Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor

Music Hall Memories At The Verts

Liz Coggins (L) and Carolyn Craven as Gladys and Ethel in Twice Nightly
Liz Coggins (L) and Carolyn Craven as Gladys and Ethel in Twice Nightly
The stars of yesteryear made a welcome return to the City Varieties in Leeds last night as music hall proved it was no longer just a faded memory from the 1970’s when Barney Colehan’s The Good Old Days ruled supreme.

Liz Coggins from On Stage Productions brought her show, Twice Nightly, to the Verts and gave renewed life to the likes of comedienne Hylda Baker and internationally famous male impersonator, Vesta Tilley, as part of her nostalgic look back at the once great theatres, cinemas and music halls of Leeds.

Cleverly linked by two turban clad ‘charladies’, the narration was able to move seamlessly through an extended period of history, enabling consummate performer Julia Burnett, to prove how much of an all-round entertainer she really is.

Clearly versed in the art of music hall, her Hylda Baker and Cynthia was hilarious, whilst her portrayal of Vesta Tilley, who became one of the most famous male impersonators in the world during her reign in the late 1800’s and beyond, was beautifully observed and enthusiastically presented.

This was also a great showcase for some young talent as well as the perfect training ground for those still making the journey to stardom, however, top marks to young juggler Tommy Jay who has all the hallmarks of a cabaret superstar in the making; a genuine talent.

Liz Coggins kept the production moving by closing her extended ‘char lady’ sketch at the end of the first half, after which she made the second half a vehicle for presenting her new work, Three Ships Came Sailing, to tell the story of the 1914 Scarborough Bombardment in both words and music.

It was a poignant look at a largely forgotten aspect of The Great War which cost many on the east coast their lives as The Hun reigned down bombs on the unsuspecting town.

The work was first performed at the Open Air theatre in Scarborough in August and told the story of the first attack on civilian soil during World War 1 when death came calling.

This was a classic evening of music hall and in choosing the City Varieties in Leeds to present this show, Liz Coggins, found the perfect venue for her perfect evening of classic Vaudeville-style entertainment.