1958, London Coliseum

3rd November, 1958


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
His Royal Highness The Duke Of Edinburgh K.G., K.T

Executive Producer: Bernard Delfont

Musical Director: Harold Collins

Stage Director: Robert Nesbitt

The Royal Variety Performance 1958 marked the first of the long-running series of Delfont/Nesbit productions and began the partnership that year at the Coliseum with a large and impressive cast.

With shows like Where's Charlie? at the Palace Theatre, My Fair Lady at Drury Lane and The Merry Widow at Sadlers's Wells there was no shortage of first rate material to draw on for the Royal Variety Show - and thanks to the revolving stage at the Coliseum it was possible to include a wide-ranging and impressive selection of numbers in the programme.

1958 also marked the highly succesful debut of Roy Castle, who was later to become such a big star of both stage and screen. 'he held the audience in the palm of his hand' said one glowing notice the following day,.

Under the polished compering of Max Bygraves - a firm Royal Variety favourite by now - there was plenty of other talemnt to draw on, includign Tony Hancock who appeared as a budgerigar in a cage above the stage! He was joined in the act by the much loved Hattie Jacques playing the bird's owner.

The finale was truly spectacular, with Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway singing songs from My Fair Lady and ending with I Could Have Danced All Night accompanied by no less than three orchestras on stage conducted by Mantovani, Victor Silvester and Cyril Stapleton, with yet another orchestra in the pit.

An example of the careful scrutiny applied to material for any Royal Variety Show came from Norman Wisdom's rehearsal at the end of which he exited doing an eccentric dance step with the line "I'm trucking off" That was no sooner spoken than struck from the act on the grounds that it might be misheard!

Bernard Breslaw had a few uneasy moments with the protocol of the evening as well. A week before the show, he was told that he had been selected to be presented after the performance and would be expected to appear in tails. Now Bernard didn't possess a tail suit at the time and standing the best part of six foot five, he wasn't well placed to borrow one. The only option he had was to have one made, and the court tailors Kilgour and French agreed to have one ready for him in time. They were good as their word, but come the night Bernard was told that he was going to be presented in his stage costume after all, and his magnificent tails were denied their Royal Variety debut!

The inhibitions of the audience were nearly Tommy Steele's downfall. His surprise performance was almost literally a case of 'Singing the Blues' after his request to clap along met with a poor response. Luckily, the Queen came to his aid, clapping enthusastically and leading the rest of the house who promptly joined in.

Forty-six years after Vesta Tilley reputedly had Queen Mary retreating behind her programme, Hetty King, another male impersonator, was nearly changed at the last minute for fear of being a shade too outre. In the end the 70 year old artiste's act was allowed to remain intact. Dressed as a sailor and winking wickedly, she delighted the audience with her rendition of 'All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor'.

Anxious not to cause provocation by her distinctive way of signing, Eartha Kit said before the show, "I sure hope this performance goes all right. The last time I played before royalty - the King and Queen of Greece, in Los Angeles in 1953, I was nearly thrown out of the city! The major said I was too wicked and he said I was un-American!" Needless to say, her performance before the British Royal family was enjoyed by all.

 

Performers

"Night Of Nights" with

Talk Of The Town Girls And Boys

The Stargazers

Yana & Max Bygraves

Including: Shirley Ambrose

Margo Mitchell

Dawn Hughes

Terry James

Mary Mitchell

Gloria Kaye

Judith Harvey

Fay Laurie

Jane Burton

Christine Pocket

Jacqueline Warrell

Helen Wright

Gloria Davidson

Doreen Hermitage

Joan Jemison

Paddy James

Joyce White

Ruth Lawson

Roy Genson

Robert Lamont

Ray Tanva

Ian Kaye

Bill Harvey

Willie Martin

Karl Morley

Boyd Mackenzie

Peter Elliott & Paul Christian

"Brothers And Sisters Of Variety" With

The King Brothers

The Mudlarks

The Beverley Sisters

and The Charlivels

Tony Hancock

Cyril Stapleton And His Showband

Frankie Vaughan

Bruce Forsyth

Bernard Bresslaw

Antonio And His Spanish Ballet Company

Roy Castle

From "Large As Life" With

Harry Secombe

Harry Worth

Lynette Ray

Hattie Jacques

Max Russell

G.H.Elliott

Hetty King

The George Carden Dancers

The George Mitchell Singers

And The Ford Motor Works Military Band

"Dancing Time" With

The George Carden Dancers

The Dior Dancers

Victor Silvester And His Ballroom Orchestra

The Mecca Formation Dancers

David Nixon

Charlie Drake

Pat Boone

Mantovani

Harry Secombe And Adele Leigh

Eartha Kitt

Kenneth More

Max Bygraves

"Songs From The Shows" With

Norman Wisdom

Jerry Desmonde

Pip Hinton

Marion Grimaldi

Pamela Gale

Felix Felton

Terence Cooper

June Bronhill

Thomas Round

Rex Harrison

Julie Andrews

and Stanley Holloway

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3rd November, 1958
The Coliseum Theatre, London