Last year’s Royal Variety Performance proved to be one of the best in recent years when it hit the road to Blackpool’s Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales attended and Jason Manford hosted.
What of this year’s show?
It is early days of course and the first journey north for nine years was a huge success last year but it does seem likely that London will claim this very special show back for the 2021 performance.
The origins of the Royal Variety Performance date back to 1912, when His Majesty King George V and Her Majesty Queen Mary agreed to attend a ‘Royal Command Performance’ at the Palace Theatre in London’s Cambridge Circus in aid of the VABF – Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund (the previous name of the Royal Variety Charity) and its proposed plans to build an extension to its Care Home for elderly entertainers, Brinsworth House. This first staging was a lavish occasion with over 3 million roses draped around the auditorium.
Nearly all the great names of British variety and music hall gathered at the Palace Theatre before King George V, Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales. One notable absentee was Marie Lloyd whose superstar status did not over-ride the fact that her act was considered a little too bawdy for the royal family.
Nevertheless is was a memorable night of British entertainment, with stars such as comic Harry Lauder, Harry Tate, the ‘Prime Minister of Mirth’ George Robey, dancer Anna Pavolva and the ‘White-Eyed Kaffir’ G.H.Chirgwin, Harry Tate, Vesta Tilley, Little Tich, Alfred Lester and a full support company ensuring that this was not only a show to remember but the start of something exceptionally big.
That first show was in London and most Royal Performances have also been in London so it is very likely that it will be back in the capital again in 2021. It will not just be a charity show though nor even another Royal Variety Performance, it will be party time, a celebration that the lights are back on in Theatreland.