Roy Hudd mixes Oscar Wilde and music hall in Brighton
Roy Hudd admits that Oscar Wilde isn’t really his scene.
“Smart-ar*e one-liners aren’t really my thing!”
But he is having an absolute ball in Classic Spring’s A Woman of No Importance which heads to Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday, September 23-Saturday, September 28.
“I am enjoying it very much. The snatcher for me was to be able to sing three smashing old songs in it.
“I have been singing since I was a child. I am a fan of Oscar Wilde, as everybody is, but I didn’t really think it was for me.
“But we have got a terrific cast and it is great fun.
“My agent said to them ‘I don’t know about Oscar Wilde and what he will do with it’, but the idea was that I come on to cover the three Acts, the three changes of set.
“But actually, I am playing the Archdeacon.
“I have only ever played the comedy vicars before, so this is promotion!
“And it is supposed to be like a house party, and the old Archdeacon has these turns.
“He entertains people. The songs are all from the period.
“They let me pick they songs. It has been a hobby of mine, ever since I was a child.
“I have got a collection of thousands of songs. My gran, who brought me up, used to sing all the songs, certainly the music hall songs. I was interested in all that from when I was very young.
“It is just that the music hall songs are so interesting. I love good stories. I love the music hall songs, the way they tell a story.
“They are not just glib songs that don’t mean anything. They all tell a story, and the three that I have chosen are stories that perhaps the Archdeacon might use in a sermon.”
Roy was brought up by his gran. His mother died during the war and his father was away in the army.
“So my gran brought us up on an old-age pension and she always made sure that we had a seat every Tuesday up in the gods at the Croydon Empire. We were up in the gods watching every show. My gran loved it.
“She loved joining in the songs. It was an education. It was just after the war and a lot of people that were on the bill were people who were just coming through, and topping the bill there was always an old-timer that my gran would remember.
“And I thought it was great. I have always loved making people laugh, and I just thought ‘Well, if I can do that, then that’s for me.’
“I then joined the boys club in Croydon because I wanted to play table tennis.
“They wanted to keep us off the streets, and they said ‘You can play table tennis, but we also want you to do some improving activities as well.’
“I looked down the list and there were things like metalwork and woodwork and car maintenance,
“And I thought ‘Not even I want to play table tennis that much!’ But then I saw on the list that there was ‘concert party.’
“The chap that used to run it was an old performer who used to produce the shows. We did about four a year. His name was Tom Cooper, would you believe, and he used to run those shows with a rod of iron.
“Every year we used to have one big charity event, and they would get big names topping the bill.
“We used to open the show every year, and it was a bit like a scout gang show at the beginning, but we used to be a bit more ambitious – and we used to do little parodies.
“I got a laugh and I came off and there was a bloke in the wings watching who said ‘You should do this for a living!’ It was Michael Bentine!
“I thought ‘Well, if he thinks I am alright, then I might be alright!’
“I told him about it later and he said ‘That’s right! Blame me! Either that or the public will!’”
Tickets for A Woman of No Importance are available from Theatre Royal Brighton from https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-brighton