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Letters of the week

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Applying the postcode factor

Susan Elkin’s piece on charging for drama school auditions (Insight, January 17, page 6) is rightly about value for money from the applicants’ perspective. Some of the examples, such as charging £60 for 100 seconds, were indefensible – possibly why they were chosen.

Musical Theatre Academy’s transparency (explaining what you are paying for) is admirable, but, like any casting, admission to a school can depend just as much on who else is auditioning, gender balance and, if a school has significant international applicants, getting this balance, among others, right too.

It is certainly true that these costs can deter applicants from poorer homes, but then, as part of a widening participation initiative, you can, as we have, using postcodes (we know, a blunt instrument) scrap both audition fees and travel expenses for them.

Mark Featherstone-Witty
Founding principal/CEO
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Mount Street


Woman in White, not so white

I refer to an article in The Stage, ‘Former Lincoln Theatre Royal boss failed to pay performers’ (News, October 11, 2012, page 2). It went on to say that all creditors will be paid.

Monies were also owed to suppliers like ourselves under Ian Dickens Productions (International) Ltd, and all attempts to retrieve payments due from the production of The Woman in White in 2011 have been fruitless.

I now see that Ian Dickens is preparing to put on another production of The Woman in White. It does somehow rub salt into the wounds – suppliers beware.

Stephen Outhwaite
Email address supplied


Success didn’t end with puppets

I have read several obituaries of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson since he died the other week. While many tributes wrongly stated that the inventor of Captain Scarlet et al never achieved his long-held ambition to work with live performers, I was disappointed by the obituary in The Stage (January 10, page 45), which, although mentioning Anderson’s work in this area, still sought to play down any success he had working with real actors.

The movie Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was certainly not the blazing success Anderson and his co-creator and wife Sylvia might have hoped for, but they had cut their teeth on live action and went on to create UFO in 1970, starring Ed Bishop and George Sewell. This TV series was popular enough to be commissioned for a second season, as was The Protectors, which followed it and starred Robert Vaughn and Nyree Dawn Porter.

By the time Space 1999 hit screens in 1975, Anderson’s ability was trusted enough for him to be given the biggest budget of any British TV series up to that point. This programme, which was notable for the way it mixed science fiction and metaphysical themes, starred Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Barry Morse, and gave work to a plethora of guest stars and supporting actors over two seasons.

There were other series, too. In fact, following his earlier success with puppets, there is quite a lot to be said about Anderson’s subsequent achievements using live actors. It would be good to see the industry’s own newspaper acknowledging those successes.

Patrick Lambe
Chevening Road
London SE19


Share my father’s royal secret

My theatrical father Walter Thomas Dunlo Allen recently passed away in his 100th year and used to write to your letters pages.

During the latter part of his life and throughout his 90s, he still kept active by attending many showbiz events with the stars.

He looked forward to his copy of The Stage newspaper each week and also enjoyed your online archives, where he would read many of his old reviews from the 1920s onwards.

His family ran the Stratford Theatre Royal in East London in the 1930s and 1940s, and before the Joan Littlewood era.

My father appeared at every theatre in the UK and left a royal secret to do with the theatrical world. Go to ‘The Royal Secret – of Walter Thomas Dunlo Allen’ to find out what it is.

It concerns the king and one of the leading actresses of the day. He had so many royal secrets to tell on his colourful career in the world of the theatre.

Allen David
International Entertainments
Felpham Way
Bognor Regis


Congratulations are in order

I’d heard that, a few years ago, the talented veteran all-rounder Roy Hudd had moved from the outskirts of London to ‘somewhere up north’.

But it was a complete shock to discover from Nick Smurthwaite’s review of BBC Radio 2’s ‘Ken Dodd – How Tickled I’ve Been’ (The Stage, January 17, page 31) that: “Liza Tarbuck paid tribute to the comic with the help of Roy Hudd, the bishop of Liverpool.”

I saw Roy in Worthing recently at the unveiling of a plaque to the late Gladys Morgan – and he wasn’t wearing a collar of any sort. The man’s too modest.

Belated congratulations, Mr Hudd, on your new career – but please ‘keep telling the funnies’ you have always done so well.

Trevor Harvey
email address supplied

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