NEILSON’S COLUMN (October 2017): Charlie Stemp is a true triple-threat

Charlie Stemp and the company when Half a Sixpence was at Chichester. Picture by Manuel Harlan
Charlie Stemp and the company when Half a Sixpence was at Chichester. Picture by Manuel Harlan

Well, I had a long summer break, but I’m back at work, so I thought I’d better let you know what I’ve been up to.

I’m trying to see more West End theatre and despite the hefty price of a seat these days, it’s been well worth it, especially for a couple of shows.

42nd Street is a big show.

It has a cast of 50, a large orchestra and a mammoth staircase upon which the cast can exercise their phenomenal tap dancing skills.

I am lucky enough to know some of the cast and my old friend, Jae Alexander, does a fantastic job of conducting the guys in the pit, who play like their lives depend on it.

The storyline may be getting a little dated, but if you like a good old-fashioned, glitzy, Broadway show, this is one for you.

Another show I’m glad I saw before it closed was Half a Sixpence. The piece may be over 50 years old but it doesn’t seem like it, as some new numbers have been inserted and the show has been beautifully directed and designed. Of course, the performance everyone talks about (and rightly so) is Charlie Stemp in the lead role of Arthur Kips. He is hardly off the stage, from the first scene to the last. Oftentimes, this can be boring for the audience, but not in the case of Stemp, who can sing, dance and act, all to an sublime degree. If ever there was a triple-threat of a performer, it is he. Christmas will see him in panto at the London Palladium before he jets off to Broadway to star in Hello Dolly.

Speaking of Dolly, I’ve just completed the photo shoot for my panto in Kettering, where I’ll be Dame Dolly Dingbat in Snow White, alongside Matthew Lapinskas of Eastenders fame, who will be playing the handsome Prince. I’m teamed up again with my panto comedy partner Mark Pearce, which will be great fun and the entire cast are really looking forward to this one.

In other news, my underpants, which you may remember were kidnapped three years ago in Abu Dhabi, by a fellow cast member and who have their own Facebook page, (Mike’s Pants on Tour) have just returned from Dubai after a successful run.

And that folks, is the news.

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