Luck Be a Lady is a one-woman extravaganza that explores the stratospheric successes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra from the perspective of the powerful women who made it happen. It’s coming to north London’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse for a strictly limited run this October. We caught up with creator/performer Beth Burrows about her journey creating a sequel to Sirens of the Silver Screen.
Beth Burrows is an Offie-nominated actor, singer and writer. Her solo shows Sirens of the Silver Screen and Luck Be a Lady have enjoyed critically-acclaimed London runs and toured around the world. Beth has also starred in numerous plays/musicals in London and appeared in short films and commercials. Beth trained at the prestigious Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the University of Bristol and National Youth Music Theatre.
Welcome back, Beth! Tell us all about your sequel to Sirens of the Silver Screen…
Thanks, it’s so great to be back! Essentially, Luck Be a Lady is the men’s lives, through the women’s eyes. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra dominated the stage and screen in the mid 20th century. But beside and behind these golden gentlemen were a plethora of powerful, patient women who enabled their success. The show brings the women out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
How does Luck Be a Lady differ from Sirens?
The format is basically the same: story, song and cinema (interesting clips from archive and home footage). Obviously, the big difference here is that my subjects are male rather than female, which spices things up a bit! It’s interesting in terms of playing with genders, depending on who I am dropping into and when. There’s a delicate dance between the masculine and feminine energies. I enjoy that tension.
The tagline to the play reads ‘behind every successful man is a strong woman’. How has the female experience informed the creation and performance of this show about men?
It’s really at the heart of the show. When I sat down to write this piece, I never set out to make it about women, but the research kind of demanded it. There’s an old expression ‘the man is the head, but the woman is the neck who turns it’ (pretty sure that’s from My Big Fat Greek Wedding?!). That’s what I kept finding in my reading. Time after time, there was a woman enabling Fred, Gene or Frank’s success, but they were always in the shadows or cut out of frame. Quite literally in some cases. I just felt I needed to redress the balance.
You previewed this show in June at the White Bear Theatre. How did that go?
Really well, thanks! I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but audiences and critics all had great feedback. They seemed to get that it wasn’t an attack on the men, but a celebration of what they achieved with the help of their mothers/sisters/wives/co-stars. And everyone was entertained, which is what it’s all about really!
Luck Be A Lady is of course one of Sinatra’s signature songs. Why did you settle on this as the title?
I actually only struck on the title at the end of the final draft. I was toying with The Golden Gentlemen (to match Sirens of the Silver Screen), but after writing the show the men didn’t seem quite so shiny! Also, the focus is also female as much as male. Luck Be a Lady just seemed the perfect fit.
Which song in the show do you most enjoy singing?
I really love Almost Like Being in Love (from Brigadoon). It’s one of Gene Kelly’s and it’s just got this gorgeous big MGM feel to it – something really joyous and nostalgic about it. At the other end of the spectrum, I adore singing In The Wee Small Hours in the Frank Sinatra section. The melody and lyrics are just devastating.
Do you have any future plans for the show?
Now that I’ve got Sirens of the Silver Screen and Luck Be a Lady I’d love to work them back-to-back. Either in town or doing a Golden Hollywood tour performing Sirens one night and Luck Be a Lady the next. They appeal to the same demographic so I think it could work… as long as I don’t accidentally switch scripts mid-show!
Also, Sirens was featured on Stream.Theatre earlier this year, so I’d love to do the same with Luck Be a Lady.
Luck Be A Lady runs from 15 to 17 October 2021 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD, with Friday and Saturday evening at 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4pm. Tickets priced £20 (concessions £18). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!