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L&H - biographical plays and films

 
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Lux Son
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:35 pm    Post subject: L&H - biographical plays and films Reply with quote

I was wondering whether anyone saw the play on Laurel and Hardy by Tom McGrath this year? What did you think of it?

I saw a play called "Laurel and Hardy" at Derby Playhouse circa 1991, but I'm not sure it's the same one. The one I saw was having it's world premier at the DP.

I've been trying to identify/ remember who this play was by. It was performed in the small Studio and was a two man show (three if you include the piano player that banged out the familiar L&H tunes throuhout the show).

What has me surprised was that I've never seen or heard of it being performed anywhere else....and it was IMHO ...brilliant. At the end I had tears in my eyes, as Laurel and Hardy walked together into the bright lights (symbolic of them dying and going to heaven) arm in arm. I'd love to see it again someday.

Did anyone else see this play? I still have the badge with the logo of the play on it. I'll try and scan/post it to see if it jogs a few memories.

Wonder when a definitive film of the lives of L&H will be made!
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Ross
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeh, we at the Fra Diavolo tent of Scotland went to the show when it opened in Edinburgh ealier in the year. The 2 lead actors Steve and Barnaby launched our tent in June and are honorary members. The show was magnificent and I am hoping someone from Ireland can give us a report of how the Dublin run went recently.

click on these links for more stories and photos of our time at the play.

http://laurelandhardyforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=756

http://laurelandhardyforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=927

http://laurelandhardyforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=648
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Last edited by Ross on Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lux Son
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds very much like the one I saw in Derby back in 91 (since there's a piano involved). How many in the cast? Did it end a bit like I described?

Maybe it was an updated version of that one.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeh it's the exact same play, just with different actors. It's been running on and off for over 25 years and was relaunched in May this year. Smile

There was 3 in the cast including the pianist.

Have a look through the links I gave you and you will see photos of scenes from the play, reviews etc.
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Last edited by Ross on Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 1992 the Play Laurel & Hardy by Tom McGrath appeared in Ascot, Berkshire so it was indeed on the road at that time. I am 100% confident that it was the McGrath play you saw in Derby.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of the Jitterbugs Ireland tent went along to the show in Dublin and it was excellent. Here's a review that appeared in our tents newsletter
(btw the show was on in the Olympia theatre in Dublin, the same venue where the Boys actually played as part of their European tours over half a century before!!).

A Night Out with Laurel and Hardy

Recently several members of out tent (and some of their long suffering wives!) headed out to the Olympia Theatre in Dame Street to see the stage play of ‘Laurel and Hardy’. Resembling the audience in the Muppet show we took our allotted seats as some familiar music began. The show is based on Tom McGrath’s play about Stan and Ollie, the premise of which has our hero’s reflecting over their lives and loves. Oh, they are both dead at this stage by the way!

The first thing that struck me was the set - very simple but effective. Everything (including the actors Steven McNicoll and Barnaby Power!) got a liberal coating of various shades of grey, to give the illusion of a black and white film. They used several props and costumes but for the most part the script relied on the two actors abilities to portray multiple roles, from Hal Roach to Leo McCarey, from Stan’s dad to Ollie’s mother and of course Laurel and Hardy (at several different ages), all carried off brilliantly. However, one notable favourite prop gag was when Stan and Ollie had finally escaped from Roach studios and had signed for the big studios –the duo left as an enormous contract lowered down on stage and returned with a six foot pen to sign them! In true fashion Ollie signed with an elaborate and pompous signature, Stan with a simple X!

Most of the main points of the Boys lives were covered, from their childhoods in England and Georgia respectively, to their early careers and eventual teaming up. Their highs and lows (both on screen and off) were covered, ending up with the boys as old men. One unusual omission was their ‘comeback’ during their European tours after their film careers had ended.

The actors, for the most, played the Boys as they appeared onscreen (i.e. Stan and Ollie), but when the script called for a more dramatic theme, they played them as the actors Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. This change was quite subtle in parts, but was necessary – Stan the clown could not portray events such as tough contract dealings, disagreements with Babe, martial disharmony or excessive drinking, but Stan the actor could. The same is true for Ollie.

Ironically enough though, when the play reached its dramatic peak, the situation reversed itself. Oliver was dying but didn’t want the fans to know, only his business partner Stan. When he died, Stan reverted to form and gave his trademark cry, but for once it was not designed to get laughs and was all the more powerful for it.

The boys covered all of the better known L&H routines and gags– the dance from Flying Deuces, Fresh Fish, Soda Soda Soda, A long way from Atlanta Georgia, and of course ‘Trail of the Lonesome Pine’. They also did a paperhanging routine which although never actually appeared in the films contained several gags from various shorts and was easily recognisable as Stan and Ollie material. But in true vaudeville they left the best to last- as the show ended the duo performed a flawless rendition of the soft shoe shuffle ‘At the Ball’ from Way Out West then left through two big swing doors and were gone.

A great ending to a great play – it avoided the trap of being over sentimental or being too much like a pantomime and yet treated its subjects in the half-assed dignity they required. It showed the Boys strengths and frailties and was all the better for it.

Over eighty years since they first teamed up, Laurel and Hardy are still funny and still capable of making audiences laugh out loud…but hey, you knew that already, didn’t you?
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Lux Son
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I was there to see it....bad timing, as I visit Dublin (in-laws) twice a year usually.

Again it sounds very much the play I saw in 91, though it appears that it has been modifed a little over the years. The one I saw didn't end 'At the Ball'.
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Neil
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saw it in Oldham a few years back , Great play , and there wasn`t a dry eye in the house at the end , brilliantly put together
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