Patricia Routledge trained not only as an actress but also as a singer and had considerable experience and success in musical theatre, both in this country and in the United States of America. Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway performance in the Styne-Harburg musical Darling of the Day and a Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Her one woman show Come for the Ride toured the UK in 1988 and in 1992 she played Nettie Fowler in the highly acclaimed production of Carousel at the National Theatre. In 1998 she was honoured with the Gold Badge of Merit by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
In this fascinating encounter, she recalls this very special part of her career with access to some rare and treasured recordings. Upcoming dates for my show chronicling one of the best kept secrets in the business – Patricia Routledge’s extensive career in musical theatre – including Saturday 24 September 2016 at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff. Here’s a review of a date for the show earlier this year.
Facing the Music: A Life in Musical Theatre with Patricia Routledge
Patricia Routledge in conversation with Edward Seckerson
Date: Saturday 9th April 2016
Venue: Customs House (South Shields)
When checking what’s coming at the Customs House a month or so ago I noticed that they had Patricia Routledge as an event in conversation with Edward Seckerson. No way I thought Mrs Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances coming to South Shields?! That was certainly something I was very interested in, even more when it was all going to be based around her background in musical theatre. A background that is in fact not massively well known. Although I will admit that I did do a little bit of research before the evening and saw that she was a Tony and Olivier Award winner.
The information about the evening claims it is one of the best kept secrets in show business and I certainly think that makes it even more fascinating. I must first start off by saying that it did not disappoint and it was a truly fantastic night at the theatre listening to stories and hearing singing clips from the brilliant actress/performer and woman.
A table with flowers, two glasses of water and chairs were set up already for the show. The applause was fantastic as she appeared on stage after listening to a song and a short introduction from Edward Seckerson. The theatre was packed out in the main stalls, I was sitting higher up on the side.
We were taken down memory lane all the way from her childhood which she attributed to how she ended up in Musical Theatre. With plenty of singing at home in Birkenhead just over the river from Liverpool. Not that you would ever guess that she should have a Scouse accent due to how well spoken she has always been. Elocution lessons were once seen as very important and that always contributed to Patricia ending up on the stage. She was very humble about her up bringing and that she never really expected anything to come from singing and acting.
She also had a little dig at the schools now claiming to be academies and that should go back to being Council schools. Interesting to hear her thoughts and views on some recent events when it comes to schooling. A lot of which makes a lot of sense in all honesty considering how bad some of them have become. But also sad that the Arts seem to be forgotten about now, not as much singing and learning of heritage.
We learn about how she worked her way up in Theatre from being Assistant Stage Manager and then getting into productions one step at a time. I really do think this talk would have been brilliant for anyone trying to get into the Theatre business and realising that you have to work hard and work your way up and get to know people along the way.
It was such an engaging evening as we were told all about the different shows she had appeared in, as well as listening to different songs from them and truly hearing the range of her very powerful voice which very nearly went into Opera with experience in that area. Truly inspiring to know how hard she worked to get into Theatre and continuing singing lessons, as well as studying English at University all of which would lead to performing on stage.
The musical clips were put together very well even though at one point she did have to tell them it was too loud and to turn it down for the next song! Which had the whole audience laughing out loud. She is a naturally funny person as even little things were amusing especially in exchanges with Edward. Who seemed to be having the time of his life showing such passion not only for Musical Theatre but for Patricia Routledge’s career. Something which made the evening even more enjoyable. It started at 7:45pm and did not finish until just before 10:40pm with about a 20 minute interval, making it incredible value for money. I am pretty sure everyone would have been very happy to sit and listen to them both talking all night.
Was lovely to find out her favourite musicals among them being My Fair Lady, Oliver and Fiddler on the Roof. Although it did not seem as though she was a big fan of more recent shows. Was mortified that some leading stars have alternates who would do some shows for them so they didn’t have to do eight shows per week!
It really was fantastic to learn more about the actress as well as an in-depth look into the world of Musical Theatre in both the West End and Broadway. She was very emotional when talking about her Broadway debut and getting ready for the curtain call, the role for which she won her Tony Award as well.
Thank you Edward Seckerson for wanting to do a brilliant show like this, giving so much knowledge and insight from start to finish. It really was well worth heading to the Theatre to listen to such great stories.