Saturday, October 07, 2006

I still haven't mentioned Willy Russell's appearence on Wednesday evening; this was a major part of the LitFest. 2 or 3 years ago he came to the Gateway Theatre where he entertained a packed house with his readings; this week he entertained around 300 in the University's Binks Lecture theatre. He was made very welcome and will hopefully return to Chester before long.

Willy read, of course, from several of his ( and the audiences) favourites...bits from " Shirley Valentine" ( where, as Shirley, he talked to a kitchen wall, then to a rock on a Greek beach) and we were once again both amused and moved by her/his(!) words. I imagine this was one of the first "one woman" shows. He also told us how when the play was produced in Liverpool, "Shirl" was taken ill ( the actress Noreen Kershaw had peritonitis) and for several weeks, Willly himself stepped into the breech( or was it the dress?) saving the day ( or was it the night?) by playing her part. He must've been successful as later he was awardedThe Best Supporting Actress!

We also heard bits from Willy's novel " The Wrong Boy" published in 2000.
It's written in the voice of "a normal boy from a normal town" ; this is Failsworth, Lancashire where I've never been but feel as though I have. Once again, you laugh and you (almost) cry, as you read about the fly catching incident, meet the sexy grandad who falls off the roof and best of all ( I think! ) the Transvestite Nativity Play. This stars the delectable Twinky ( really Terry ) McDevitt as the Virgin Mary. He's picked to star because he skips in the playground, links arms with girls, gives brilliant impressions of Petula Clark and Lulu. On stage, Twinky, looking like a cross between Shirley Bassey and The Pope,upstages everyone, until the disaster at the end of the performance. Willy Russell's first novel and it's fabulous!

Yesterday when talking about the Little Theatre, I forgot to include WillyR's " Educating Rita" in the list of future productions". Margorie Alexander ( who played "Shirley Valentine" several years ago ) directs Fiona Wheatcroft as Rita and Malcolm Gledhill as her Professor. This takes place at Chester Theatre Club in the Spring.
And last Wednesday, during Willy Russell's visit to the University, Margorie and Fiona met Willy and he kindly signed their Rita scripts. ..

2 Comments:

Anonymous clare said...

Very interesting post, Jan. I remember that nativity scene from the last time Willy Russell visited. It's very funny. I still haven't read the book I bought then, I realise now.

1:53 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks Clare. Hope you can read about the most magnificent Virgin ever seen in Failsworth... before Christmas if possible!

8:01 pm  

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