Mini Last Night of the Proms at Blackheath Halls


I regard Blackheath Halls as an extension of my home, despite being a good twenty-minute car journey away. For about half the year I spend at least one evening a week there, singing; we had the party for our civil partnership there, and I am happy to turn up to be in the audience on a fairly regular basis.

The latest morsel of delight is a mini Last Night at the Proms, featuring some of my favourite collaborators from  Blackheath Halls Operas – Grant Doyle (La Boheme, The Elixir of Love, Cinderella) and Nicholas Sharratt (Elixir, Eugene Onegin).  Both great singers and lovely friendly people who treat us amateurs like equals. For some reason I cannot fathom, tickets are not exactly flying out of the computer – are people sated with Proms? Or is it just that you need the behemoth marketing skills of the BBC to promote this kind of thing? My totally biased opinion is that anything Grant and Nick are in has to be a good thing, and I don’t want to be doing a Henry V speech about we happy few.

So if you don’t want to be thinking yourselves accursed you were not there… phone the box office!

The Singing Season


Not that the singing season ever went away, it’s a bit like football, the break gets shorter all the time; but we didn’t do Sing for Water this year because of A’s broken leg, so larynx and lungs feeling a bit under used.

So the good news is that Raise the Roof is back next week, and we’ve already started Summer All Year Long back into a regular schedule (although it may be disrupted by Arachne Press activities – or not, actually as some of the repertoire is London songs with the thought that we might have a musical interlude at some of the readings.) And we’ve signed up to sing the Vivaldi Gloria for the annual Christmas spectacular at Blackheath Halls, where rumour has it Wendy Dawn Thompson will be joining us as one of the soloists.  We love Wendy, she is great fun to sing with. I’ve already bumped into two people we sing with whilst doing the rounds of bookshops and venues for readings of London Lies, and anticipation is running high!

Plans are also afoot for another workshop with Lester Simpson of Coope, Boyes & Simpson for 1st December, and on a consumption front we are booked to go to the ‘Last Night of the Mini Proms’ where the lovely and talented Messrs Grant Doyle and Nick Sharratt with whom we have sung on numerous occassions, are singing (amongst other things) the Pearl Fishers Duet, which will be distinctly lush.

© Cherry Potts 2012

Blackheath Cendrillon: A slipper and a ring


L.C. here.  This is my last post on behalf of Cherry.  She says I’ve behaved very irresponsibly and I am lucky not to have been had up in front of the Leveson Enquiry.  Anyway, I’m feeling a bit crest-fallen because I didn’t find out who the mystery woman was first after all.

But I was there, when it happened at least, and yes, I know I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, because Harriet’s lot had an exclusive; but, what the hell, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, eh?

What a turn up!  Who knew that the ghastly Haltiere woman had another daughter?  How did they hide her from the cameras?  Harriet says they thought she was a servant (in the Haltiere household read that as slave) and no-one, not even her Dad, recognised her until she took her shoes off – the heels weren’t that high.  Madame H nearly ruined my pictures blocking everything out with her giant hat.

So, anyway, Lucette de la Haltiere is our new queen. Charming looks pleased, and the King frankly, relieved.  I know you didn’t hear it here first or anything, but it’s still rather remarkable.

Sadly everything in this blog, even Elsie (yes it is Elsie, not L.C. no matter what she says) is entirely imaginary.  Thanks to Jules Massenet and his collaborators, including Harry Fehr for the inspiration of the Blackheath Halls Community Opera production of Cinderella (Cendrillon) You can read reviews of the production here and here, but the run is over, so that’s it til next year, apart from those involved in the work who get together in September to start planning … Purcell, anyone?

© Cherry Potts 2012

Blackheath Cendrillon: A Post from the Court Poet, Grand Duchess Elizabette


‘CENDRILLON’ – A TRIBUTE

The skies above were leaden, the clouds loomed dark and grey,
but, at the Halls, the mood was light, all musical and gay.
Forget the Jubilympics,  forget the Torch Relay,
‘Cinderella, the Opera’ is the order of the day.

Nick Jenkins was regaling us with tales of Gay Paree,
La Belle Epoque, the Opera, the splendid Comedie.
We worried for his sanity –  he was so darn frenetic,
so passionate, so supercharged, so horribly energetic,
that, in the end, we really felt we really had to say,
‘Take a chill pill, calm down, Nick,  it’s only Massenet.’

Now, Harry, we’ve been wondering, when you were just a kid,
did you do all the games and pastimes other nippers did?
Or were your days spent reading Ikea catalogues,
instead of guns and football and walking with the dogs?
It’s just that we have noticed (and this isn’t disapproval),
that you seem to have a penchant for furniture removal.

Picture Harry with an analyst, you know the archetype,
goatee, bow tie and accent that you could cut with a knife.
Says Freud, ‘Lie on zis sofa, you’re obsessed und I can prove it.’
Harry says, My God, a sofa! I know just the place to move it!’

Madame is shrill and shrewish, she yells and screams and bickers,
but she is just a parvenu, all fur coat and no knickers.
The sisters weird, their mother mad, their schemes all dark and miry,
in fact, just like the Murdochs at the Leveson Enquiry.

Ah, poor Monsieur, we felt for you, your girl abused and spurned.
Oh how we cheered and clapped our hands when your inner worm it turned!
You showed Madame who’s master, but we fervently hope and pray,
you never buy her a copy of  ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’!

While cougars prowled the catwalk in search of princely bounty,
the younger ones were definitely of the set called ‘county’.
In their gorgeous ball gowns, they looked divine and lush.
More swaying derrieres were there than Pippa’s famous tush!
The panoply of human life, the highnesses and lownesses  –
there was more money at that ball than bankers’ annual bonuses!

Though suicide attempts were made, there were no casualties,
for in the fairy hospital were fairy remedies.
In fact, the Fairy Godmother was pulling all the strings.
Her silver call rang out and all the fairies flapped their wings.
Her powers are legendary – all must hear and obey.
She got a hotline call from Dave and Nick the other day.
‘G4S is yours’ they cried, ‘and, if you want to stay,
we’ll put you in the Cabinet instead of Theresa May!’

The brides thought they were shoe-ins, but hefty feet and shins,
meant that they could not fit into those dainty Louboutins.
Don’t worry, thwarted sisters, your futures don’t look dark –
just go down to Mahiki’s and nab an oligarch.

Oh, Prince and Cinderella, you tugged at our heartstrings.
We sobbed and cried with tears of joy when you exchanged your rings.
But even now the Godmother, though you are all loved up,
is at the elfin lawyer’s, looking through the prenup.

Our revels now are ended but we hope we may, we might,
next year – if funding will allow – continue this delight.
We all desire to sing again and to enjoy the sight,
of a little bit of Harry and Nick Jenkins in the night!

Written by Elizabeth Goldman © July 2012
and dedicated, with love and thanks,
on behalf of Blackheath Halls Community Opera Chorus to:
Harry Fehr & Nick Jenkins

Blackheath Cendrillon: Prince Charming’s Dilema


L.C. Spinetti here again, I got in a bit of trouble with that recording earlier, Harriet says she’s going to sue me, but only when she needs the publicity. However the head honchos at REALly?! really liked it, and I got a pay rise and a commission to take pictures of all the eligible Gels About Town, which has proved very useful, as the second most eligible bachelor is officially on the market, so most of the Gels in question are really keen to have their portraits on line.

Prince Charming refuses to go to the Ball copyright Cherry Potts 2012

but the questions is

Which will he choose?

Prince Charming trying to choose a wife copyright Cherry Potts 2012

here are a few of the lovely ladies making the running.

Of course, after the ball last night it was pretty obvious that none of these well-heeled, well-bred ladies no matter how good a self-publicist she is, no matter how far she is prepared to demean herself or her fellow princesses in wanton displays of vapid self-interest, they had not a hope amongst them.  The Prince has set his heart on an impossible dream, he wants to marry a woman with character (I told you so) and tiny feet (Ok, I didn’t think of that one.)

So all they can hope for now is to turn up at the Abbey tomorrow, and see whether the mysterious and impractical glass slipper fits them.

but I got a picture of the mystery heart breaker, and I bet I can find her faster than any herald with a slipper on a cushion and accompanying trumpeters. Ha!

Mystery woman makes her appearance at the ball copyright Cherry Potts 2012

Sadly, none of the people or situations in this blog are real, they are in fact the product of the imagination of  Charles Perrault, by way of Jules Massenet, Jeremy Sams, Harry Fehr and Cherry Potts, with a bit of help from other members of the Blackheath Opera Chorus.  Massenet’s Cinderella final performance is on Sunday at Blackheath Halls, but is sold out. Sorry!

© Cherry Potts 2012

Blackheath Cendrillon: At Home with the Haltieres


The Haltieres arrive at the cocktail party copyright Cherry Potts 2012

OMG! Have I got a Scoopydoop of a Scoop!  Madame de la Haltiere is going to be sued! Sorry forgot to say, L.C. Spinetti here.  Have a listen to this sound file, where Harriet Lime, director of Season 5 of At Home with the Haltieres reveals what it is really like behind the scenes at the hit reality show from REALly?! TV.

harriet lime phone call

Sadly none of the people or incidents in this blog are real,  Today’s blog features Harriet Lime, a character created by Alix Adams, based on the original character created by Harry Fehr for the Blackheath Community Opera Cinderella. Tickets are still available for Tuesday and Wednesday, but Sunday has sold out.

© Cherry Potts 2012

Blackheath Cendrillon: Prince Charming … alarming


L.C.Spinetti here again, Cherry’s too busy with Arachne Press to cover the unfolding drama at court, so REALly!? have given me a short commission to keep up with action in the small kingdom of BlackHeath.  Quite a change from covering Crufts.

So you’ll never guess who I met on the heath this morning. The Royal Poodles! All four of them, being walked by a couple of footman and the Prince’s ex nanny.

One of the poodles – Horatio – bounded up to me and almost knocked me over, and she came over to apologise.  Of course she’s used to being recognised especially if she’s out with the dogs, so she wasn’t terribly impressed when I said hello, but actually, I do know her – she’s a friend of Mother’s.  So after I reminder her who I was we had a bit of a chat, mostly about Signor Spinetti, who is off covering the Grand Prix, however I couldn’t help noticing she was looking rather strained.  So I asked, is one of the dogs ill?

Oh no, she said, no, they’re all fine, it’s the prince.  He’s been moping for days, and now he says he wont go to the ball.

Now, even I know a scoop when it’s dropped in my lap, so I persuade her that she needs a cup of coffee, from the stall by the pond, and sit her down on a bench. The poodles scamper in and out of the water and the footmen sneak off for a quick fag and a pint in the PoW, and nanny unburdens her anxieties onto my willing ears.

Nanny: The atmosphere at the palace is dreadful, Charming moping, his father stamping about in a temper – and normally I’d rely on Henry Fortescue-Smythe, to sort it out, you know what a fixer he is, but there’s been that incident – well, in his absence his uncle, (ginger-beer-peer, Lord H F-S) can generally get one of them to come round, but he got stomped on by a horse in the winner’s enclosure at Ascot, and has a broken foot, so he’s not really up to shuttle diplomacy from one wing of the palace to the other.
The Prime Minister has tried, but he has about as much tact as a rhino on heat – no, it’s very stressful.

LCS: What’s caused all this? I mean it’s not like the prince to sulk, he’s always been such a sweet boy.

Nanny: Well, just so – that’s how he got his nick name, it was me who coined it, as it were – I remember when he was just a little boy – well, never mind that – he grown now and he needs a wife.

LCS: You don’t think…

Nanny: Good heavens, no!

LCS: Well, it’s just that…

Nanny: No Elsie, put that thought from your mind.

LCS: It’s L.C. actually. Anyway, if he’s sulking about being asked to marry – it’s not like there aren’t plenty of pretty girls he can choose from.

Snooty princesses copyright Cherry Potts 2012

Nanny: Handsome is as Handsome does, Elsie dear. Most of them are scheming gold-diggers only interested in his money and position.  It’s not easy for a prince to meet the right girl; although there was a very sweet girl at the party rehearsal – he seemed quite taken with her at the time.  I had a long chat with the Mother, somebody de la Villette – daughter of a rent collector, can you imagine! She has great hopes for her Hortense, but – a little – provincial – I don’t think the King would wear it – it would take forever to get her polished up.  No, sadly, I don’t think Hortense is the girl for my Prince Charming, though she’d be a better bet than either of those toxic Haltiere girls.

LCS: Oh! Do you know them?

Nanny: Know them? I was at school with their mother, and a right madam she was too, bullied everyone.  Even the headmistress was frightened of her.  She thinks her girls are good enough for my Charming. He wouldn’t give either of them a second glance – except of horror possibly.   Not their fault of course, it’s just… Madame.  ghastly woman.

Hortense de la Villette overwhelmed by her encounter with the Prince copyright Cherry Potts 2012

LCS: So what do you think the Prince looks for in a  potential wife?

Nanny: All the traditional princessly virtues of course. Beauty, charm, grace, kindness, a lovely voice, her own money, good breeding…

LCS: Intelligence? Courage? Humour?

Nanny: Let’s be realistic Elsie, we are talking about Princesses.  He’d be lucky to find one with any of those qualities.

Lucky indeed. We’d finished our coffee at this point so I couldn’t drag it out any longer. Well, the party starts at seven on Tuesday, so we shall see: will the prince make do with a vacuous god-digger or will he find the princess of his dreams?

© Cherry Potts 2012

Sadly this blog is a work of fiction and noneof the characters depicted in it should be taken to represent any real person or company living or dead.  They spring from the fertile imaginations of Mssrs Perrault and Massenet as channelled by Harry Fehr with  a bit of help from Cherry Potts and other members of the cast of Cinderella;

this year’s community opera at Blackheath Halls. Today’s installment features Mme de la Villette, a character created by Laura Sparkes.