Legend Roy backs music hall play heading for Lytham

Steve Royle (right), who will play Dan Leno at Lytham Hall in August, with comedy legend Roy Hudd
Steve Royle (right), who will play Dan Leno at Lytham Hall in August, with comedy legend Roy Hudd
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Legendary comedian and entertainer Roy Hudd is backing an open-air production close to his heart which as it prepares to take to the stage at Lytham Hall.

Dan Leno, a Royal Jester, the poignant story of the life and death of Victorian music hall superstar written and produced by Blackpool’s David Slattery-Christy, features comedian Steve Royle in the title role in the Hall's grounds on Saturday, August 24.

Roy, 83, watched Steve in the role at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre at Eastbourne in June and, with a vested interest in stage history as president of the British Music Hall Society, was impressed by the play and the performance. .

He writes in the programme for the forthcoming production at the Hall: “This is a play that captures the heart and soul and genius of our greatest Victorian comedian - his triumphs, his sorrows, his unfulfilled dreams and his fulfilled disasters.

“It is beautifully cast and played, very moving and, best of all, it is very funny.

"Steve Royle as Leno is a revelation - a master comic playing a master comic”.

Roy made his name with comedy shows such the long-running The News Huddlines on BBC radio and has made acclaimed stage appearances as Fagin in Oliver Twist and comedian Bud Flanagan.

He had a successful spell as undertaker Archie Shuttleworth in Coronation Street and was awarded an OBE for services to the entertainment industry in 2004. He was recently seen as a patient in an episode of BBC TV medical drama Casualty.

At Eastbourne, one of six venues on a nationwide summer tour of the play, Roy met up backstage with Steve and his company, which includes Andy Cooke, a familiar face on stage on Lytham regular performer with local amdram group The Fylde Coast Players.

The Leno play will be the fourth of five open air performances in the Hall grounds this summer.

Season organiser Julian Wilde has been delighted with the audience figures so far, including a full house for The Tempest by the Illyria company earlier this month.

Illyria are back with Frankenstein on Saturday, August 17, while the Leno play will be the first hakf of a weekend double header ahead of the August bank holiday, with Illyria presenting Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves on Sunday, August 25.

Tickets are available online from www.ticketsource.co.uk, www.illyria.co.uk, www.lowtherpavilion.co.uk and in person from six loxcal outlets. Details at www.lythamhall.org.uk or from (01253) 736652.