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‘Natural talent’ – How The Stage reviewed Joe Longthorne 42 years ago

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November 16, 1978: In 1978, our then editor Peter Hepple wrote a review celebrating the emerging talent of entertainer Joe Longthorne, who died in August last year, aged 64. Now, as a tribute, Blackpool North Pier’s manager has said that the pier’s theatre will be renamed after him. Forty-two years ago, we reported on Longthorne’s performance at Quaglino’s in London:

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“If there is anything certain in this world, it is a continuing supply of impressionists. But only the best go to greater things and one young man who looks like a sure survivor is 22-year-old Joe Longthorne, from Hull.

“What makes him a likely winner? Well, natural talent for one thing, in the form of an excellent singing voice, highly saleable on its own merits. Another is his bounce and confidence, almost remarkable in one so young, faced with a typical late-night audience at Quaglino’s, a mixed-nationality crowd who have come to eat and perhaps dance rather than watch cabaret.

“A third feature is that he has obviously prepared his act with some care, for he mixes the unsubtle, including the use of wigs and dresses, with the fairly sophisticated. Wigs and dresses? This is where his originality comes in, for he impersonates female singers as well as men. An outstandingly good Dorothy Squires, a not quite so accurate but still highly effective Shirley Bassey and Cleo Laine.”

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive

Blackpool North Pier Theatre to be renamed after entertainer Joe Longthorne

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