Ziegfeld

Louise Gold starred as Fanny Brice and other assorted characters at London Palladium, from: Tuesday 26 April 1988, revamped Tuesday 2 August 1988. Closed 1 October 1988.

Basically Louise Gold's job in the show was to play the resident female comedians of the Ziegfeld shows. Geoffrey Hutchings being her male counterpart. Like Fanny Brice, Louise Gold has a flair for getting away with totally ridiculous numbers, she is one of those rare talents in can make an unusual interpretation work; which if anyone else tried to do that way, wouldn't work, but when she does it she pulls it off.

The show had a troubled history, three months after opening the show was extensively revamped, with endless changes, summed up by Louise herself as:

Its ordeal by fire. You think Im going on at the Palladium in front of 2,600 people with a number Ive rehearsed for half an hour. Im halfway between a nightmare and real excitement. But the way it happened is horrible. Louise Gold to Tim Rayment, THE SUNDAY TIMES, 22 May 1988

But even those rapid changes did not stop the turkey from crashing during the autumn Like many a flop show it was nicknamed, in Ziegfeld's case "Fielding's Follies" after its main backer Harold Fielding.

The character-actor listing below may not be entirely accurate for every performance, the show was continually being worked on: For example, in the limited edition LP of the show, Louise Gold and Geoffrey Hutchings sing a song by the songwriters Ed Gallagher and Al Sheen, as Ed Gallagher and Al Sheen, so presumably at some point during the run of the show Louise played Ed Gallagher (however, I have not so far found a programme listing her as doing so).

 

Cast

 

On Opening (26 April 1988)

Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, also: (singer in Dates To Remember) - Len Cariou

Goldie (Ziegfeld's secretary), also: Madam Lillian (the millener)/Janet (the planet), solo singer (various)/ Telephonist - Louise Gold

Writer/Narrator, also: Solo Singer (various)/Milkman/The entire staff of the restaurant/Gangster - Geoffrey Hutchings

The Dolly Sisters - Jaynee and Michelle Jordan

Anna Held - Fabienne Guynon

Lillian Lorraine (Mary Frances Brennan) - Aiki Georgiou

Billie Burke - Hayden Gwynne

Marilyn Miller - Amanda Rickard

Maitre d'/ Clergyman etc - Jonathan Owen

Gangster's moll - Susan Holland

Ensemble (Ziegfeld Girls, Male Chorus, Reporters, Gangsters etc):

Madeline Aveson, Nicola Bacon, Miranda Bass, Suzanne Bennett, Sonia Boddy, Karen Bruce, Terry Cavanagh, Jacey Collins, Lisa-Marie Danby, Anna David, Sarah Dyall, Marie Gallanghar, Emma Hendry, Stephanie Hicks, Sallie Jay, Hannah-Jane Johnson, Helen Kelly, Jill Marshall, Fiona McKenzie, Clare Monk, Karen Newsome, Gyanna Oladjins, Suzanne Parker, Sandy Phillips, Catherine Rees, Julie Shippam, Keely Ann Smith, David Ashley, Paul Dansbury, Jason di Mascio, Richard Gough, Angus Michael Todd, Jon Smart, and Jeremy Woolston.

 

Understudies:

for Amanda Rickard - Sarah Dyall and Claire Monk

for Louise Gold - Susan Holland

for Fabienne Guyon - Julia Howson

for Haydn Gwynne - Julia Howson

for Aliki Georgiou - Susan Holland

for Geoffrey Hutchings - Jonathan Owen

Swing dancers - William Folan-Conray, Julia Howson, Claire Lynd, Fiona McKenzie, Alexandra Moore, and Nikki Squires

 

After the revamp (2 August 1998)

Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, also: Singer (in Dates To Remember)/ Ed Gallagher - Topol

Fanny Brice, also: Uncle Sam, solo singer (various)/ Telephonist, Miss Whoopee - Louise Gold

Writer/Narrator, also: Eddie Cantor, Ramone, Will Rogers,Solo Singer (various) /Gangster/Al Sheen - Geoffrey Hutchings

The Dolly Sisters - Jaynee and Michelle Jordan

Anna Held - Fabienne Guynon

Lillian Lorraine (Mary Frances Brennan) - Aiki Georgiou

Billie Burke - Hayden Gwynne

Marilyn Miller - Amanda Rickard

Maitre d'/ Clergyman etc - Jonathan Owen

Goldie (Ziegfeld's secretary) - Susan Holland

Ensemble (Ziegfeld Girls, Male Chorus, Reporters, Gangsters etc):

Madeline Aveson, Nicola Bacon, Miranda Bass, Emma Bennett, Sonia Boddy, Karen Bruce, Terry Cavanagh, Jacey Collins, Lisa-Marie Danby, Anna David, Sarah Dyall, Marie Gallanghar, Emma Hendry, Stephanie Hicks, Sallie Jay, Hannah-Jane Johnson, Helen Kelly, Jill Marshall, Fiona McKenzie, Clare Monk, Karen Newsome, Gyanna Oladjins, Suzanne Parker, Sandy Phillips, Catherine Rees, Julie Shippam, Keely Ann Smith, David Ashley, Paul Dansbury, Jason di Mascio, Richard Gough, Angus Michael Todd, Jon Smart, and Jeremy Woolston.

 

Understudies:

for Amanda Rickard - Sarah Dyall and Claire Monk

for Louise Gold - Susan Holland

for Fabienne Guyon - Julia Howson

for Haydn Gwynne - Julia Howson

for Aliki Georgiou - Susan Holland

for Geoffrey Hutchings - Jonathan Owen

for Jaynee and Michelle Jordan - Sally Jay

standby for Topol - Mark Urquhart

Swing dancers - William Folan-Conray, Julia Howson, Claire Lynd, Fiona McKenzie, Alexandra Moore, and Nikki Squires

 

Production Team

 

 On Opening (26 April 1998)

Conceived/Directed/Choreographed by - Joe Layton

Book - Ned Sherrin and Alistair Beaton

Score devised by - Michael Reed

Score written by - (various people)

Dcor - Robin Don

Costumes - Theoni V Aldredge

Lighting - Tharon Musser

Musical Director - Paul Bateman

Sound - Edward Fardell

Dance Music - Marvin Laird.

 

After the revamp (2 August 1988)

Additional Direction -Wendy Toye

Conceived/Directed/Choreographed by - Joe Layton

Book - Ned Sherrin and Alistair Beaton

Score devised by - Michael Reed

Score written by - (various people)

Dcor - Robin Don

Costumes - Theoni V Aldredge

Lighting - Tharon Musser

Musical Director - Paul Bateman

Sound - Edward Fardell

Dance Music - Marvin Laird

 

The cast made a very limited edition LP recording of parts of the show, only 250 copies were printed.

Although the major revamp occurred on 2 August 1988. There had been a mini-revamp on the 16 May 1988, when Len Cariou resigned, and was replaced (at that afternoons matinee) as Ziegfeld by his understudy Marc Urquhart (until Topol took over the role on 2 August 1988). Meanwhile on the same day, director Joe Layton was replaced by Tommy Steele. In addition there were endless changes throughout the shows infamous seven month run.

According to The Guinness Book Of Records, Ziegfelds losses of around 3 million are equal to those of King (a musical about Martin Luther King that ran for 6 weeks in London ending on 2 June 1990), and are the joint second greatest theatrical losses. First place for this record goes to Carrie produced in New York in May 1988, which lost around 4.2 million.

Len Cariou, who starred in this production when it opening is no stranger to starring in unfortunate shows, he also starred, along with Liz Robertson (Lerner) in Alan J Lerner's last Broadway Show, Dance A Little Closer, which lasted precisely one night on Broadway, and was thereafter nicknamed "Closed A Little Sooner".

In fact Len Cariou was not the only cast member with previous experience of notable flops. Five years before Ziegfeld, Louise Gold appeared in a tour of Bryony Laverys play Bag, whose gala opening night, in Grantham, was so poorly attended a disaster, that it too got into the Guinness Book Of Records.

Louise Gold had previously appeared in another Ned Sherrin and Alistair Beaton concoction Metropolitan Mikado and highlights from that featured in Ratepayers' Iolanthe & Metropolitan Mikado

Hayden Gwynne went on to appear as Alex The Assistant Editor in Channel 4's Drop The Dead Donkey.

Michael Reed went on to conduct The BBC Concert Orchestra for Sondheim At The Barbican, and to play the piano for A Love Letter To Dan. He recording credits include conducting on Great Duets From The Musicals, The Great Musicals - Wonderful Tales, The Great Musicals Glamour And Majesty, and, The Great Musicals Laughter And Tears.

Louise Gold and Geoffrey Hutchings both went on to appear in the film Topsy Turvy .

Len Carious recording credits include The History Of The Musical, The Best Of The Musicals, 100 Hits Musicals, and, The Great Musicals - From Broadway to Hollywood.

Ned Sherrin went on to work on Chicago & Company, Broadway To Brighton, CLICs 18th Birthday Celebration, Ned Sherrins Review Of Revue, The Side By Side By Sondheim 25th Anniversary Gala, and, Side By Side By Sondheim 30th Anniversary Gala. He may also have been involved with Will-Aid and Comedy Tonight.

Julia Howson went on to feature on the album Anything Goes (recording) - Website Recommended Album

Topols recording credits include The Greatest Musicals of the 20th Century, which Paul Bateman also worked on.

While the ensemble pre and post revamp remained largely unchanged, Suzanne Bennett appears to have become listed as Emma Bennett in the post revamp version, whether this is the same actress I do not know.

One of the revamp additions was the song Making Whoopee, sung by Ziegfeld, Topol, to Miss Whoopee, Louise Gold. This interpolation was because the song happens to be a particular favourite of the Additional Director, Wendy Toye, who actually performed it back in 1947 in her audition for the role of Winnie Tate in the original London production of Annie Get Your Gun.

One of the songs in the show was Mister Gallagher And Mister Sheen which was written by Ed Gallagher and Al Sheen for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922. As they recorded it, they also presumably introduced it themselves in the show. The lyrics were later rewritten by Johnny Mercer for Bing Crosby as Mister Crosby And Mister Mercer, a number about Swing and Jazz, which of course was sung on radio by Bing Crosby and Johnny Mercer.

The Dolly Sisters were also represented in Julia And Company.

Five years later Ned Sherrin, Paul Bateman, and Louise Gold were reunited for Noel/Cole: Let's Do It and the latter two feature on the album Noel/Cole: Lets Do It (Recording)

Ned Sherrin may have previously taken part in Thing A Thon.

After Ned Sherrins death The Company Of Mary Poppins late night FUNdraising cabaret special was dedicated to him.

Twelve years later Louise Gold appeared in another musical with a very Ziegfeld Follies theme, the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies, in which she played Phyllis Rogers Stone, an ex-Follies girl attending a reunion of ex-Follies girls, where they stumble through a song or two - which in Louise Golds case included some sensational tap dancing!

Alistair Beaton also wrote material for Spitting Image, he went on to provide additional material for a production The Gondoliers, featuring Louise Gold (she sang some of his additional material).

Helen Kelly is not the actress of the same name who appeared in Mexican Hayride, that was a younger lady.

Louise Gold had previously appeared at The London Palladium in The Royal Variety Performance (1977), she went on to appear in another charity concert, Kids At Heart. Sixteen years after Ziegfeld, Louise Gold finally returned to The London Palladium in a big hit West End show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

 

Critics Comments

On Opening (26 April 1998)

 "Spitting Image's Louise Gold is as funny as ever" Hilary Bonner, DAILY MIRROR, 27 April 1988

 "Louise Gold is a fine comedienne who crops up in several roles" Michael Darvell, WHATS ON, 4 May 1988

Ziegfelds contribution to comedy, however much he hated it, is also dealt with perfunctorily, Geoffrey Hutchings and Louise Gold being saddled with playing both characters in the biographical episodes and hinting at the comedy stars used as little as possible by Ziegfeld. Peter Hepple, THE STAGE, 5 May 1988.

 "Of the best of the women, Louise Gold sings robustly in a number of roles." Francis King, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, 1 May 1988

 "As for Louise Gold and Geoffrey Hutchings - they take on far too many characters to establish their identities-marvellously amusing though Ms Gold briefly is as a sentimental telephonist playing cupid between Mr and Mrs Ziegfeld." Maureen Paton, DAILY EXPRESS, 27 April 1988

 "I was pleasantly surprised to find a damn good story-line played with convincing emotion by the principal performers, especially Louise Gold, Geoffrey Hutchings and of course Len Cariou" Richard Perry, Letter in THE STAGE, 5 May 1988

 

After the revamp (2 August 1998)

 "The trans continental telephone call between Ziegfeld his second wife Billie Burke (Haydn Gwynne) - is 'hilariously edited' by telephone operator Louise Gold who also doubles bravely and brassily as Fanny Brice" Paul Chand, THE STAGE, 18 August 1988

 "Louise Gold's delightfully gauche Fanny Brice and Amanda Rickard's high-kicking blaze of athleticism and verbal pyrotechnics - provide comic and sexual dynamism otherwise missing." Nicholas de Jongh, THE GUARDIAN, 4 August 1988

 "Louise Gold - provokes the first ovation of the evening with "Second Hand Rose" without resorting to Streisand imitation." Martin Hoyle, FINANCIAL TIMES, 3 August 1988

 "Louise Gold and Geoffrey Hutchings are again way ahead on all points" Sue Jameson LONDON BROADCASTING, 3 August 1988

  "The talented comedians Louise Gold and Geoffrey Hutchings were completely wasted in such a gaudy ragbag of a show" Maureen Paton, DAILY EXPRESS, 18 August 1988

Fanny Brice was identified on the stage but not in the programme, but that didnt matter, because with Louise Gold we finally got a spurt of the life which had been desperately lacking theretofore. John Russell Taylor, PLAYS INTERNATIONAL, September 1988

 "The rest of the cast are doubtless exhausted by working on a show that is so dreadful it has become a parody of a parody. Only Louise Gold has a good enough voice and presence to belt out a decent tune." Val Sampson, TODAY, 3 August 1988

 "what comedy there was has been reduced to a shadow of a shadow leaving the talented Mr Geoffrey Hutchings and Louise Gold - previously the professional highlights of the entire event - with little more to do than sit backstage and polish their nails." Jack Tinker, DAILY MAIL, 5 August 1988

 

Links about Ziegfeld

Mark Shentons Blog Entry (refers to this production of the show): http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/shenton/2008/08/a-very-british-preoccupation/#more

 

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