Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Remembering Luke Perry’s West End heroics (your views, March 14)

Luke Perry. Photo: Shutterstock
by -

There has been a huge outpouring of emotion following the death of actor Luke Perry. In 2004, he starred in a stage adaptation of When Harry Met Sally, which I directed at Theatre Royal Haymarket in the West End.

Luke had shot to fame playing bad boy Dylan McKay in the 1990s television series Beverly Hills 90210. But, despite being considered by many as the heart-throb of his generation, there was little sense that he was a big TV star when he walked into the rehearsal room, and no big ego.

A quietly spoken, gentle, kind, charming, self-effacing and enormously warm-hearted man joined us in the sunny rehearsal room at the top of Her Majesty’s Theatre. He was caring, considerate, hard-working and eager to serve the play and in a short space of time grew to be much loved by cast and creatives alike. And at the end of every show he would stay and talk to every fan at the stage door, even if he was there an hour.

As many fans will be aware, Luke was a skilled and daring free-runner, who could climb up the front of a building unaided in a matter of seconds. On May 17, 2004, one of the magnificent chandeliers in the Haymarket broke from the ceiling in the last scene of the play and plummeted towards the audience. Although it was caught by a safety rope, large pieces of plaster crashed into the audience. Luke leapt from the stage over the orchestra pit and into the audience to help evacuate people. Miraculously, no one was badly hurt, largely thanks to his quick thinking. He continued to look after audience members in the street outside the theatre as the paramedics tended to injuries, getting people drinks, tending wounds and sharing stories.

Luke was a gentleman and a shining example of how to stay decent and unaffected in a testing industry, despite considerable fame. Perhaps, following his example, we can all learn to respect and look after each other a little more.

Loveday Ingram
Director, When Harry Met Sally, Theatre Royal Haymarket, 2004

How to prevent acoustic shock

Royal Opera House legal case: the shocking story that could change orchestra pits forever

As an orchestra violinist, I would say that the best way to protect players’ hearing is for brass instruments to be made quieter.

In the past 100 years, brass instruments have become much louder than when either most operatic music was written or the theatre pits were built.

Sheila Taylor
Via the stage.co.uk

Awards should be politics-free

Why are so many awards nights ruined by people making political statements during their acceptance speeches?

When I was young, the Oscars and BAFTAs were joyful occasions that were treated with respect by winners and losers alike. But over the years it seems that more and more people are using the winners’ podium to score points by espousing their personal political beliefs.

This year’s BAFTAs were not too bad, although one well-known actor (presenting an award) took it upon himself to use the occasion to have a dig at Brexit. I hope the actor in question will not be invited to present an award again.

But this year’s Oscars were probably the worst I can remember for people making political speeches and social statements. Please can we just go back to awards nights being what they used to be – joyful and respectful occasions that honour the artistic accomplishments of the most talented people in our profession?

Mike Laughton
Oakham, Rutland

Not every show’s a singalong

Six announces sing-along performance at London’s Arts Theatre

I don’t pay a silly amount of money to have to listen to random audience members singing along.

I’ve also not paid to go to a bar, so I don’t want to sit next to someone precariously balancing a glass of red wine in one hand and popcorn in the other.

Sophie Pearl Edward
Via Facebook

Good behaviour and snobbery

Hayley Tamaddon: WTF? It’s never acceptable for audiences to verbally abuse the performers

Bad behaviour and snootiness are both problems for theatre. It’s possible to encourage good behaviour without being snooty, and there is no doubt that some complaints about young and new theatregoers are just thinly veiled snobbery.

Shouting abuse at an actor is never acceptable, and should not be confused with the energy Kit Harington has said he enjoys in the audience when school trips came to a matinee. Differentiating the mildly annoying from the unacceptable is the difference between having standards and being a snob.

I’ve mistakenly had a sinking feeling when seated next to a school trip for a matinee – but most of the time they are just as well behaved as everyone else. In my experience, it’s the older, well dressed theatregoers who don’t realise just how loudly they are rustling their sweets.

It’s right that we aspire to good behaviour from theatregoers, but we can’t use that as an excuse to assert our prejudices. Sadly, many use the former as an excuse for the latter, and in this case both Tamaddon and Harington are right. We need to minimise both.

Johanna Robertson
Via thestage.co.uk

Quotes of the week

Ian McKellen. Photo: Oliver Rosser/Feast Creative

“When it comes to abuse by people in positions of power, the correct response is clear. The accusers must be heard and the accused given the opportunity to clear their names. If the accusations prove credible, the abuser’s access to power should be removed.” – Actor Ian McKellen (Twitter)

“Some theatres still put £15 tickets as their ‘omg we have cheap tickets’ but what young person is able to pay £15 for a show?! Decisions in our industry are made by very small-minded people who always think: ‘If I can afford it then surely everyone else can too.’ ” – Director Steven Kavuma (Twitter)

“WHY ISN’T MY MUM PICKING UP HER PHONE FFS MUM THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN UR ZUMBA CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – Lucy Moss, writer of West End musical Six, after receiving an Olivier nomination (Twitter)

“Hamilton created a resurgence in interest and the cool factor of musical theatre. All these people came out of the closet like: ‘I’ve been doing jazz hands in here all my life.’ ” – Sara Bareilles (speaking on
the podcast Table Manners With Jessie Ware)

“In one of the first proper meetings, I said: ‘If ever you’re thinking it’s going to look like the opening of the Olympics, with t**** wafting about with scarves and shit, I’m done. If it’s any of that, I’m gone.’” – Richard Hawley on his debut musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge (Sunday Times)

“In this world, part of your currency is your looks and your youth, so these things become important to women. The celebrity world is very much run by men. Success depends on the audience but also on what these men think the audience values.” – Actor Monica Dolan (Guardian)

Email your views to alistair@thestage.co.uk Please mark your email as ‘for publication’. The Stage reserves the right to edit letters for publication.

Twitter: @TheStage
Facebook: facebook.com/thestage

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.