In the centenary year of Marie Lloyd’s death, J.J. Leppink’s Marie Lloyd Stole My Life, beginning a regional tour on 18 September at Colchester’s Headgate Theatre, tells the story of how the ‘Queen of the Music Hall’ came to fame at another’s expense. Interested in Ripper Street meets EastEnders? Then this show could be just what you are looking for…
Merry Nelly Power was a real life, trailblazing performer of the 19th century, a male impersonator who struck an early blow for women’s rights by owning her own properties and headlining at all the major theatres. Blue Fire Theatre Company’s one-woman show Marie Lloyd Stole My Life, starring Lottie Walker, looks into how Nelly’s fame – and her most famous song – were usurped by the young Marie Lloyd.
Adultery, betrayal, age discrimination, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, press intrusion, scandal, robbery… and a rescue at sea. Not exactly the Good Old Days.
Marie Lloyd Stole My Life reveals the unglamorous side of showbusiness in Victorian London through the subversive lens of music hall.
What the critics said:
- ‘A beautifully written show’ – Lou Reviews Blog
- ‘Beautifully crafted… and superbly acted’ – Mark Aspen Reviews
- ‘Intricate, delicate dialogue, delivered to perfection’ – Mumble Theatre Press
Lottie Walker discovered the story behind the show when she was training as a tour guide for Clerkenwell and Islington in London and one of her projects was to do a 10-minute presentation on any subject as long as it was in the area.
She explained in an online interview with Mumble Theatre: “I chose to speak about Marie Lloyd and even got the class and tutors singing along at the end!
“One of the stories I discovered in my research was that the song ‘The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery’ was originally performed by Nelly Power (who I’d never heard of) and stolen by a 15-year-old Ms Lloyd who made her name with it and was a superstar within the year.
“I wanted to find out more about Nelly – and the rest is history. The support of friends and the British Music Hall Society made the whole process quite special.”
Walker turned to J.J. Leppink to pen the show, a young, emerging feminist writer who seemed like a really good match for a piece about a trailblazing, independent woman. She adds: “I also wanted to make the play relevant for a younger audience. Music hall has a bad image of being cosy Sunday night TV. Its reality was gritty and subversive. It’s not really the “good old days” when you look at the reality.”
Lottie’s first job was as a soprano soloist in an ‘Olde Tyme Music Hall’ in Blackpool and she has been touring in music hall and cabaret ever since. Her theatre credits include roles in Godspell, Nunsense, A Christmas Carol, Red Peppers, The Dresser and a number of different pantomimes.
Musical director and pianist James Hall’s recent credits include Marie Lloyd Stole My Life (Edinburgh Fringe and tour), Gilbert & Sullivan’s Nightmare (Edinburgh Fringe), Fab’lett 1933 (Edinburgh Fringe), Newsrevue: My Time To Lie (Canal Cafe Theatre) and Showstoppers (Epsom Playhouse).
The focus of Blue Fire Theatre Company is on performing plays (both new and established) about “our theatrical heritage” and introducing younger generations to the theatre of the past by making the characters accessible.
After The Headgate Theatre, Colchester (3pm, 18 September 2022), Marie Lloyd Stole My Life visits The Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon (7.30pm, 25 September), The Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich (7.30pm, 29 September) and The Coach House Theatre, Malvern (2.30pm and 7.30pm, 15 October).