest in peace. Xx Rusty Goffe.

As Rusty mentions, Kenny formed a cabaret act “The Mini Tones” along with Jack Purvis (Jack was later to join Kenny in that first “Star Wars” voyage. He and Jack toured the UK, Europe, and North Africa.

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Kenny was a fan of pantomime. In an interview for the Birmingham Hippodrome Panto “Snow White” he appeared in he said “I do enjoy doing pantomime at Christmas. If I didn’t do it, I’d feel as though I was missing something” and his panto appearances included Birmingham, Southport on several occasions, as well as Swansea Grand and Blackpool. He worked amongst others for Paul Elliott, Duggie Chapman and UK Productions.

Those pantomimes are now memories, but Kenny’s memory and acheivements will continue to be celebrated by Star Wars fans and Cinema fans the world over.

His obituary can be found in most nespapers including the Telegraph:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/aug/13/kenny-baker-r2-d2-dies-star-

 

SPOTLIGHT ON ROY ALVIS

Roy Alvis in 1990. Theatre Royal Hanley023

ROY ALVIS 1930-2016

Tributes to Roy can be found at the end of this article.

With a career spanning over fifty years, performances in over twenty seven pantomimes as “Sister” or “Dame”, and with summer seasons, cabaret appearances and the numerous shows he directed – we salute a warm, generous and lovely man, Roy Alvis.

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Here is Roy talking about his start in “the business” recently: Follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/roy.alvis.5/videos/10209219667783181/

In the 1960s Publand and Clubland provided popular nights out across the UK. In London, especially,  the “Drag Scene” was beginning, although at first it was not  totally “respectable”.  This was the era of “Polari”, spoken by many in the drag-world as a secure private form of communication .  It was the era when some performers would be carrying a “Shush” bag. Terri Gardener told me that it would have been impossible for a man to purchase lipstick or powder in a shop, so it was often “Shusshed” into the Shush bag out of sight of the shop assistant at Woolies.

Roy Alvis was once arrested for performing in drag! The drag performances were often passed off as “Olde Tyme Music Hall” shows to placate the Lord Chamberlain. But eventually, they got a toehold of respectability and gradually became hugely popular.

With this new found “respectability”, clubs, pubs and theatres saw the rise of drag artistes thanks to the likes of Ted Gatty and Danny Caroll.  Danny later became Danny La Rue, and took a residency first at Churchill’s Club in Bond Street, then six years at “Winston’s” in Clifford Street, before opening his own club in 1964 – “Danny La Rue’s” in Hanover Square, London’s West End. .

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Into this scene came Roy Alvis. In the late 1950s,  drag-shows were mostly of the “Forces Showboat/Soldiers in Skirts” type, and combined with variety shows.  They were often fronted by acts such as Forde & Sheen, Bartlett and Ross, Eric Lloyd, Jimmy Slater, Billy Wells and Barri Chatt and Terri Gardner.

Drag performers often found it hard to find work. Roy was at one point a meat porter at Smithfield market before trading in his apron for something much more glamorous!

The “Drag Boom” of the 1960s, and the influence of Bartlett and Ross and Gardener and Chatt led Roy to create ALVIS & O’DELL with Danny O’Dell.

Roy and Danny were credited with an innovative move. Whilst popular in the pubs and clubs with their comedy routines

Two great lads, brought tears of laughter to the eyes with their brash but clever comedy female impertinences” (Stage 1967)

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Alvis & O’Dell are said to be among the first “drag Acts” to mime. It seems incredible today, with acts “lip synching for their lives” to think that they created a storm by miming to Susan Maughan’s hit “I Want to be Bobby’s Girl” in the early Sixties, making them the most sought-after drag-act in publand!

For More on Roy Alvis in Clubland see below following  the pantomimes.

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ROY ALVIS PANTOMIMES

Between 1969 and 2000 Roy appeared in over twenty seven pantomimes, both as Ugly Sister and as Dame. He played Dame Durden, Dame Trott, Widow Twankey and Mother Goose in a career that saw him playing opposite Sir Norman Wisdom, Dana, Clodagh Rogers, The Nolans, Vince Hill, Lynda Barron, Floella Benjamin (now Baroness Beckenham),  Aussie stars Fiona Spence and Jessica Muschamp and Stan Stennett.

During his “Cinderella” years as Ugly Sister,  Roy was originally billed as Alvis & O’Dell , his partner being Danny O’Dell;  and then, confusingly, billed as  Alvis & Dell with Michael Dell as his partner.  From the mid-1980s he appeared as a solo Dame..

THE PANTOMIMES

1969    Civic Theatre Darlington – Cinderella .

Renee Barr (Cinderella), David MacBeth (Prince Charming), Bobby Barras (Buttons) , Alvis & O’Dell (Ugly Sisters), Vivien Ward (Fairy Godmother)

1970    Doncaster + Hanley, Theatre Royal

Cinderella – Dana (Cinderella), Johnny Hackett (Buttons), Alvis & O’Dell (Sisters), Margaret Moore (Prince Charming), Vanessa Kind (Dandini), June Lewis (Fairy  Godmother) This panto played two venues.

 1971    Southend Cliffs Pavilion

Cinderella – Rhoma Rosay (Cinderella), Lynn Valentine (Prince Charming), Alan Randall (Buttons),  Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell (Sisters ,  Louise Schofield (Dandini), David Vickers (Baron),  Eddie Davies, Charlie Gray.

1973    Doncaster Gaumont

Cinderella- Dana, Brian Marshall, Alvis & O’Dell,  Anne Langford, Jane Terry

1974    Scarborough, Floral Hall

Cinderella:  Dale Warren (Buttons), Gloria Kaye (Cinderella), Ron Evans (Baron Hardup) , Christine Lion (Prince), Karen Sewell (Dandini),  Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell as Uglies.  (“They’ve been working in drag together for 12 years, and as Ugly Sisters for 5 years.  They very soon make contact with the youngsters and sometimes make turmoil!”)The Stage.

One of the great comedy drag teams in recent years “Alvis & O’Dell” broke up in April of this year, since which time Danny O’Dell has featured as a solo drag entertainer and singer.  Roy Alvis now appears with a new partner called Dell – “Alvis & Dell” should not be confused with the former partnership. The Stage.

Courtesty of Theatre Royal Hanley. Andrew Ankers.022.PNG

1975    Camberley

Sleeping Beauty : Leslie Randall (King), Roy Alvis (Queen), Christine            Webber (Beauty), Roger Green (Prince), Bridie Devon (Witch)

1976    Camberley Civic Hall

            Mother Goose:  Ken Joy, Roy Alvis (Dame Sybil), Johnny Cooper, Alita       Petrofff, Melina, Beryl Korman, Dee Stevens, Max Arthur. Dazzle         Productions.

1977    Swindon, Wyvern Theatre

Cinderella: Clifford Henry (Buttons), Jane Argyle (Cinderella). Alvis & Dell (Sisters), Andy Wells, John Larsen, Jane Terry, Maggie Beckit

Courtesy of Hanley Theatre Royal. Andrew Ankers.024

1978    Stevenage : Gordon Craig Theatre

Mother Goose:  Ann Hamilton (Principal Boy), George A. Lacy (Henchman), Roy Alvis (Dame), Valerie Braithwaite (Goose), Maggie Beckit (Fairy Snow), John Larsen (Squire), Rodney Diak (Villain), Libby Richards (Principal Girl), Georgina Cole (choreographer)

1979    St Alban’s City Hall

 Cinderella: Larry Larkin, Syd Wright, Alvis & Dell

1980    Hornsey

Cinderella: Roy Alvis & Michael Dell (Sisters), Syd Wright (Baron), Chris Lloyd (Buttons), Diane Sillence (Cinderella), Carol Doree (Prince Charming), Rowan Suart (Dandini).

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1981    Hereford, Nell Gwynne Theatre

Cinderella:  Jack Wild (Buttons), Bruce Trent (Baron), Peter Vaughan-Clarke (Prince Charming), Lyn Andrews (Cinderella), Alvis & Dell as The Ugly Sisters. Written & directed by Aubrey Philips. (Philip Bernard Productions)

 1984    Hanley Theatre Royal

Cinderella with Clodagh Rodgers, (Cinderella)  Lewis Collins, Paul Squire, Eve Ferret (Fairy Godmother) The Cox & Miles Twins with Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell as The Ugly Sisters. * From The Stage. Possibly a misprint?

RoyAlvisKMT3Kenneth More Theatre Ilford Aladdin 

1985    Camberley

            Puss in Boots with  Floella Benjamin, Howell Evans, Patricia                           Kane,(Blodwyn)  Roy Alvis as Queen Gertrude,  Jane Stevens (Catisha), Tobina Mahone-Brown, Paul Burton (Principal Boy).Directed by Howell   Evans for Charles Haley Productions.

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With Paul Burton & Floella Benjamin

1986    Kirkcaldy Adam Smith

Cinderella:  Roy Alvis & David Deller (Sisters), Angus Lennie (Buttons), Cedric Monarch (Baron).

1987    Kirkcaldy Adam Smith

Jack & the Beanstalk Phil Clarke Jnr, Roy Alvis, Syd Wright, Lesley Moore, Audrey Blake, David Jon Fergus, Christopher Howard,  Sharon McWilliams, Rachel Moran, Sonja Messer, Star Puppets

1988    Dartford Orchard Theatre

            Cinderella:  Norman Wisdom (Buttons), Linda Lusardi (Cinderella), Paul      Reeves, Tony Fayne (Baron Hardup), Roy Alvis & David Dell (Ugly Sisters)

With Andrew Ryan:  Kenneth More TheatreRoyAlvisKMT2

1989    Ilford  Kenneth More Theatre

            Aladdin with    Roy Alvis  (Widow Twankey) Andrew Ryan,(Wishee Washee)            Michael Heath  (Abanazar),  Loraine Porter (Aladdin),  Alison Pollard          (Princess), Simon Davies (Genie),  Robert Quarry (Emperor), Jacqui Johns    (Slave of Ring), Luke Hope, Craig Maguire, Nadja Brown, Heather Worrall

1990    Hanley Theatre Royal

Snow White :  Jessica Muschamp (Snow White),  Fiona Spence (Wicked Queen), Mark Thrippleton (Prince Edgar), Paul Squire (Muddles), Paul Critchlow (Mydarkon), Roy Alvis (Dame Sarah Spoilt)  (Directed by Simon Barry) New Pantomime Productions.

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1991    Horsham Arts Centre

Dick Whittington: Lynda Barron (Fairy BowBells), Michael Robbins (King Rat), Mark Thrippleton (Dick), Johnny Scott (Idle Jack), Jack Seaton (Fitzwarren/Sultan), Roy Alvis (Sarah the Cook), Scarlett O’Neal (Alice), Alistair Hudson, Jon Scragg, Todd Talbot, Barbara Harris (Directed by Jack Seaton)

1992    Southsea Kings Theatre

Jack & the Beanstalk:  Les Hill (Jack), Bernadette Nolan (Jill), Hope & Keen, Bill Buckley (King Billy), Laine Kennedy (Vegetable Fairy), Roy Alvis (Dame Durden), Debra Karen (Witch), John Morosini-Whelan (Giant).   (Directed by Simon Barry) New Pantomime Productions.

1993    Preston

Jack & the Beanstalk:  Ashley Peake, Linda Nolan, Barnaby, Hilary Minster, Roy Alvis, Debra Karen (Directed by Paul Squire) New Pantomime Productions.

1994    Horsham Arts Centre

Jack & the Beanstalk:  Vince Hill (King), Matthew Davies (Master Trott), John Clegg, Sophie Louise Dann (Jack Trott), Roy Alvis (Dame Trott),  Daryl Back (Good Fairy), Helen Bunyan (Princess Isabel) (Directed by Richard Frost)

1995    Pontypridd Muni Arts Centre

Billy & Bonzo Meet Mother Goose:  Stan Stennett, Johnny Tudor, Roy Alvis, (Mother Goose)  Glyn Dawson, Philip Howe, Ceri Stennett

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1996    Porthcawl Grand Pavilion

Snow White:  The Nolans, Tommy O’Brien, Roy Alvis, Adrian Jeckells, Helen Pocock, Brian Tracey  (directed by Adrian Jeckels) PHA

1997    Camberley Arts Link

Aladdin – Simon Bright (Wishee), Mark Monero (Genie), Emma James (Aladdin), Robert Marlowe (Abanazar), Roy Alvis (Widow Twankey),  Anthony Cable (Emperor), Richard Moody (Ping), Andy Collins (Pong), Natalie Searles (Princess)  (Written, directed and choreographed by Robert Marlowe) PHA

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1998 Playhouse Weston Super Mare

Aladdin with Stefan Dennis (Abanazar) Gladiator Rocket, and Roy Alvis (Widow Twankey)with Brian Tracey and Helen Pocock/Jeckells. Directed and Choreographed by Robert Marlowe.

Pictures Courtesy Paul Holman. PHA

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1999    Porthcawl Grand Pavilion

Jack & the Beanstalk:  Ian Smith, Margo Selby, Roy Alvis, Mike Newman, John McManus, Sean Cook, Jo Castleton, Zach Vanderfelt  (Directed by Jonathan Linsley & Frances Wright)

Porthcawl Pantomime. Courtesy of Paul Holman PHA.Porthcawl

Roy gave his final performance as Dame  at The Grand Pavilion Porthcawl in January 2000 before retiring from Pantomime.

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ROY ALVIS AND CLUBLAND

During the early 1960s Roy appeared in clubs and pubs around London. Often the theme would be an Old Time Music Hall, with Alvis and O’Dell appearing as a comedy double. They appeared for “Mr” Chris Shaw, along with Peter King in his “Music Hall Memories” show several times.

In 1961 Roy and Michael Dell were amongst the first to introduce drag shows at the Vauxhall Tavern in London. This became the premier place of lunchtime and evening drag shows launching careers of many, including in later years,  Paul O’Grady as Lily Savage.

From The Stage 1976:

Alvis & Dell, who are currently leading the All Male Revue at the Union Tavern, Camberwell, on Tuesday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes, are two of the longest running troupers on the drag scene. Back in 1961 Roy and Michael introduced drag to South London pubs when they first presented their Pub Drag Show at the Vauxhall Tavern under the tenancy of Flossy and Jimmy Hayes. When the Hayes moved to the Union Tavern, Camberwell, in 1964, Roy teamed up with Danny O’Dell and started drag from there and at many other pubs and clubs, being known and well liked as Alvis & O’Dell.

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The Pub and club circuit was booming:  the “scene” included artistes like Jean Fredericks, Tommy Osborne, Laurie Lee, Lee Stevens, Alan Haynes (Alan was Danny La Rue’s “Ugly Sister” partner, and later solo Dame. He presented shows in clubs, and opened “The Pink Elephant” in Great Newport Street, appearing there alongside Tommy “Dolly” Osborne.)

In later years Vincent Hayes presented both Tommy and Phil Starr in pantomimes at his Brick Lane Music Hall, and it was a great joy to watch them each year. Vincent had run the “Lord Hood” and had presented many of the drag acts of the day.

Alan Haynes also opened the “Have a Jar” club in Wardour Street and acts like Alvis and O’Dell, Bobby Kimber the ventriloquist and “Pussy & Bow” appeared there.

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In the clubs, pubs and hotels were variety shows that featured Drag. Rex Jameson’s “Mrs Shufflewick” character could be heard on radio, and seen (in a much bluer vein!) in the clubs. To say Rex was “fond of a drop” was no exaggeration! His character was an inebriated seen-better-days lady!

James Horne, Pantomime Dame,  recalls that Rex played The Black Cap in Camden Town as often as three spots a day in his later years. With no time to be bothered changing, “Shuff” would go shopping in Camden Market in full “drag”, and it was while shopping that he collapsed, and an ambulance took him to The Royal Free ladies ward. It was a short while before the nursing staff discovered the error!

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Terri Gardnerer & Barri Chatt

Terri Gardener and his partner Barri Chatt had been performing since the late 1930s and mid 1940s.  Barri was credited with being the muse and inspiration for Peter Nichols’s character Captain Terri Dennis in his play “Privates On Parade”. Barri toured in CSE post-war in Malaya with Peter Nichols and Kenneth Williams.

Terri Gardener told me tales of he and Barri performing in up to three London clubs in a night. They had no time to change out of costume, and hailing a black cab in full drag in the early ‘60s was not a wise idea. He and Barri were shown a secret network of passages that ran from basements, hotel kitchens and pub cellars, and could negotiate their way through these to reach the next venue, trailing furs and a waft of Soir de Paris!

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Barri Chatt

The drag-scene included Marc Fleming, Terry Bartlett, Lee Sutton,  Chubby Oates, Chris Sheen,  Phil Star and Perri St Clair.  Perri later teamed up with pianist George Logan to become the legendary “Hinge & Bracket”.

Roy and Danny O’Dell reigned supreme with their innovative mime spots, until every other drag artiste got themselves a tape recorder and joined forces. Roy often was involved in “production” shows and revues, as well as “adult” panto in the clubs. The pubs they appeared at regularly during the “Drag Boom” years included the Vauxhall Tavern, the Black Cap, the Union Tavern and the City Arms. Drag balls were popular – despite the venues having to display notices forbidding male patrons wearing female attire! They were held at Kent House, Hammersmith, The Lyceum Ballroom (now home of “The Lion King”, Hammersmith Town Hall and the Portchester Hall.

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James Horne recalls seeing a drag revue at Islington Town Hall in the mid 1960s. It featured several elderly drag queens  who were all together in a harem scene, reclining regally on giant cushions. The illusion was spoiled by the end of scene when they couldn’t get up, and had to be hauled upright to exit!

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Francis Golightly’s Cascade Revue: Alvis & O’Dell

Here is a small glimpse of Roy’s Publand Career during the 1960s & 70s between panto appearances, taken from their notices in “Stage”.

1965

Roy and Danny were working the pubs and advertising themselves as “Alvis & O’Dell- who go Pops to Poppets with mime and comedy”. They were based in Ealing, London.

1966

They worked in Germany at some point this year, and advertised themselves as “The only female impersonators in the world to appear before U.S. Troops in Germany

1967

January: “Sinderella” a drag pantomime at the Union Tavern, Camberwell. In

February they appear at New Lansdowne Working Men’s Club

The Cascade Review. Roy is on the right.cascaderoy2

1968

January: The Swan Lake, Stratford East

Having a Wonderful Time” produced by Phil Starr and Terri Dennis, with “Roy Alvis and Danny O’Dell, favourites not only in this country but on the Continent”, plus Bobby Travers, George Vindas.

March: The Swan Lake, Stratford

“Welcome Aboard” with Phil Starr, Terri Dennis, Roy Alvis, Bobby Travers, George Vindas & the Cygnets

April – New Bagatelle Club, Soho

Go West, Young Man” –  “To complete a production that will surely charm far more people than it will offend, female impersonators Roy Alvis and Danny O’Dell make four brief appearances with apt and inventive mime emphasising the honest burlesque aspect.”

October – Hatcham Liberal Club

“We’re No Ladies” with Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell, assisted by Perri St. Clair, (Patrick Fyffe- later Dame Hilda Brackett) Peter Jones, Mark Fleming, Yargo Court, Dominic Adams (compère).

1969

January – The Black Cap

With Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell, Laurie Lee, Frank Rae

April – Crown Hotel, Cricklewood: Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell

October –1969  at a  London Working Men’s Club

Bill-toppers of this show were those female impersonators who rightly rank among the foremost in this line in southern clubs, Roy Alvis and Danny O’Dell.  Their great strength lies in their ability to be extremely versatile in their visual offering without having to resort to that unacceptable depth in comedy – failing of so many others.  Brilliant and uproarious again on this night, the two erstwhile Kane car-pushers had everyone raising the roof while assuring themselves that “Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die”.  Roy and Danny are panto-bound this winter.

Dec 69-Jan 70

Panto:  Civic Theatre, Darlington

1970

January – Falcon Hotel, Falconwood

With Charlie Smithers, the Hope Sisters

Dec 70 – Jan 71

Panto: Doncaster

 

1971

Dec 27 –Southend Panto.

1972

Alvis & O’Dell working the pub drag circuit, regularly at the Union Tavern

Summer in the Dovercourt Caravan Park

1973

In April touring the Alvis & O’Dell show through holiday camps

May-June season at St Osyth Clear Bay Park – with Stan Stennett, Roger Squires and John Emms

July – season at Highfields Holiday Park Clacton

October: Thameside Theatre, Gray’s in Francis Golightly’s revue “Swingin’ ‘73”

December: Elephant & Castle Vauxhall

Dec 26 – Jan 5

Panto : Doncaster, Gaumont

1974

March 7th  – From “The Stage” – Raising Kane by Tommy Kane

Eric Pieri it was who informed me of the bad news – the breaking up of the most successful and popular drag double-act in the game for several years, Roy Alvis & Danny O’Dell.  And so, in anticipation of this being the end of an era, I would say on behalf of the thousands to have been as enchanted as I by their hilarious and spectacular performances during that time – Thank You, Lads!

In the meantime the good news is that Roy has taken on a new glamour partner in George West; a slim and beautiful? fella who knows how to sway to the music and set everything up in order that Roy may knock it all down again with his own delightful little classics.  And at The Surdoc Club on the election night drag the pair, introduced by Eric, were such a riot that the dockers were unstinting with their applause.

 

March 7th: Danny O’Dell places an ad in The Stage announcing the partnership has ended, and he is now available for solo work.

 

March 14th:  An ad in The Stage says to ignore the previous week’s announcement, and that Alvis and O’Dell would remain a partnership and would fulfil all their contracts for the rest of the year, including the 1974/5 pantomime at Scarborough.

Dec 74 – Jan 18, 1975

Panto: Scarborough Floral Hall

1975

April, 1975 – It seems the partnership finally ended – a year after it had been announced.

 Dec 4, 1975 (Stage)

One of the great comedy drag teams in recent years “Alvis & O’Dell” broke up in April of this year, since which time Danny O’Dell has featured as a solo drag entertainer and singer. Roy Alvis now appears with a new partner called Dell – “Alvis & Dell” should not be confused with the former partnership “

 In 1975 Roy and Michael re-grouped as Alvis & Dell and rapidly regained their former popularity.

1976

August – Union Tavern

“What a Camp” – with Alvis & Dell, Pip Watson, John Traves, John Bailey, Graham Sneddon, Andrew Kay, Robert Mettam, Billy Lean.  (Directed by Richard Markham & Roy Alvis)

RoyAlvisKMT3With Simon Davies at The Kenneth More Theatre

In the summer of 1976 Roy formed a company of ten artists to back Michael and himself, in a new form of pub entertainment, the All-Male Revue with some members as girls and others as boys.  The Revue started at the Union Tavern on Tuesday July 6, 1976 and ran continuously on Tuesday evenings, and even reached its third edition.  The show became so popular that the company also performed another version at the Union Tavern at Sunday lunchtimes.

The company led by Alvis & Dell consists of six young dancers, mimes and drag artists: Bob Mettam, Graham Sneddon, Jon Traves, Billy Lean, Jon Rowell, Joseph Cunha.  Dance |Director: Alan Ormandy; Company Director: John Axon;  Stage Manager: Bryan Williams. 

This Christmas Roy Alvis will be appearing as Mother Goose at Camberley, and Michael Dell will be playing “Cinderella” at the Union Tavern.

The Union Tavern “Cinderella” will be produced and directed by Roy Alvis.

As it turned out, Michael Dell’s name does not appear in the cast list of the Union’s Cinderella, and the role of Cinderella is played by Steven Metcalfe.

Steven recalls:

Roy co-directed it with Alan (Ormandy) who also choreographed. The act “Boys Plus” evolved from that, as they were all in it. The sound was all done by Martyn Smith who did the “Dissappointer Sisters” tracks and sound.

We had scenery and lovely costumes. David Delacey made all my costumes… it was played live, but with mimed songs.  I think Michael (Dell) bowed out as he felt he couldn’t do it. I remained friends with Roy ever since. “

 1981

January: The Stage:

The Pure Corn company plans to take male chauvinism to its furthest extent later this month with an all-male panto to be staged as the Golden Lane Theatre, EC1.  The cast of “Sinderfella” will include Mrs Shufflewick, Chubby Oates, Lee Tracey, Tommy Osborne, Nikky Young, Roy Alvis, Stevie Knight, Robert Brown, Ronnie Clegg Duo, Bobby Davro and the Camp de Ballet.

 Roy teamed up in pantomime with Michael Dell who he had known since he began his career, and continued to work as “Alvis & Dell”, and then as a Pantomime Dame until his retirement in 2000. He worked with many stars and managements who all recall how warm and friendly and generous he was.

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Many thanks to Vivyan Ellacott for research into Roy’s Career in Pantomime & Clubland.

TRIBUTES:

Paul Holman

A great performer. Had the privilege working with him in Weston, Porthcawl and Camberley. Beautiful warm motherly dame who never had an unkind word to say about anyone.He was a lovely guy, always very kind and caring in his approach with others. Also a great smile. I loved his (Panto) warmup every year.

Jennifer Haley

Roy Alvis was a lovely man. By the time I met him he was playing Dame in pantos, previously he had played Ugly Sister with his partner Danny O’Dell.  He did several pantos for Phillip and me (Charles Haley Productions) in the 1980s and was an excellent Dame in the old fashioned way. A sad loss.

 Steven Metcalf

Roy was so supportive and would go anywhere to see a show, or attend a function. He came with friends to see the first and biggest “Danny La Rue” exhibition Annie (Galbraith) and I did in Tunbridge. He stayed all day!

Tributes from Facebook from Roy’s friends and colleagues in Pantoland:

Jessica Muschamp

My friend Roy Alvis, panto Dame extraordinaire, passed away yesterday. We met when I played Snow White at the Theatre Royal, Hanley (Stoke-On-Trent) in 1990-91 and he was a true gentleman. He taught me so much about panto, about stagecraft, about timing. About the cheesy panto jokes and how much the punters loved them! And those outfits- a new one in every scene! So many quick changes. But most of all, he was delightful company and a warm wonderful friend. How we laughed in the pub every night after our 2 show days- and how welcoming you were to my parents. So very sad you’ve passed away. I hope your opening night in Heaven is a riot- and that the other Angels aren’t too jealous that your wings have more sparkles than theirs.

Michael Gattrell

My first ever involvement with a professional Panto was ‘Dick Whittington’ in Horsham in 1991 and gracing the stage as the Dame was Roy Alvis, such a warm, generous and funny man and had a lovely array of frocks and a few years later he returned to play Dame Trott with Matthew Davies and Cousin Hebe in ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’.   My 25th Panto this year and I think it will be in his honour .

Iain Maxstead

Just learnt of the passing of one of the great dames of Drag the lovely Roy Alvis, such a huge loss to so many great friends. Bless you and thank you for your friendship the many, many chats, advice and laughter, not just for me but for so many of us over so many years.  You join many of our wonderful Dames in what has been a year when many wonderful stars have been taken from the world of entertainment.  Our love,  pride and thoughts are with Wahed and your many friends and family whom you held such love for.  We are proud to have had you guide us and support us and glad to have been friends to you in return.

Bethan Roberts

Performing with you on stage, gossiping with you in your changing room, trying on your wigs and having you stay with us for Christmas are some of my favourite childhood moments. The little colourful elephant you once sent me from Sri Lanka is on my bedside table, he’ll stay with me always, just as you, my Dame, always have.

Pip Watson

I don’t have words to say how sad and shocked I am to hear this news. Roy was the beginning of my life in showbiz and I owe my career to this wonderful man. Tomorrow there will be flowers

John McManus

Just read the sad news about the lovely Roy Alvis.  I had the pleasure of him being my Dame Trott in Jack & the Beanstalk, a wonderful performer & a lovely friend , RIP you wonderful , talented , kind & funny man .