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Croft Hall - With a Little Bit o' Luck

8th April 2005.

This was the NWN review.

A turn back in time

Dave Sealey: With A Little Bit O’Luck, at Croft Hall, Hungerford, on Friday, April 8

One of my early childhood recollections was listening to my parents’ crackly old record of Stanley Holloway reciting his most famous monologues. I was enchanted by Sam (Pick Up Thy Musket) Small and young Albert’s stick with the horse-head handle, but it was many years before I found out how extensive the Holloway repertoire really was.

Dave Sealey brought the whole Stanley Holloway story vividly to life with his one-man show in Hungerford.

Before an eager audience in the fine surroundings of Croft Hall (undeterred by the hall’s heating problems), Dave provided two full hours of anecdotes, songs, and monologues about one of the great figures of the English stage.

From the performer’s early days in silent movies, his thwarted aspirations to become an opera singer, and his entry into seaside variety shows, Dave traced the Holloway story through his roles in the post-war Ealing comedy gems, such as Passport to Pimlico, to the runaway success (on both stage and screen) of his character Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady – at an age when most people would be seriously considering retirement.

Sealey gave a highly-polished and engaging performance, interspersing a broad range of famous and lesser-known Holloway masterpieces, with a running commentary that cleverly incorporated recollections from his own career in variety entertainment with those of his subject.

With a great talent for characterisation and impressive comic timing, he breathed new life into the more familiar pieces and encouraged the audience to join in with immortal chorus lines including I’m Getting Married In The Morning and Brown Boots.

Thanks to such great writers such as Marriott Edgar and Lerner and Lowe, Stanley Holloway achieved a breathtaking range of performances and theatrical styles that spanned the best part of the 20th century.

Though some pieces have stood the test of time better than others (My Word You Do Look Queer loses something in translation!), he will long be remembered with affection and admiration.

Dave Sealey should be heartily congratulated for keeping the story alive with such tremendous enthusiasm. Wiv A Little Bit O’ Luck, he’ll be back with another show soon.