West End performers rally for special event in aid of actor with brain cancer
An actor who was diagnosed with brain cancer is to perform on stage one last time at a special event supported by West End stars.
Gordon Bishop, who has performed as an amateur and professionally for 50 years, was diagnosed with the tumour earlier this year and given just months to live.
The avid theatre fan, who is aged 82, told his daughter Grace Hardy that he “just wished he could perform his Max Miller one more time”, referring to a tribute act he used to perform as part of a music hall troupe.
Determined to grant this wish, Hardy, who is also an actor under the professional name Grace Bishop, called on theatre contacts, friends and family to organise a special evening which will take place on February 18 at the Court Theatre in Tring, where her father will perform his act.
West End stars including Louis Maskell, who plays the lead in musical The Grinning Man, and Lisa Anne Wood, who has played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, will perform as part of the evening.
Other performers who will feature include Bishop’s son Joseph Peters, who has performed in Jersey Boys, as well as Kinky Boots’ James Ballanger and Jo Parsons from Les Miserables.
Hardy said: “An amazing variety of people have come forward – professionals, amateurs, singers, dancers, musicians, techies, not to mention graphic designers, baby sitters and caterers, just keen to help in any way they can and show my dad what he means to them.
“The whole thing is exciting, overwhelming and bringing joy to a man who could be in despair. Frankly, it’s keeping us going”.
After some people asked to donate money towards the event, Hardy set up a Just Giving crowdfunding page, which has so far raised more than £1,000.
The event will include pieces from Bishop’s repertoire, from Shakespeare to musical numbers, performed by the West End actors. Bishop will also perform his tribute act and, in a duet with his daughter, sing Together at Last from Annie.
Bishop said: “I feel like its karma because he has done anything for anyone, he bends over backwards for other people and to see that come back to him is really special.
“It has been beautiful to see and emotional; I can’t overstate how much it has helped us keep going, this idea that you can have something so bad happen and then turn it around into an adventure and a way to feel happy.”