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Now Here’s A Funny Story!

Anyone younger than 40 years of age will likely have little or no knowledge of what is known as the golden age of British music hall, whilst most readers of a certain age may well be familiar with Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington Green and It’s a long way to Tipperary.

Lingfield actor, musician and the show’s author, Mitch Feral, originally showcased Now Here’s A Funny Story! at The Club For Actors in Covent Garden in February – he is now bringing the show to West Hoathly Village Hall.

Performing as his alter ego, Mr Tommy Parsons, along with actress and singer, Airlie Scott, the show is directed by Jan Hunt, who has previously appeared on The Good Old Days and received great acclaim for her lead role in The Life of Marie Lloyd. She also recently co-produced UK tours of Dinnerladies, Keeping up Appearances, Rising Damp and Birds of A Feather.

What is known as the golden age of music hall was a popular form of entertainment that began in the 1850’s, having its heyday in the 1890’s before giving way to variety and dance halls from the 1920’s onwards.

The BBC television show, The Good Old Days that aired throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, endeavoured to bring the music hall days back to life. The aims of Now Here’s A Funny Story! is to recapture some of the spirit of music hall for those who are familiar and to offer an introduction to a younger generation, with an aim to open up this slice of cultural history to schools, clubs, provincial touring theatres and community centres.

Whilst it is not possible to cover the whole vast array of artistes who performed in the music halls, the entertainers do hope to offer a tantalising outline and give a broad historical context for a cultural phenomenon that spanned the same decades as the first industrial and technological revolutions, the triumph of universal suffrage for ordinary men and women as well as the sacrifices of
the First World War.

The songs and artistes very much reflected the era that they were in and, what originally started out as a form of cheap entertainment for the working classes, was eventually adopted by the upper classes, who tried to cash in on the popular entertainment with the likes of Champagne Charlie.

There will be the opportunity to join in a sing-a-long with classics such as The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo, Goodbye Dolly and Don’t Dilly Dally On The Way. Author Mitch Feral has written a number of stage works including the musicals, Barnstormers, Street Cries in 2013 and in 2010, he won the offcut short play award for Sweet Engineering Of The Lucid Mind.

Actress and singer Airlie Scott is a regular on the jazz circuit, appearing in London’s West End and New York’s Broadway and has also appeared as Theresa May in Brexit the Musical.
This is a wonderful opportunity to glimpse an overview of the history of music hall with some highly professional performers to entertain you, without having to catch the train to London.

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Now Here’s A Funny Story! is performed at West Hoathly Village Hall, North Lane, West Hoathly RH19 4QG.  Tickets cost £10.00 or £8.00 for concessions, the organiser of a group of 10 receives a free ticket.


By Rachel Whitlam

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