An artist’s depiction of a British music hall performance at Canterbury Hall, circa 1856.
Travel back 150 years to another continent when the Osprey hosts “The British Music Hall” variety show on Saturday, Jan. 18, starting at 8 p.m.
Be part of what the Osprey is encouraging to be a raucous crowd. In the tradition of the British music hall, audiences regularly booed and cheered acts any time and to any degree they wished. They could even force acts to leave or other acts to repeat their performances.
Never a quiet place, the British music hall saw servers coming and going with liquid encouragement. The Osprey’s version will replicate that experience.
Performances for the evening will be by The Pitband, the Madrigal Singers, members of Basement Theatre, Merrie Howe, Judy Day, Amanda Pedro, Bill Smith, Nigel D’Eon, Alex Buchanan and Pat Melanson. Basement Theatre regular Alison Stanton will be the unpredictable drinks server for the evening.
The authentic emcee for the evening is the one and only Jan Pulfrey, who has a few tricks up her sleeve to keep the crowd an active part of the event.
The British Music Hall was a staple of the British Empire, taking place in the great English cities, London in particular. They evolved with the wants and needs of the Industrial Revolution workers and became a rallying point for patriotic fervour during wartime.
Starting around 1860, they became a staple of the theatre world until at least 1950, an incredible century-long run. Their format of a mixed variety of acts became the standard for early film and radio, and finally for television.
Many of the top acts of the early 20th century started under the “limelight” of the Music Hall. And some of the great personalities of that period will be brought to life on the Osprey stage: George Formby, Vesta Victoria, Harry Tate, Florrie Forde, Harry Lauder, even Charlie Chaplin.
“The British Music Hall” is produced and directed by Pat Melanson in cooperation with the Osprey. Admission is $20 for adults and $7 for students. This event is a “Keep the Heat On” fundraiser for the Osprey Arts Centre, so come out and show your support.