Ladies and Gentlemen! Pray silence in the Dayglo! Be upstanding, if you will, for a Knight of the Realm! Have we ever been grander? I don't think so! Have we ever been smarter? No! Have we ever been more plush? Well, perhaps back when we still sported the velveteen couchettes. Today, a rare and extreme honour ... the nobbiest of nobby nobs, one of the Very Greats of Stage and Screen, a marvelous actor and a lovely man. Here gracing the newly reno'ed Dayglo (how do you like the Orange we found in the Army Surplus Store in Haight-Ashbury then?) ... someone with so many theatre credits you need another couple of pages when you print the programme, a stalwart of the RSC and the National as well as the West End in general, a great Shakespearian thesp, and, as it happens, a big old Movie Star, to boot. Of course you loved him in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and X Men, and who wouldn't? But we thought he was the bloody bees knees in Gods and Monsters, Scandal, Apt Pupil, Richard 111 and...oh, bollocks, the list is too damn long, and at the end of the day, you're here to boogaloo in the Dazzling Dayglo Disco ("Vile" -- International Herald Tribune). So put those dancing pumps back on, and put those hands in the air, and make way for the great, the one and only ... SIR ... IAN ... McKELLEN!
Music is not a daily part of my life, with no Ipod, no CD player and the radio stuck on BBC's Radio 4, which is mostly talk.
Any live music is what I like most, whether classical, jazz or pop or opera or musicals or singing in the shower. Here are my faves through the years.
The first song I remember hearing, apart from hymns and carols at church and school. This was in industrial Wigan, where Formby was born up north.
My parents took me to hear them and after the concert I queued up for the conductor's autograph. Hugh Roberton kindly asked me did I want to be a conductor when I grew up (I was 9).
At the brand-new Nottingham Playhouse in December 1963, I was sharing a dressing-room with young Michael Crawford. Leo McKern sang
The most convincing of all the other remarkable Sally Bowles. I saw Jill Howarth on my first time in New York, upstaged by Lotte Lenya and Joel Grey. In the movie, Liza sang too well. Judi breaks your heart because her Sally ain't that good singing at the Kit Kat Club. She did it again in Sean Mathias National Theatre version of Little Night Music. Her
My most treasured tape, every song a classic. How I wish I'd been there on Shakespeare's birthday 1961, instead of studying for final exams at Cambridge.
When I came out aged 49, I discovered in London a gay world I'd previously ignored, including my local gay pub in east London. Evenings at the White Swan always ended with this song as the boys swayed on the dance floor.
I was doing Amadeus on Broadway just two blocks away from Lena. Her show was chat and songs including Stormy Weather, twice.
Company is Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece, particularly in this complicated anthem, best sung, as here, by someone who understands that it's not always easy being gay in a straight world.
My favourite song tho I can't stand some of the lyric: "the wishing well" for goodness sake! Even the music almost falters at this point and singers can come crashing down. But not Holliday, who slowly wrings every thing out of everything
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