When my grandparents died I ended up with a big box of leaflets, programmes and tickets they’d accumulated over the years. Sadly my mam flatly refused to let me keep them all (I suspect she wanted the Fortnum & Mason hamper). Therefore, last time I was at home I had the task of sorting them out.
Box (hamper) of delights
My grandparents got to see some amazing casts in their time. Look at this cast list for A Room With a View – it includes Jane Lapotaire and Derek Jacobi!
A Room With a View cast list
I found this little gem while rummaging through the hamper – a programme signed by Tommy Steele. Steele is an incredibly long-running performer who just two years ago was still performing in Scrooge at the Palladium (impressively full of energy despite being 75 at the time). He also happens to share a name with my granda (well, except for the rogue “e” at the end of Steele, and for the fact that my granda was always Thomas, or Tom, never, to my knowledge, Tommy).
Programme signed by Tommy Steele
I was rather pleased to find this programme for Dangerous Corner, as I was due to see the play myself a few weeks later (I thoroughly enjoyed it when I did see it).
Programme for Dangerous Corner
A joyous find – a programme for a version of The Lambton Worm, complete with the words of the song. All together now: “Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An aa’ll tell ye aall an aaful story…”
The Lambton Worm
I can’t remember which programmes these were, but I had to record this hair and that moustache for posterity.
My grandparents must have visited Newcastle Theatre royal a lot, judging by the number of programmes I found. Fun story: a few years before I was born, my grandparents took my parents to see a Shakespeare play here, one of two that the RSC were touring that season. My granda then booked for the other play, but when they all turned up that evening, it was the same play again… oops. At least that’s unlikely to happen with online booking!
Newcastle Theatre Royal programmes
The Royal Shakespeare Company have had a season in Newcastle for years (my first experience of the RSC’s work was the 2002 production of Antony and Cleopatra) and my grandparents had kept leaflets from nearly every year.
RSC in Newcastle
I was thrilled to find this programme for To Kill A Mockingbird at the Darlington Civic Theatre as I remember my grandparents taking me. It was the first, or at least one of the first, productions I saw with them that wasn’t a pantomime, and I loved it.
To Kill A Mockingbird programme
Talking about pantomime, here are some panto programmes!
My grandparents liked travelling to London when they could and going to see West End shows. I was rather jealous to find programmes from the original runs of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon and Starlight Express.
Original West End programmes
If I was ever in any doubt about where I get my theatre obsession from, that doubt would now be dispelled. I miss my grandparents, but at least I have lots of good memories of going to the theatre with them.