Ginger Geezer






Down behind the bar, before Vivian began making the posters.


ONCE UPON A TIME... OLD PRO did PRESENT:



  • MOBY DICK! the Musical , by Robert Longden and Hereward Kaye. Moby Dick is out there - Save the Whale! Oh, to see it again...

  • Vivian woo'd saxophonist Andy Sheppard off the stage and up into the wheelhouse so he might play V's songs...

  • When Keith Tippett sat down at the keyboard, the house was packed. (Always put a brick in our piano.)

  • Patrick Malahide adopted us. And Ki, him.

  • David Rappaport would MD anything. If he wasn't on the stage, he was behind it.

  • When John Otway showed up... we all watched in nervous wonder. And then there was Wild Willy Barrett. Both enough to sink the ship.

  • Jason Connery plus the entire cast of Robin of Sherwood hung out in the Old Pro.

  • Bert Jansch was a stunning regular... came down with Cliff Angier.

  • The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School brought us so many plays, I can't even begin to recall them all. Kooniwackahoy. Gilgamesh. School for Scoundrels. A mere timid beginning.

  • What was Keith Allen doing on board? Or Rik Mayall? Or Alexi Sayle? (Weird bloke.) Can't remember. But there they were. You'd meet them in the corridors.

  • John Randall, stage manager at the Hippodrome , was never far away - helped us in so many ways.

  • Richard Vranch and Tony Slattery as AFTERTASTE came whenever we needed them - which was often. Especially one hallowed Hallowe'en when they dashed all the way from London to put on a Midnight Show. Oh lord. Very special.

  • Back then, Nikki B, now NEVER THE BRIDE, almost grew up on our stage. Vivian groomed her, sang with her, rated her highly.

  • The Desperate Men were so wonderful that, like Nikki, we forced them into Stinkfoot.

  • Rumillatya would come twice a year. We never understood a word they said, but we could hear them... I can still hear them.

  • Everyone got really happy when ZOOT & THE ROOTS showed up.

  • Paul Merton came with Steve Murray. What happened to Steve Murray?

  • The LIVERPOOL POETS came and went as poets often do.

  • GAY SWEATSHOP was, and I hope still is, a brilliant theatre troop fighting the good cause - which is nothing more and nothing less than blessed tolerance. The year they came to our stage, some cleaning lady, terrified of 'catching' AIDS, refused to work another theatre they were booked in. Once this happened, other idiots in other theatres began closing their doors to the troop. Sadly, they called me and said they couldn't come to us as arranged because they could no longer afford to work for the 'door'. Pissed off at the whole thing, I guaranteed them their normal fee - all of it. Ordinarily, we couldn't pay anyone any kind of guarantee, so this time I thought we'd just have to eat it... and all in the name of art, and - if you like - goodness. But that didn't stop me from talking to everyone I knew about the nonsense suddenly afflicting these artists. Outraged, I got scads of newspaper space and reems of radio time so that by the night, we were bloody packed to the hatches. The door made Gay Sweatshop's guarantee and more. Great night. Great troop. Up the artist. Up the gay artist. (No snickering. I won't have it.)


    ... and then there were the Soul Searchers , the Ya Yas, Steve Payne and his various bands, Flash Harry (whose lead singer, Pete Watson, became Stinkfoot's MD), Gee Baby I Love You . What else? There were garage bands and punk bands and before very long it was all I could do to get my people to work the nights they came - but they paid for our theatre! So the bravest of us wore Kevlar vests and spiked helmets and somehow got through it. And then we'd have - WACK & ZANE! (Where are you Wack? Where are you Zane?) We'd have Chicane's Law starring Steve Howe . (Steve came to us fresh faced and spiky with talent... and he never got away again.) Or we'd have the Go-Go Boys (and therein lies a theatrical tale of hubris and joy) and the troop who brought us POPPIES ? (Another tale, this time merely human, of sadness and gallantry and triumph - the troop, not the play.) (Finally! I remembered! See above.) And the delicious mime we loved so much and buggered if I can remember his name. And the local poets and the painters and performance artists and that one-woman band and the hip-hoppers and more and more and more and MORE . Blot.

    Back Again . . .

















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