Originally scheduled to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Leeds City Varieties presents a tribute to the legendary stars who kept us smiling through the dark days of World War II.
Spirit of the Blitz recaptures the defiant optimism of war-torn Britain, and having been postponed due to the pandemic in 2020, will now play on Sunday 1 May 2022. As producer Andy Eastwood points out : “It really would not be in the spirit of this show to give up! So we’ll now be celebrating the 77th anniversary.”
It may not have the same ring to it as the 75th, but the songs will still sound every bit as good, and the atmosphere will be terrific as soon as the audience join in with old favourites like Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, Bless ‘Em All, Leaning On A Lamp-Post, and of course, We’ll Meet Again. Eastwood, who also appears in the show, portraying one of the hardest-working entertainers of the era, George Formby, describes the show as a feel-good experience:
“The wonderful thing about Spirit Of The Blitz is that it means many things to different people. It’s first and foremost a heart-warming, uplifting singalong. They were such awful times that the entertainment had to be bright and breezy and cheerful. But beneath the humour is a subtext of suffering, loss and tragedy. Everyone in that audience will be remembering loved ones who went through it, so it’s very thought-provoking too.”
Also performing are singer Maggie O’Hara, who pays tribute to Dame Vera Lynn and Anne Shelton, and multi-talented Pete Lindup, who recreates the comedy of forties favourites Max Miller and Robb Wilton. Pete is looking forward to the show immensely:
“There will be veterans at the show, and it’s an honour to entertain them, but it’s also great for younger people to see the lovely warm way that performers charmed an audience back then. Glorious melodies and good old-fashioned comedy – what more could you ask for?”
Andy Eastwood is very familiar with the songs of the war years, having played George Formby in over a thousand performances of the touring show We’ll Meet Again. He was the only musician ever to gain his Oxford degree playing the ukulele, and is one of the world’s foremost exponents of the instrument. He is also a violin virtuoso, as you will see in the show’s tear-jerking finale!
Maggie O’Hara delights with her superb vocal talents, in tributes to the legendary “forces’ sweetheart” Dame Vera Lynn, cheery Lancashire lass Gracie Fields and sultry songstress Anne Shelton. With such versatility it’s no wonder that this lady has forged an award-winning international career in theatre and cabaret.
Pete Lindup, armed with trumpet, trombone, a jazzy suit and a wealth of wit, has worked alongside many of the great names of the variety stage. He will recall the great comedians Max Miller and Robb Wilton amongst others, and is an expert entertainer in true vaudeville style.
A variety show would be incomplete without live music, so the Phil Jeffery Band is on hand to accompany the proceedings.
Spirit Of The Blitz
City Varieties Music Hall, Swan Street, Leeds, LS1 6LW
Sunday 1 May 2022, 2pm
Box Office: 0113 243 0808 / Online booking: www.leedsheritagetheatres.com